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Toulouse to Mediterranean Blues

Tour: FMTS8
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday
Linear Cycling Holiday

Discover the true, warm colours of southwest France all the way from ‘ville rose’ Toulouse and Carcassonne’s awesome ochre ramparts, through the vineyards of delicious Minervois and Roussillon reds to the black basalt cathedral, pale sandy beaches and beautiful sea blues of Sète on the Mediterranean. With the Canal du Midi and all its pleasure boats as your refreshing companions, dappled green towpaths and really straightforward cycling are the order of (almost) every day. Look forward to en-route encounters with Santiago de Compostella pilgrim paths, Cathar castles, tasty local ‘cassoulet’ and all sorts of engineering feats from tunnels and bridges to round and even staircase locks. A really rewarding linear cycle tour from big city Toulouse to Mediterranean favourite Cap d’Agde and Sète, the sea and lagoon-side resort of many colours dubbed the ‘Venice of the Languedoc’. Read More



Start Day

Any Day

Board Basis

Bed & Breakfast

Prices from



8 Days, 7 Nights


Mar - Oct

Tour Grade

Grade 3 (Moderate)

Read Overview
Home > France > Toulouse to Mediterranean Blues


From Toulouse through Cathar villages and Languedoc vineyards all the way to the lighthouses and lagoons around Sète on the Mediterranean coast, this linear tour along the historic Canal du Midi makes for a refreshing, easy-going cycling holiday. Stunning open scenery, warm Mediterranean sunshine and an impressive line-up of historic highlights like Bram, Carcassonne, Béziers and Cap d’Agde are interlaced by the south west’s famous pilgrimage paths, rivers and impressive canal trading routes.

Tour Code:
Hotel To Hotel Cycling Holiday, Linear Cycling Holiday
Canal du Midi
8 Days, 7 Nights
Board Basis:
Bed & Breakfast
Mar - Oct


Day 1 Arrive & explore

Arrive in the city where the Canal du Midi has its start and you’ll find that this waterway is not the only amazing feat of engineering here. Renowned for its awesome architecture beside the mighty River Garonne, Toulouse is hugely impressive all round  – France’s fourth largest city is not just the capital of the Occitanie region, but the European Capital of Aeronautics too. To get your visit off to a flying start, you could visit one of the many aeroplane museums and attractions on the west bank of the river, but there’s plenty of heady heritage to look up to in the city centre around the Place du Capitole. Known as the ‘ville rose’, Toulouse is a colourful place and its bridges, façades and even the massive belfry tower of the pilgrimage Jacobins church and monastery look pretty in pink here. Check out Le Capitole itself (town hall), with its neo-classical frontage, home to lavish painting galleries, state rooms and the famous Toulouse opera house or gaze up at (and inside!) the Basilica Saint-Sernin, reputedly one of the finest churches in France. A short hop from the Pont Neuf, in the Daurade quarter, don’t miss the city’s finest Renaissance mansion – Maison Assézat – a great place to relax with a courtyard coffee and really get into holiday mode!

Overnight in Toulouse.

Day 2 Towpaths & pilgrim paths

With the Canal du Midi and its boats as close company, it’s time to take to the saddle and pedal out into the vast and fertile, hill-backed plain of the Lauragais region. In contrast to the great towering heights and massive Romanesque architecture of the city, it’s a gentle landscape with low-lying churches and more modest bell-towers, like the one at Montesquieu-Lauragais. In the 16th century, the limestone-rich soil here was perfect for growing woad (French -‘pastel’) for textiles and trade flourished. Often referred to as ‘Pays de Cocagne’ after the little ‘cakes’ of woad which were sold here, it was also referred to as the Land of Plenty. The area you cycle through en route to Gardouch touches the past in many ways, a land associated with Santiago de Compostella pilgrims and Cathar Crusaders.

Overnight in Gardouch.

Miles  26  Kms  43

Day 3 Up & over in ‘Cassoulet Country’

Leave the Canal du Midi path a while in search of views from above as you head to the Cathar village of Aignonet-Lauragais with its port (Port Lauragais) located on the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage route. The magnificent Gothic church of Notre-Dame des Miracles dates from the 14th century and the typical half-timbered town houses from the 1200 – 1400s, but here it’s the castle and remains of the ramparts – and the grisly tales of the great 13th century massacre of the inquisitors of Cartharism – which steal the show. As you pass over the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, it’s time to enter ‘Cassoulet Country’ around the port of Castelnaudary. Cassoulet – a hearty meat and bean stew – is almost the French equivalent of the UK’s Lent pancake. It’s a dish to use everything up – historically to give the locals strength before Edward, England’s Plantagenet Black Prince, besieged the town in 1355. Try it ‘sur place’ for a real authentic taste of Haute Garonne cuisine, before pedalling full strength along quiet lanes bordered by vineyards and cypresses to the medieval abbey village of Saint-Papoul. Look at the Benedictine Abbey and explore the tiny streets, then hug the Canal du Midi warmly once again to your destination for the day – the early medieval ‘circulade’ village-cum-port of Bram, where historic streets encircle the fortress church and town walls.

Overnight in Bram.

Miles  31  Kms  50

Day 4 Carcassonne castle encounters

More little port-villages and locks line the Canal from Bram today, then as you cycle through the new town edges of mighty Carcassonne, you’ll arrive before the massive fortified walls of the castle city on the banks of the river Aude. Exploring the biggest medieval fortress surviving in Europe has to be the order of the day. It was significantly restored in the 19th century and is beautifully preserved. Be sure to seek out the ‘lices’, the lawned stretches between the double walls. Walks here not only put across the sheer scale of the formidable defensive system complete with its 52 towers, but also deliver some fantastic views of the beautiful Aude countryside.

Overnight in Carcassonne.

Miles  16  Kms  27

Day 5 Minervois villages, vineyards & Vauban legacies  

Pedal out alongside the Canal du Midi, following the boats and barges, to reach the village of Le Somail, home to a real slice of canal history, complete with storehouses, a chapel, the Saint-Marcel humpback bridge and travellers’ rest (originally for mail barge passengers) all dating from the time of the great canal’s construction. En route the Canal du Midi leads you into the Minervois area of vineyards and shady cypresses. Share the Canal’s company almost all the way to the lively ancient commercial harbour of Homps, looking out for Trèbes – the old Roman crossing of the Aude River for the military route from Carcassonne to Narbonne – and la Redorte, Vauban’s Argent Double built to drain excess water during time of flood and clear the channel. Minerve, on a rocky spur above the Cesse and Brian gorges is renowned as one of France’s loveliest villages. An exceptional geological site, its natural bridges along the Cesse Valley make for some awesome scenery.

Overnight in Le Somail.

Miles  41  Kms  65

Day 6 Tales of the tow path – locks, ports, tunnels & … staircases?

Heading for historic Béziers, set out along the Canal du Midi first, then join the Canal de la Robine. Cycle across the rural landscape from Sallèles-d’Aude, along pleasant country lanes through Ouveillan to meet the Canal du Midi again near the lively port of Capestang. Here, there’s a chance to visit the village’s fine collegiate church of Saint-Etienne and wonder at its 45m high Gothic bell-tower. Poilhes next, another village full of character and finally, as you enter today’s final furlongs towards the historic town of Béziers, it’s time to experience two more highly impressive pieces of engineering – the Canal du Midi’s famous Malpas Tunnel carved into solid rock and the ‘Fonserannes Staircase’, an amazing cascade of nine locks.

Overnight in Béziers.

Miles  34  Kms  55


Day 7 Lighthouses, lagoons & the ‘Venice of the Languedoc’

Today, the sea is calling, but be sure to visit the Romanesque crypt of St Nazaire cathedral as well as admire its fortified façade before you pedal out of Béziers. The cycling is canal-side first though, as you cross the Estagnol marshes via Port Cassafières, the unusual Libron lock and pretty St Joseph’s bridge to the ‘Round Lock’ (l’écluse ronde d’Agde) at the crossing point with the Hérault river at the ancient town of Agde. Built around 700BC, the town ranks amongst the oldest in France, but these days is more often associated with the modern architecture of holiday apartments along its peninsular. Don’t miss the late 12th century St Etienne cathedral is not only unusual for its colour – constructed  in distinctive black basalt – but for its precincts which were fortified by a paranoid bishop and include a 35m dungeon! Follow the Hérault as it flows into the Bagnas lagoon before keeping the Canal du Midi company for its final kilometre or two along the headland – Cap d’Agde – as it reaches its final destination by the iconic, red  and white Les Onglous lighthouse where its waters meet the Etang de Thau. From here, the vibrant Mediterranean port and resort of Sète, is just a pleasant pedal along the cycle path which runs the length of the lagoon, separating it from the Med’s Golfe du Lion. There’s something special about Sète, a town created by Louis XIV’s royal decree in 1660. The light and water play off the colours of the place in a wonderful way which has caught the eye of artists for centuries and seen the town called the ‘Venice of the Languedoc’. Ah, but what will you reflect upon at the end of your inspirational cycle ride along the Canal du Midi?

Overnight in Sète.

Miles  34  Kms  55

Day 8 Depart after breakfast

Depart after breakfast , or take time to enjoy just a little longer on the beach or all those delicious  Mediterranean flavours. There are regional trains from Sète to Toulouse (less than a 2 hour journey) if you wish.

Extra nights can be booked to allow more time to explore Béziers, Carcassonne or Sète at your leisure.

A note about the path:
The surface of the path is mostly good, largely gravel with some stretches of tarmac and others of grass or dirt.  You do however need to watch out for tree roots in places – more of an issue when the leaves start to fall. There may be path closures for essential maintenance work, but there is usually a signed diversion.

Accommodation Options

In Toulouse, Gardouch, Bram, Carcassonne, Le Somail, Béziers and Sète.

is in Toulouse, Gardouch, Bram, Carcassonne, Le Somail, Béziers and Sète. Selected properties include two charming guesthouses and five 3 star hotels. We are pleased to discuss details on request.

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