By bike on the Canal du Midi in Lauragais

Castelnaudary 2 days

localisation-Castelnaudary

The Canal du Midi is getting a facelift (cutting down plane trees, maintaining engineering structures, ...) Before starting your escapade, we advise you to inquire about the condition of the trails here.Bike roaming is currently practiced on unstabilized, sometimes rugged terrain, so for a successful experience, choose a mountain bike and VTC type of mount.

portrait-medaillon-dorian

Tried and tested for you by
DORIAN, Canal therapist
to the Agence de Développement Touristique de l’Aude

Cycle back in time along the Canal du Midi under the lush greenery of ancient plane trees, for an experience of pure relaxation to be enjoyed (without moderation) with friends, admiring the mechanics of this living work of art!

Let go and indulge in life’s simple pleasures, meeting the friendly local people who are as proud as they are passionate…

Your efforts are rewarded with a serving of the local speciality of Lauragais, the iconic Castelnaudary Cassoulet!

  • Itineraries
  • Nature
  • Slowtourism

01 Highlight

Self-prescribed wellness!

Your anti-burnout therapy!

Among friends, this getaway from the daily grind can only do you good.

With the September sun comes a non-negotiable offer, that of a fabulous bike ride to admire the scenery at your own pace. It promises to be a magical experience.

Table d'orientation à Montferrand, Lauragais, ©Office de Tourisme de Castelnaudary

From Villefranche-de-Lauragais station, you’ll reach the Canal du Midi via the little port of Gardouch…

What the expert says

Bring the right equipment: mountain bike, helmet, spare inner tubes, and a gel seat if you’re prone to soreness. Planning a solo adventure? Then don’t forget your “Chillout Lounge” playlist.

En VTT le long du Canal du Midi ©Pixabay
Péniche le long du Canal du Midi ©Ailium Production-ADT de l'Aude

A living waterside setting

The majestic 200-year-old plane trees form a nave that invites you to follow the canal path. Lock after lock, between ancient washhouses, bridges and aqueducts, you’ll contemplate life on the Canal. Walkers will smile and say hello, while boat-owners carry out repairs on their barge, anglers sit quietly on the bank, and ducks swim away as you approach.
After pedalling a short distance, the landscape changes. The surrounding silence is interrupted by the leaves of weeping willows rustling in the wind and the sound of squawking birds.

02Highlight

In the shadow of a Genius

A visionary’s chronicles

Pierre-Paul Riquet was a man with a dream, a dream that became reality. Within his lifetime, he would build one of the world’s greatest inland waterways. At the highest point of the emblematic Seuil de Naurouze watershed stands an obelisk that was erected in honour of Pierre-Paul Riquet. This magical site oozes with the presence of the ingenious designer… here, even the waters pause to decide which way to flow, to the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea.
Le Ségala hamlet was founded during the building of the Canal du Midi. This small port, which was the first stopping place after the Seuil de Naurouze, gradually attracted bargemen, who settled here.

“I have a dream!”

Play Video
Obélisque de Riquet à Montferrand ©Office de Tourisme de Castelnaudary

A top favourite: 

Béthany Yates – Professional Guide

Among P.P. Riquet’s ambitions for the Naurouze basin was the construction of a port like the one at Place Royale in Paris, with houses, boating shops and a statue of Louis XIV aboard a water chariot… but it wasn’t to be!

Near the Seuil de Naurouze watershed

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Ecole de kitesurf Glisse et Kite

LE RELAIS DE RIQUET

LABASTIDE-D'ANJOU

En savoir +

Hmmm… You simply must stop in the charming Hamlet of Le Ségala to enjoy a break on the shady terrace of the village restaurant, Le Relais de Riquet.
The “all in-house” menu concocted by Pascal, the talented chief sommelier, is accompanied by a selection of the best local wines… at moderate prices!

It’s already time to straddle our impatient bikes once again and whiz past the enchanting gardens that offer us a glimpse of life scenes and the architectural detail of the mansion facades.

Feet in the mud
hands in the clay

An impressive building emerges up ahead... the Not Brothers’ Pottery, an enchanting place that offers a flashback to the 19th-century industrial era. With their clay-covered hands, these authentic craftspeople are proud of the items they sell. By being discreet you might be treated to a rare and privileged moment! This family business is one of the last in France to maintain a living heritage!

Fabrication de la Cassole à la Poterie Not, Mas Sainte-Puelle ©Ludovic Charles-ADT de l'Aude

03Highlight

The “water mirror” of Castelnaudary

You must of course stop at the iconic Cassoulet capital.

The heart of the old town will surprise you with some of its hidden monuments… private mansions, the Verdun covered market, the ancient convent of Les Carmes and the Cugarel mill…

Castelnaudary port opens onto a vast lake: The Grand Bassin… a unique heritage feature that was recently equipped with floating timber walkways to allow visitors to go all the way round it.

This favourite walkers’ spot is popular with Instagrammers and offers an emblematic panorama of the old town and the Saint-Michel collegiate church and its reflection on the water.

If you’re lucky, you’ll meet “Gertrude”, the lake’s majestic “male” swan!

Commerces à Castelnaudary

A top favourite:

Behind schedule? Already tired, or just fancy visiting the town?  Castelnaudary has no shortage of accommodation where you’ll be greeted with a smile! Make the most of the little food shops to stock up again before you leave! 
Adeline Pech – Castelnaudary Tourist Office

The Port is lined with colourful barges, including one called the “Madame Odile de la Capitainerie” (and don’t forget the aristocratic particle!) which invites boaters and cyclists to take another tourist leaflet.

Before dinner, enjoy a refreshing drink on the shady terrace of a restaurant or wine bar, or get yourself invited aboard a barge.

Hypnotic moments

Enjoy a bucolic instant and take a few more pictures at Saint Roch lock, the perfect place to stroll and learn what it means to marvel at the simple things…

To the subdued sound of the water, contemplate the lock keeper opening and closing the four-gate sluice to “raise” the boats.

Écluse de Saint Roch à Castelnaudary ©Office de Tourisme de Castelnaudary

04 Highlight

Locks and temporality

castelnaudary, ecluse saint roch

Beneath the green shutters

Once occupied by lock keepers in charge of ensuring the structures’ smooth operation, the lock houses bear witness to the past of these waterways. They are now guesthouses, restaurants, art studios, exhibition venues and boutiques full of local produce…
The large plaques above the doorways of these lock houses indicate the next stages of your wonderful adventure.
The tranquillity of the locks with their well-oiled mechanisms, and of couples picnicking along the towpath, is interrupted only by our own voices and fits of laughter.

A storeroom in the Mill

The Vivier Watermill Boutique near Castelnaudary sells local products, a range of flours, and culinary treats to take away!

05Highlight

Open-air cafés & Slow-food treats

Feathery favourites!

The Grail awaits you at the Port of Bram ! It comes in the form of a glass of chilled white wine on the lovely terrace of the L’Ile aux Oiseaux Restaurant in Bram.
The open-air, cabin-style atmosphere is inviting and colourful, and the soft cushions offer comfort after long hours in the saddle. Seafood and grilled fish will delight your tastebuds and fill your stomach.

Restaurant l’île aux oiseaux à Bram ©ADT de l'Aude

With direct access via a canal, the gate leads to the grounds of the Domaine du Château de la Prade in Bram where you’ll discover an impressive ochre-coloured building featuring a sundial.

After a warm welcome by the owners, your spacious, comfortable rooms await you.

The garden is an enchanting breakfast spot where you can tranquilly admire a pair of parading peacocks in the hope that they will display their colourful fans of feathers.

Paon-2019-cr-pixabay

Concierge service

Thanks to the recognisable plaque fixed to partner tourism establishments, the Accueil Vélo Brand guarantees cycling tourists receive good hospitality and benefit from cycle-friendly services and facilities.

Visite du Musée Les Essarts à Bram ©Ville de Bram

Definitely worth doing!

Back in the saddle, whistling the tune of Yves Montand’s “A Bicyclette”, you’ll head for the village of Bram to visit the Eburomagus Archaeology Museum and the fabulous Art & Culture Centre, Les Essar[t]s, an eclectic site that has nothing to envy of the best Parisian exhibition venues. Bram is the largest circular village in Europe. The late 11th/early 12th century village centre is built in concentric circles around the church whose role was to protect the village, both spiritually and physically.
Armed with train tickets, you’ll place your bikes vertically in the bike stand on the train, which moves out of the little station of Bram…
See you soon, Monsieur P.P. Piquet, to explore another section of the Canal du Midi and the Robine Canal.

portrait-medaillon-dorian

Dorian Matéos

Canalotherapist
-ADT de l'Aude-

What the expert says

“It doesn’t matter if your name isn’t Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault or Lance Armstrong. The Canal du Midi is not about performance… it’s a discovery to be savoured, and shared! All the same, your bike trip does require a minimum of preparation.
First of all, don’t even try following the banks of the canal on a self-service city bike. Instead, find yourself a “real” bike that can handle the towpath terrain and ensure you enjoy your adventure.
This section really is an open-air museum that explores the rolling landscape of Lauragais, the typical village architecture, and the mills, dovecotes and exceptional engineering structures dotted along the way. And you can count on the people of Aude to help you out with the slightest problem and send you on your way with a jar of homemade jam in your bag!”.

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Try the experience yourself...

Hotels, restaurants, activities, getaway ideas… see our favourite addresses to ensure you get the most out of your experience
in Lauragais Audois.

VÉLOS SEVERAC

Cycles MONTFERRAND

LE PAS DE NAUROUZE

Restaurant MONTFERRAND

LA MAISON ECLUSIERE DOMERGUE

Furnished accommodation MAS-SAINTES-PUELLES

From 994€ per week

PÉNICHE KAPADOKYA - CABINE SÈTE

Chambres d'hôtes (guestrooms) MAS-SAINTES-PUELLES

LE GRAND BASSIN - CHAMBRE MAUZAC

Chambres d'hôtes (guestrooms) CASTELNAUDARY

Sud de France Développement

HÔTEL DU CANAL

Hotel CASTELNAUDARY

LES ESSAR(T)S

Leisure equipment BRAM

LE CLOS D'ANDRÉ - CHAMBRE N°1

Chambres d'hôtes (guestrooms) CASTELNAUDARY

From 75€ per night

Tips for getting organised

Look for accommodation with the “Accueil Vélo seal of approval, where you'll be able to park your bike in a secured facility for several days.

Bikes are allowed on most regional express trains (TER) in Occitanie, free of charge and without prior booking. Make sure you equip your bike with robust bags, to avoid carrying a heavy backpack that becomes a bit of a nuisance by the end of the day.

It'll be easy to make your way back to the departure point thanks to the many stations dotted along the route and which come in handy if you encounter a problem or if the weather suddenly turns.

A few essentials: cap, windproof & waterproof jacket, chamois leather saddle cover, mobile phone power bank, anti-mosquito spray, etc.

Getting her?

By car

15 minutes from Toulouse - Motorway exit Villefranche-de-Lauragais.

By train

TER Toulouse-Narbonne rail line as far as Villefranche-de-Lauragais or Avignonet-Lauragais (fewer stops). Both stations are close to the Canal du Midi.

By bike

Don’t hesitate to rent a hybrid or mountain bike. Most are available in Ebike models.

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