Toulouse is your point of departure for this journey along the ‘Canal du Midi’, which was classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The journey is one of exceptional beauty; the canal is bordered almost all of the way by plane trees, sometimes pine trees, poplars or cypresses. The canal takes you through the heart of the countryside in both the Midi Pyrenees and the Languedoc-Roussillon region of South-West France. This is an area of extensive farm land and in particular, vineyards. The wine in this region can be superb. There are plenty of opportunities to taste the wine, as well as visit ancient towns and monuments along the way. This particular tour takes in the ancient cities of Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, and Narbonne, all with the comfort of 2* hotel accommodation.
Click here for cycling the Canal du Midi with higher standard hotels.
Your day by day program
Arrive at Toulouse and settle into your hotel.
Toulouse is a wonderfully vibrant place and it is well worth spending some time looking around. For those who are interested, we can add an additional night here and a cycle loop to take you around the ‘pink city’ (the colour of the bricks used in many of the houses and monuments gave Toulouse its nickname).
Night in a two star hotel only a short walk away from the heart of the old city.
If you have paid in advance for rental bikes, then they will be delivered at your hotel ready for you to begin your journey today alongside the canal, passing through the city and out into the neighbouring countryside on a smooth tarmac track. Familiarise yourself with the many locks (‘Ecluse’) which abound along the route. Allow yourself time to listen to the many birds that spend their time around the canal, chat to the local fishermen and watch the tourist boats chugging ever so slowly through this idyllic scenery. Spend the night in a delightful two star hotel on the banks of the canal, at Castelnaudary. Dine out on “Cassoulet” which has made this particular town famous throughout France.
This stage is roughly 40 miles.
This is a day which urges you to dawdle! One cannot help but feel at the very heart of the French countryside. The views along the tree-lined canal out towards the agricultural fields and to the Pyrenees beyond make it a special day. You cannot miss the fact that you are entering wine country, with plenty of vineyards within metres from the banks of the canal. The destination for this evening is a real treat. Carcassonne boasts two World Heritage Sites and is really unique. Spend time in the medieval city before heading back to your two star hotel, at walking distance from "La Cité".
This stage is under 30 miles.
With an extra day in Carcassonne, you have the opportunity to take it easy and spend more time exploring this fabulous city. For those feeling fit and adventurous, we have prepared a fantastic day’s cycle ride away from the canal, heading into the heart of Cathar country. The ride takes you into the Black Mountains where you can visit the Chateaux de Lastours as well as an underground cave at Limousis which stretches over 1.2km. There are many opportunities to taste the local wines. Return to Carcassonne.
Up to 30 miles round trip with some reasonably steep climbs.
This is a challenging day, as the distance covered is the longest on the trip and the cycle track by the side of the canal is rough and slow going. However, with plenty of time, this is a rewarding day with many small towns, villages and ports to enjoy along the route. Once more, there are numerous places at which you can stop to taste the local wines, sample the local food or purchase local products. Near the end of the ride, you will leave the Canal du Midi to join the Canal de la Robine. This canal takes you into the ancient city of Narbonne, where you will spend the night in a two star hotel outside the city center but just next to a wine tasting center!.
This stage is roughly 48 to 50 miles depending of the options.
After the previously long day, this makes for an easy ride and a rewarding one as you reach the Mediterranean with the possibility of a dip in the sea! The purpose built cycle route takes you easily from the centre of Narbonne, and then out through a cluster of lakes before arriving at Port-la-Nouvelle. The Port has a fabulously long golden-sand beach and hosts many restaurants at which you can celebrate the end point of your ride from Toulouse.
For those inclined to finish there, it is possible to take the local train back to Narbonne. Night in Narbonne.
Possible return journey by train. About 2 hours from Narbonne to Toulouse.
Extra night possible in Toulouse.
Saturdays, Sundays and Fridays from the beginning of March to the end of October.
- At your hotel in Toulouse.
- End of your holiday in Narbonne.
- 2 stars hotels. All with ensuite facilities.
- From 2 persons only.
- Flat itinerary except for the optional loop from Carcassonne. Long stage from Carcassonne to Narbonne with 48 to 50 miles. From 14 miles to 50 miles a day. Note that the path alongside the canal is mainly a dirt track rather than tarmac.
- Your bag (one per person) is transferred by taxi between the hotels.
- Bike rental (hybrid bike) including repatriation : 155€
- E-bike rental including repatriation : 195€
- July and August departure : 45€
- Single room supplement : 200€
- GPS tracks on USB stick : 25€
- Hotels, breakfasts, luggage transfers, maps and route notes.
- Transfers to the start of the route and from the finishing point, insurance, lunches, evening meals, train travel (about 22€ for the Narbonne to Toulouse journey).