The canal was opened officially as the Canal Royal de Languedoc on May 24, 1681. It was built under the supervision of Pierre Paul Riquet, a rich tax-farmer who ruined himself in the personal undertaking and died broke in 1680, some months before the canal was opened to navigation. 12,000 workers toiled for fifteen years to create the canal. At Béziers it bridges the river Orb as the pont-canal. The tunnel 173 meters long under a hill at Enserune was the first canal passage ever built through a tunnel.