The Canal du Midi by bike, in Haute Garonne from Toulouse

Toulouse
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The Canal du Midi by  ...

When the weather is good, this is the moment that lovers of two wheels choose, to make beautiful bike rides on the greenways of France . Our cycling trip on the Canal du Midi begins in Toulouse , which can be traveled all the way to Sète, for a total of 240 km. In Haute-Garonne, it is possible to walk from Toulouse to Villefranche-de-Lauragais, on the border with the department of Aude. Before setting off along the canal, we will cycle through the streets of the pink city to discover the history of this Canal du Midi and of course, the essential places of Toulouse !

Canal du Midi, Jenny Diab


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The history of the Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi was born under the impetus of Pierre-Paul Riquet , a tax collector, anxious to find solutions to facilitate the movement of goods. He then launched the largest construction site of the 17th century and at the same time revolutionized river navigation in the south of France! With the agreement of Louis XIV, it carries water from the Montagne Noire (in the Tarn) to the threshold of Naurouze (in the Aude): the highest point of the Canal which will subsequently become the line partition between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The site will last 15 years. Today, the Canal du Midi is one of the oldest canals in Europe still in operation and since 1996 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Before being renamed “ Canal du Midi ” in 1789 by the revolutionaries, it bore the name of “Canal Royal de Languedoc” . In the 14th century, the completion of the Canal Latéral à la Garonne (which doubles the Garonne from Bordeaux to Toulouse), made river navigation possible from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The two structures together form what is called the Canal des Deux Mers.

Canal du Midi, Jenny Diab

Tips for cycling on the Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is originally a towpath , which was used to tow the boats that went up the canal, using a rope pulled by men or animals. It is therefore perfect for walkers , but be aware that the portion in the Aude region does not have an optimal surface for cyclists. The path is very stony, with roots sticking out: we are seriously shaken! We recommend that you go with a mountain bike mountain bike or with an electric mountain bike .

Canal du Midi, Jenny DiabCanal du Midi, Jenny Diab
Choose your frame carefully

When you cycle, especially during the beautiful season, the essential element is the water supply, which is sometimes difficult, because the fountains are sorely lacking on the Canal du Midi ... You will find some after Toulouse, but they are discreet ... Little tip, ask the lock keepers , they kindly accept that you fill your gourd!

The ideal period for cycling the Canal du Midi ? It's spring ! When the sun is not yet very hot, the flora and fauna slowly wake up to offer you very pleasant colors ...

Canal du Midi, Jenny Diab
The beauty of the Canal du Midi, in all seasons (but in spring, it's the best)

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The Canal du Midi in Toulouse

Before leaving on the Canal du Midi, a stroll is essential in the city of Toulouse with several stops to enjoy the essential places such as the Saint-Sernin Basilica , the Place du Capitole , the Pont Neuf , the Augustins Museum as well as the hidden interior courtyards where to rest, away from the hustle and bustle.

Canal du Midi, Jenny Diab
The unmissable Pont Neuf in Toulouse
Canal du Midi, Jenny DiabCanal du Midi, Jenny Diab
St. Stephen's Cathedral
Canal du Midi, Jenny DiabCanal du Midi, Jenny Diab
Enjoy the pink city!

Take a tour of Toulouse by bike ! Toulouse Bike Tour offers great, interesting and complete experiences that will make you love the pink city . Also trust VélOtrement, a bicycle tourism agency that offers rides in different styles for 3 hours.

The city of Toulouse is perfectly adapted to bicycle traffic , sometimes portions are shared and you can always take small alleys, where you will meet very few people. If you want to see the must- see places in Toulouse , you will have to move away from the Canal du Midi a bit , but that's not a problem because you can always pick it up at any time during your getaway.

The Canal du midi from Toulouse to Villefranche-de-Lauragais

With a total of 38 kilometers , the cycle path that goes from Toulouse to Villefranche-de-Lauragais is perfect for a weekend cycling in Haute Garonne ! If you don't have your own bike and want to hire it, you can take the metro from Toulouse to Ramonville and go to the Le Petit Cyclo rental agency . They can bring you the bike to Toulouse to go directly to the Canal du Midi, or you start at the Ramonville agency.

Canal du Midi, Jenny Diab
On the way to the canal du midi!


As you leave Toulouse, you will start to see locks . You come out of an urban environment, there is no more traffic noise, and all around you, the environment is very flowery. Many curious people come to discover or rediscover the maneuvers, to help flat-bottomed boats, such as barges , cross the height difference ! Take the opportunity to take a break and admire this ingenious system.

There are a total of 63 locks along the 240 km of the Canal du Midi, they are of all kinds. Some are only used as passage for boats, others are also the host of barges transformed into restaurants to eat at the edge of the Canal, there are also local products (honey, sausages, fruits ...). There are even some that are converted into small stalls to sell food and drink.

Locks
One of the locks, a complex and ingenious system for lowering boats along the canal.
Canal du Midi Jenny Diab

A barge grocery store

The boats that you will see pass are no longer those that carry goods, as in the days of the boatmen. These are boats mainly offered for rental for pleasure boating. It is also a good way to discover the Canal du Midi, although it is still much slower !

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The pleasure of cycling on the Canal du Midi

It is really a nice portion , which can be done with the family without problem. By leaving relatively early, you will be able to spot a very active fauna: ducks , gray herons, moorhens and geese . Sometimes wild boars timidly come to drink, in the company of a few nutria . It's beautiful when the sun is shining. I loved riding alone, sometimes without seeing anyone, it's a privileged moment to have the Canal du Midi to yourself! When I happened to meet cyclists, hikers, we always exchanged a pleasant word, a hello, good luck ...

Canal du midi Jenny Diab

The lively surroundings of the Canal du Midi

Canal du midi Jenny DiabCanal du midi Jenny Diab


It is practically impossible to take the wrong side of the river when cycling ... If you have any doubts, all you have to do is ask for advice from a person walking on the canal or from those in charge of the locks. Also watch your GPS or Google map, because the channel is clearly indicated. A few days on the Canal du Midi by bike, with family or friends, it is a truly unique experience that we recommend! And why not continue in the Aude , then the Hérault to make a magnificent trip of several days? We quickly get attached to the Canal du Midi, take the time to admire it!

Good walk !

 

Did you like our report? Find more on the BLOG. Follow us on the Facebook page of the Toulouse Pyrénées Guide , we are also on Instagram @guidetoulousepyrenees

 

Article and photos prepared by Jenny DIAB, follow it on her website


Canal du Midi Jenny Diab


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