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If you like beautiful beaches, a splash of city culture, paella at its freshest and deliciously gentle scenic cycling, then this tour from vibrant Valencia into the vast nature reserve of Albufera has to be for you. The university city is a great colourful mix of medieval and ultra-modern architecture just made for exploring by bike, but venture south down dedicated coastal cycle paths to the outstretched waters of the Laguna de L’Albufera and the rice fields of Spain and you could be in pedalling paradise. The beautiful beach-side Parador El Saler makes for a rewarding retreat complete with spa and golf course as well as a great base for circular tours inland to ‘rice capital’, Sueca, or down to Cullera, where flatlands and mountains meet by the Mediterranean.

Tour details

Tour Name
Template only
Tour Reference
TEMPLATE
Tour Duration
5 days and 4 nights
Start Day
Any Day
Tour Grade
4
Board Basis
Bed & Breakfast
Price
From £0 to £0 per person
Accommodation
is in Matera (2 nights), Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce (2 nights), Otranto and Gallipoli. Selected properties include two charming guesthouses, one 3 star hotel and one 2 star hotel. We are pleased to discuss details on request.
Tour at a Glance

Starting south of Palma in Cala Blava,head inland before you reach the unspoilt, steep rocky coastline which then leads down towards the salt fields by stylish Colonia Sant Jordi, before you follow the coast of 100 coves towards the beautiful bay at Cala Santanyi and the famous dragon caves near Porto Cristo. Pass by pearl oyster farms at Manacor and through olive groves and orchards en route inland to historic Petra and C’an Picafort on the coast. Nearby S’Albufera boasts an amazing wetland nature reserve and the climb to Alcúdia (“ The Town of the Hill”) is worth it for the great fusion of cultural influences in this historic fortified town. Heading westwards inland, there’s a transfer across the mountains of Serra de Tramuntana to the famed monastery at Lluc and on to even higher ground before you jump back on your bike for the long descent to breath-taking Fornalutx and on through the citrus groves to Port de S?ller. Cycling mostly on quiet roads with some hills and some busier stretches, this tour takes the strain out of any major mountain climbs with minibus transfers and brings you in to Palma by train and tram on the final stage of the route.

Availability
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Itinerary

Day One - Arrive and explore
Arriving in bustling Carcassonne, it’s hard to take in the sheer scale of this massively impressive castle city. Relax and explore the biggest medieval fortress surviving in Europe today which was significantly restored in the 19th century. Take a wander along the ‘lices’, the grassy stretches between the double walls, for a real introduction to the formidable defensive system with its 52 towers, as well as fantastic views across the beautiful Aude countryside. Overnight in Carcassonne.

 

Day Two – Castles & Cassoulet
Time to leave Carcassonne’s medieval castle behind you a while and take a train ride west to Castelnaudry, renowned throughout France as the capital of Cassoulet. A hearty local lunch seems a rite of passage before pushing your pedals back along quiet lanes bordered by vineyards and cypresses to the charming medieval village of Saint-Papoul. Take a look around the tiny streets and at the Benedictine Abbey, then head across to hug the Canal du Midi warmly as you shade from the Mediterranean sun. The stretch to Carcassonne passes many locks and includes some charming ‘ports’ including Bram with its magnificent ‘circulade’. Overnight in Carcassonne.

 

Miles: 26 Kms: 42

Day Three – Tales of the towpath
Get truly acquainted with the great Canal du Midi today as you hug it almost all the way to the ancient commercial harbour of Homps. It’s a day of shady plane trees and cypresses, vineyards and villages. Look out for Trèbes, the old Roman crossing of the Aude River for the military route from Carcassonne to Narbonne and wonder at the magnificent, more modern engineering of the many locks and canal ‘ architecture’ created between 1666- 1680 such as the fine Orbiel aqueduct. Your route parts company with the canal for a final stretch taking you through some small villages to the south on the way to your overnight in Homps, one of the most important former harbours on the ‘Canal des Deux Mers’ aka the Canal du Midi.

Miles: 29 Kms: 46

Day Four – Truly gorgeous (Cathar villages - circular ride )
It’s a bit of a climb (320m) – but honestly worth the effort. Take an optional circular ride today up to the ancient village of Minerve, built on a rocky spur above the Cesse and Brian gorges and renowned as one of France’s loveliest villages. It’s an exceptional geological site with the natural bridges of the Cesse Valley making for some awesome scenery. If you’d prefer to pedal out on flatter ground, there’s a refreshing option to the local lake or the nearby villages of Olonzac and Azillanet. Overnight in Homps.

 

Miles: 23 Kms: 37

Day Five - Harping back to its hey-day
Pedal out alongside the Canal du Midi, following the boats and barges today to reach Le Somail. This village is home to a real slice of canal history, complete with storehouses, a chapel, humpback bridge and travellers’ rest all dating from the time of the great canal’s construction. A pedal push or two later, you steer off down another towpath, this time alongside the Canal de la Robine which leads to the historic city of Narbonne with its St Just cathedral, Via Domitia and smart 17th century houses. Overnight Narbonne.

Miles: 28 Kms: 45

Day Six - Staircase locks & a time-honoured tunnel
Heading for historic Béziers, it’s time to retrace your path along the Canal de la Robine before crossing the rural landscape from Sallèles-d’Aude to meet the Canal du Midi at Capestang where there’s a chance to visit the village’s fine college. Poilhes next, another village full of character, before continuing along to go over the canal’s famous Malpas Tunnel carved into solid rock. There's a short hilly detour if you fancy it, carrying on up to the Ensérune Oppidum ,one of the region’s most renowned Gallic villages. The final shady stretch to the old town of Béziers includes the impressive series of nine locks known as the Fonserannes staircase lock. Overnight in Béziers.

Miles: 33 Kms: 53

Day Seven - A moment by the Med (Circular tour)
There’s time to admire the fortified façade and Romanesque crypt of St Nazaire cathedral which dominates old town Béziers before setting off towards the coast. Your route leads from the Canal du Midi out via villages and harbours into the open marshlands of the ‘des Orpeillières’ nature reserve, reminiscent of the Camargue with its horses, bulls and even flamingos. Pedal along the Mediterranean southwards past its beaches, and during the summer season ( July and August) you can ferry it across the inlet to reach the popular beach resort of Valras-Plage. The cycle path leads via Serignan back to the Canal du Midi for your final overnight in Béziers.

Miles: 26 Kms: 42

Day Eight - Lecce
Depart after breakfast , or take time to enjoy the Mediterranean flavours of historic Béziers. There are regional trains from Béziers back to Carcassonne if you wish.

 

Day Nine - Depart after breakfast
Depart after breakfast , or take time to enjoy the Mediterranean flavours of historic Béziers. There are regional trains from Béziers back to Carcassonne if you wish.

 

 

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