Cycling the Canal du Midi
Maarten | On 21, Sep 2012
|Flat, off-road, shaded, with picture postcard views at every turn – a dream bike ride|
The Canal du Midi trail is the perfect bike trip for casual cyclists. The trail is nominally 240km and passes through the Languedoc region, from Toulouse to the Mediterranean in Sète. We chose a six-day package planned by Cyclomundo and La Rébenne, which included bike rentals, accommodations along the route, and transfer of our luggage each day. The trip is self-guided and we proceeded on our own accumulating a total of about 280km.
|A lockmaster’s collection of recycled art including this guitarist.|
We encountered people on horseback and people walking their dogs, but the only wildlife we saw were ducks and swans.
|There are a few spillways to cross, the only challenges on an otherwise perfect path.|
The trail surface and condition varies, but with the exception of two sections where it’s necessary to walk carefully across a spillway, it presents no serious challenges. The trail is mostly packed gravel, with a few paved sections leaving Toulouse and Beziers. Tree roots make some sections bumpier than others. For our trip in August, the weather was warm (usually over 30 degrees Celsius) and dry and so was the trail, but it was clear that there would be some muddy sections in wet weather. The tunnel at Malpas and the gates at Libron are a little narrow for bikes with panniers, but we managed.
|We would not have been surprised if we’d encountered
a little girl with a red cape (or a wolf) skipping along the path
|The lock at Peyruque, where a charming lockmaster served us a delicious café crème.
(This is the Sony RX100’s HDR painting mode)
Along the way there are a selection of cafés and restaurants to let you rest and refuel. Enjoying a perfect café crème at the lockmaster’s café at the Peyruque lock was one of the highlights of the trip.
|The barge Salambbo, hosting a small tea room under a canopy.
Then again, so was lunch at a salon de thé on an eclectic barge (there was only one choice for lunch) …
|The last section of the trail before the Mediterranean is sandy.|
For the budget conscious, there are many small towns on and close to the trail to stock up on picnic provisions. As you travel along, you make informal acquaintance with fellow travellers headed the same direction. Some were biking for the day, others were tenting their way along the route.