Cycling the Canal du Midi
Across Southern France from Toulouse to Sète
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Guide to cycling the Canal du Midi in southern France, 240km from Toulouse in the Haute Garonne to Sète on the Mediterranean Coast. The flat, picturesque route is divided into five stages, each around 50km long. Includes detours to sights close to the canal as well as longer excursions, including Narbonne, Minerve, Carcassone and Béziers.
- Suitable all year round. Busier and hot in summer, but with lots going on; ideal temperatures but higher average rainfall in spring and autumn; quietest in winter, but with Christmas markets and fairs.
- Toulouse, Carcassone, Beziers, Sète
- Suitable for all abilities - flat and car-free along the canal with optional slightly hillier excursions by road if desired. Described in five stages to fit within a week's holiday.
- Must See
- Historic towns and cities: Ancient Greek Agde, Roman Narbonne, Toulouse, the 'Rose City', Carcassonne's 12th-century fortified Cité. Real French culture of La France Profonde, including myriad local festivals. Varied countryside with a wide range of animals and plants.
This guidebook describes a 240km cycle ride along the length of the Canal du Midi in southern France. Starting at Toulouse in the Haute Garonne and finishing at Sète on the Mediterranean Coast, the route is divided into five stages of about 50km. It is a flat, car-free and picturesque route mainly on the towpath, and is suitable for all abilities.
The guide is written for those who want to explore the canal and visit attractions along the way. There are lots of optional detours to sites of interest near the canal, as well as six longer excursions, including fortified Carcassone, Roman Narbonne, Vendres lagoon and the Portiragnes marshes. Detailed route descriptions are crammed with additional information about points of interest passed, and 1:200,000 scale maps clearly show the route for each stage of the way.
Begun in 1666 the Canal du Midi is one of the world's most picturesque waterways and a World Heritage Site. This is 'La France Profonde', a region rich in history and culture, as seen in the grand homes and chateaux that grace the water's edge, and the fascinating Cathar strongholds of Carcassone, Lastours and Minerve.
Regions of the canal
Cycling the Canal du Midi
When to go
Getting there and getting around
Food and drink
What to take
Cycling the towpath
Health and safety
Money and communications
Using this guide
The Canal du Midi
Stage 1 Toulouse to Port Lauragais
Stage 2 Port Lauragais to Carcassone
Excursion 1 From Criminelle lock to St-Ferréol reservoir
Stage 3 Carcassone to Homps
Excursion 2 From Trèbes to Lastours
Excursion 3 From Homps to Minerve
Stage 4 Homps to Béziers
Excursion 4 To Narbonne and Port la Nouvelle
Stage 5 Béziers to Sète
Excursion 5 To Vendres salt lagoon
Excursion 6 Across Portiragnes marshes to Sérignan
Appendix A Stage planning tables
Appendix B Accommodation
Appendix C Useful information
Appendix D English–French glossary
Appendix E Further reading
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A gold mine for any traveller
Declan Lyons brings a lifelong passion for cycling and touring to this guide. He was bitten by the bug when, as a teenager in the 1960s, he explored the wilds of Connemara on a rusty three-speed Rudge bicycle. Since then he has toured extensively in Ireland and further afield. He’s cycled throughout France, including regular trips from the Channel to the Mediterranean.
You can see the plane trees bordering the Canal du Midi from Declan’s home in Portiragnes. He has spent the past decade exploring its history, culture and wildlife by bike – accompanied by his wife, son and fellow enthusiasts.View Articles and Books by Declan Lyons
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