Cycling the Canal du Midi
Across Southern France from Toulouse to Sete
By Declan Lyons
Guide to cycling the Canal du Midi in southern France, 240km from Toulouse in the Haute Garonne to Sete 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 Beziers.
SeasonsSuitable 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.
CentresToulouse, Carcassone, Beziers, Sète
DifficultySuitable 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 SeeHistoric 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.
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Declan Lyons has a lifelong passion for cycling and touring. 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, including regular trips from the Channel to the Mediterranean. Declan is an advocate of cycle touring – taking time on his cycles and relishing the nature, history and daily life all around. He has toured the region between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean extensively.View author profile
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