Canal de Garonne and Canal du Midi used to be the shipping connection between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. From the elegant, historic wine city of Bordeaux you follow the canal to the “pink” town of Toulouse. Cycling in a very relaxed way along almost car free routes through the magnificent typical South France countryside. From Toulouse you follow the footsteps of the famous French "Canal architect" Paul Riquet. A relaxed, well marked track takes you through the agricultural area of Lauragais and the vineyards of Minervois. The ingeniously constructed winding "Canal du Midi", included in Unesco’s heritage, is your umbrageous guide.
Today you travel to Bordeaux by train, plane or car and settle in at your comfortable centrally-located hotel. Easy connections using public transport (tram or shuttle) are available. Be sure to get there early to leave time to explore Bordeaux, a very pleasant town on the banks of the River Garonne.
Your first route takes you quickly out of town, via a cycling path on the right bank of the Garonne. In Latresne you turn north, to follow a converted railway. At the Romanesque abbey in La Sauve you turn southward on quiet tarmac lanes to reach the town of Cadillac and your hotel (with swimming pool), situated below the impressive 18th-century "Chateau de Cadillac".
Challenge: 49km, 150m ascent
You start off again on winding inland lanes, to avoid the busy road between Cadillac and Saint Macaire. You will have to do some ascents, but a rewarding landscape awaits: impressive estates, vineyards and tiny typically-French villages. After a visit to the Bastide de St Macair, you cross the Garonne to the beginning of "la véloroute des Deux Mers" - your cycling route "between two seas". Accommodation tonight at a charming chambre d'hôtes in Meilhan-sur-Garonne, or a bit further inland in Marcellus.
Challenge: 39 or 47km, 200/350m ascent
Today you follow the Canal deGaronne, cycling on the flat from Meilhan-sur-Garonne all the way to Sérignac. Enjoy the shade of ancient plane trees and take time to make small detours along the way. Savour a cup of coffee on the beautiful village square in Damazan, with its fortress and historic arcades. Another stop could be Tonneins, worth the 10km detour for its lovely square on the banks of the Garonne and a wide choice of restaurants, cafés and shops.
Challenge: 66 or 72km, 50m ascent
On your last day of cycling, you begin with a gentle section along the canal among plane trees and orchards. After 10km the channel intersects with an aqueduct, creating a unique way to reach Agen with its pleasant city centre and renowned Museum of Arts. Your route then continues along the canal, tucked in between the railway and a busy road until you reach Valence d'Agen, another beautiful town with curious round washhouses. Your last section is peaceful once again, as you fully enjoy the scenery on your way to the historic town of Mossaic, a UNESCO world heritage site and important stop on the "Chemin de Saint Jacques" coming in from Geneva, with the 11th-century Abbey of St Pierre and its stunning cloister.
Challenge: 58km, 30m ascent
Via the beautiful Pont-Canal du Cacor you cross the river Tarn and reach Castelsarrasin with its small port and 13th century Abbey of Belleperche. In the shade of old planes you now follow an uninterrupted, quiet track to the centre of Toulouse. The last km short of this ‘pink’ town are somewhat noisier. There’s a lot to see on the way: the water slope in Montech, the special Ponts-Jumeaux and the junction of 3 canals. After Grisoles with its brick houses you reach the historic Castelnau-d’Estrétefonds. From here you can, if you wish, cover the last 25 km of this ‘Canal de la Garonne’ route by train.
Challenge: 67km, 75m ascent
Leave Toulouse via the Paul Riquet bridge and cycle along the Canal du Midi, with its typical river barges. You cycle into the pastel coloured country of Lauragais. Take a break in Avignonet, the centre of the battles during the Albigenic crusades with its many medieval remains, statues of crusaders and enormous churches. At the foot of the Montagne Noire you find the highest point of the canal (190 m). This is the Narouze watershed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. You go down to Castelnaudary; maybe to enjoy an authentic 'cassoulet’ later on?
Challenge: 64km, 100m ascent
Surrounded by The Montagne Noire in the east and the Pyrenees in the south west you cycle via an original, thousand- year- old tow path, to the river port of Bram. Brick gives way to stones and cornfields to vineyards. You pass age old villages and waterworks that are evidence of Pierre-Paul Riquet’s ingenuity, such as the Bétel and Lalande lock. Also stop at the Cugarel mill, the Villepinte dam and the Rebente aqueduct. Finally you reach Carcassonne, consisting of the medieval upper town ( Unesco heritage) and the Bastide Saint-Jean situated somewhat lower.
Challenge: 43km, 50m ascent
After breakfast, your trip ends in Carcassonne. We advise you to extend your stay in order to take the time to visit this impressive medieval city, classified as a Unesco Heritage site.
All accommodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services.
We choose comfortable 2*/3* hotels or B&Bs where all rooms have private en-suite bathroom and every morning breakfast are included.
For this trip you can choose between Comfort and Comfort +. The accommodations for a Comfort+ trip, will be in 3*/4 * hotels wherever possible (supplement applied).
The bike rental includes the drop-off fee for the bike’s return
8 Nights included
2/3 Star Hotels or 3/4 Star Hotels (supplement applied)
Tourist tax included
Breakfast included, Halfboard optional on request
Maps and tourist information on all the places of interest
24/7 Bilingual Emergency hotline
Luggage transport to your next accommodations. Luggage accepted per person: 1 suitcase or travel bag (20 kg maximum)
Parking informations on request
GPS tracks are available on request
From Paris, you can take the TGV (high speed train) to Bordeaux. 2h15). For time tables and further information look at the website of the SNCF.
From Paris to Bordeaux (approx. 6h - 590 km/367 mi). Acces to driving routes see the website ViaMichelin.