Cycle from coast to coast along the beautiful greenway of the Canal de Garonne and Canal du Midi.
Enjoy tranquil and shaded canal-side paths, far from traffic and noise.
Wander the beautiful Romanesque cloisters of the Abbey of St. Peter in Moissac.
Discover the magnificent medieval citadel of Carcassonne.
Finish up with some fresh seafood by the azure blue Mediterranean Sea in Sète
Canal des Deux-Mers self-guided cycling holiday
On this relaxed cycling holiday, you will cross south western France on tranquil canal-side paths. The ‘Canal des Deux Mers’ was built as a shipping connection to link the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It is, in fact, two canals. From the elegant, historic wine city of Bordeaux you follow the Canal de Garonne to the ‘pink city’ of Toulouse. In Toulouse you join the ingeniously constructed Canal du Midi. You will follow the winding course of this UNESCO-listed canal all the way to the charming Mediterranean port town of Sète.
It is hard to imagine a more pleasant and relaxing way to cross the country than following the flat tow path along the still waters in the shade of plane trees. Immerse yourself in the slow pace of life as you pass antique barges, oval shaped canal locks, inviting picnic tables and picturesque canal-side villages. This beautiful greenway takes you through the vineyards of the Minervois and the wheat fields of the Lauragais. There are also many outstanding cultural highlights along the route, such as the Medieval walled citadel of Carcassonne, the Romanesque cloisters of Moissac and the towering Gothic Cathedral of Béziers, just to name a few!
The difficulty level of this trip is rated as easy to moderate overall. The cycling is relatively flat all the way, apart from a few sections where the route takes you away from the canals.
|12 DAYS / 11 NIGHTS||From €1,290 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for groups of 3 or more. Please enquire for prices.
|BIKE RENTAL||If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a bicycle from us. Our touring bikes are have a minimum of 21-speed gears. It is also possible to rent an electric bike.
You will receive your rental bike at the start of your holiday and return it before you go home. We deliver the bicycle at your first accommodation (evening of day 1 or morning of day 2) and pick it up from your last accommodation after your last cycling day. You just need to give us your body length, so that you receive the correct bike size, and we take care of everything else.
Bicycles are equipped as follows:
• Helmet (on request)
|ACCOMMODATION||All accommodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services.
We choose comfortable 2*/3* and 4* hotels or B&Bs where all rooms have a private en-suite bathroom and breakfast is included each morning.
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If any are unavailable, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April 1st and November 3rd.|
Arrive in Bordeaux by train, plane or car and settle in at your comfortable centrally-located hotel. Easy public transport connections (tram or shuttle) are available. Be sure to get there early to leave time to explore Bordeaux, a very pleasant port city on the banks of the River Garonne. The city of Bordeaux is the world’s largest urban World Heritage Site (boasting over 360 historic monuments) and is renowned for its extraordinary gastronomic scene and vibrant city life.
Leaving Bordeaux, you follow a cycle path along the right bank of the Garonne. In Latresne you turn north, to follow the Roger Lapébie cycle path. This is a beautifully converted railway track, named after the 1937 Tour de France winner and passing several old railway stations.
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”. Cadillac is located in the centre of a wine region of international fame.
You start off again on winding country lanes, to avoid the busy road between Cadillac and Saint Macair. There are 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 the perched village of Meilahn-sur-Garonne, or a bit further inland in Noaillac.
Overnight: Meilhan-sur-Garonne (dinner included)
Today you follow the Canal de la Garonne, cycling on the flat from Meilhan-sur-Garonne all the way to the charming village of Sèrignac. Enjoy the shade of ancient plane trees and take time to make small detours along the way. The church in Mas d’Agenais has an authentic painting by Rembrandt on display. Savour a cup of coffee on the beautiful village square in Damazan, with its fortress and historic arcades. Another stop could be Tonneis, worth the 10 km detour for its lovely square on the banks of the Garonne.
Overnight: Sérignac-sur-Garonne (dinner included)
Today’s route begins with a gentle section along the canal among plane trees and orchards. After 10 km the channel intersects with an aqueduct, creating a unique way to reach Agen with its pleasant city centre and renowned Museum of Arts. You then continue along the canal to Valence d’Agen, another beautiful town with curious round washhouses. The last section is peaceful and scenic, as you make your way to the historic town of Moissac, a UNESCO world heritage site and important stop on the “Chemin de Saint Jacques” since the Middle Ages. The Romanesque cloister of the 11th Century Abbey of St Pierre is regarded as one of the most beautiful of its kind in the world.
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. From there, you follow an uninterrupted greenway in the shade of old plane trees right into the centre of Toulouse. There’s a lot to see on the way; the water slope boat lift in Montech and the Ponts Jumeaux (Twin Bridges) where the Canal de Garonne joins the Canal du Midi and the River Garonne. After Grisolles 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.
Known as ‘La Ville Rose’ (the pink city), due to its red brick buildings and ochre rooftops, Toulouse is a lively university town. Its charming Vieux Quartier (Old Quarter) contains many fine restaurants and architectural treasures, including the Place du Capitol, St. Sernin’s Cathedral and the Couvent des Jacobins; a beautiful 13th century Dominican Monastery.
Leave Toulouse via the Paul Riquet bridge and follow the cycle path along the tree-lined Canal du Midi. You will pass numerous characteristic barges before entering the rolling countryside of the Lauragais. Take a break in Avignonet, scene of numerous battles during the Albegenic crusades. Here you will find lots of medieval remains and statues of crusaders, as well as the magnificent gothic church of Notre-Dame des Miracles.
At the foot of the Montagne Noir, you reach the highest point of the canal. This is the Narouze watershed, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. From here, you descend to to Castelnaudary, where you will spend the night. Why not take the opportunity to try a real authentic cassoulet!
Surrounded by the Montagne Noir in the east and the Pyrenees in the south-west, you cycle along an original, thousand- year-old tow path to the river harbour of Bram. The surrounding landscape changes from cornfields to vineyards. You pass centuries-old villages and waterworks like Béteil and the Lalande lock. You will pass the Cugarel mill, the Villepinte dam and the Rebenty aqueduct, before the fairytale medieval castle of Carcassone finally comes into view, dramatically perched on a rocky hilltop. Staying here for the night allows you to explore the medieval citadel in peace, after the tourist day-trippers have left.
Leaving fabulous Carcassonne behind, you return to the peaceful tranquillity of the canal, surrounded by imposing plane trees. Admire the bridge at Orbiel and the 12th century church in the port of Trèbes. It is worth making a stop in the Gallic village near Marseillette and taking a walk to Capendu to visit its Roman chapel. Continue through undulating vineyards to the charming village of Homps.
After the lock of Argens, you follow the winding path along the hillside to Le Somail. Take a break here in the old library. After that you cycle along the Canal de la Robine to Capestang with its magnificent collegiate church, already visible from afar. From its bell tower you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.
Getting back on your bike, you continue past the Gallo-Roman remains of the village of Poilhes la Romaine and the Oppidum d’Ensérune. You can also admire the Malpas tunnel and the 9 locks of Foncérannes. They are evidence of the brilliance of the architect Paul Riquet, the man responsible for the construction of the Canal du Midi. Monsieur Riquet’s native town – the historic Béziers – is your destination today.
Leaving Béziers, the sea is not yet visible – but you can smell it! The landscape now becomes flatter, forming a mosaic of dunes, swamps and lagoons. This coastal region is home to many egrets, who strut proudly among the horses and cattle. As you reach the old town of Agde, with its 12th century black cathedral, you cross the Hérault river in the direction of the Thau lagoon.
The Canal du Midi reaches its endpoint at the lighthouse in Onglous. The last part of your cycling route then follows the beach from Marseillan to the fishing port of Sète. This authentic town, full of pastel-coloured houses with wrought iron balconies, is crossed by several connecting canals and the Thau Basin. In the harbour you find an abundance of fish restaurants, where everything is as fresh as can be!
Your cycling holiday comes to an end after breakfast this morning in the pleasant town of Sète. The largest fishing port in France, Sète is also known for its beautiful beaches. Perhaps you will have time for a refreshing morning swim before beginning your homeward journey!