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bielle Toulouse - A travel report by terry
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Toulouse,  France - flag France -  Midi-Pyrenees
4142 readers

bielle's travel reports

canals of southern france

  9 votes
If you enjoy cycling you might want to travel accross France from the Atlantic to the Med along the Canal lateral and the Canal du Midi though the south of France. You need a sturdy all terrain bike and paniers to carry your kit

Setting off from Langon just south of Bordeaux it is a short 10 km ride through country roads to the start of the Lateral where it joins the Garronne.From here to Toulouse the tow path is smooth tarmac and well signposted for cyclists as you negotiate locks and bridges. Each side of the canal is lined with mature Plane trees. My journey in the spring meant there was a lot of pollen from the trees so not a good time for allergy suffers. Camp sites are a bit thin on the ground but I always found one either by the side of the canal or close by. I was carrying a tent,sleeping mat and bag plus a few clothes It pays to travel as light as possible because although it is flat there is no relaxing downhill sections to rest your legs You have to keep peddling or come to a stop. travelling south west along the canal there is a persistent headwind as well just to make life difficult.

I averaged about 75 km a day which meant about 5 to 6 hours on the bike so make sure you invest in a cumfy saddle or a VTT with suspension. Although the route to Toulouse is not very well used there are enough people on the tow path to limit your speed to about a 15km/fr average.

At Toulouse you cycle through the city, past the confluence of the Lateral and the Midi and join the Midi. Along this part of the Canal the tow path is much more variable changing from tarmac to gravel to earth. There are many more people here but the biggest problem I found was avoiding the tree routes which can easily throw you off the bike if hit at speed. The traditional warning cry as you approach walkers is eh oh, not too loud esoecially if you are close as people seem to be easily startled as they wander along deep in their own thoughts.
You eventually reach Carcassonne, which is well worth a diversion from the Canal to visit the medieval Cite. A bit too well restored perhaps but well worth a visit. Do enjoy the local Casolet, a bean stew full of sausage.d

Favourite spots:
The next town of note is Narbonne, lively and full of medeval buildings.

Then onto the Med and journeys end, approximately 400 km of beautiful country, villages and towns. well worth the effort to see the Land of the Cathars.

What's really great:
If camping you can generally buy food for the day in local shops.I always took a good breakfast of coffee,pain au chocolat, fruit and friut juice to sustain me until lunch when it was fresh bread, cheese and saucisante. it is easy to by good quality tinned food to heat up for an evening meal.Avoid carrying soft fruits during the day as thet tend to disintegrate from all the bumps.

Go and enjoy on of the classic French cycle trips!!

Enjoy the ride through the town centre but don't arrive in the evening

Published on Saturday May 17th, 2008

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Wed, May 28 2008 - 10:31 AM rating by murrayskinner

I enjoyed this report. Travelled to Carcissonne, Agde, and Sete about 10 year ago.... I loved Coillure!!! It was beatiful. Nice report I need to get back to Longedoc Rousillion!!!

Mon, May 26 2008 - 04:59 PM rating by terje

Hi, I like the idea of canal vacation in France. Miss the photos!

Sun, May 18 2008 - 07:11 AM rating by mistybleu

Hi ya, this really seems like something nice to do. It must have been very picturesque. A brief but informative report.

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