Midi-Pyrenees Scenic Cycling Route - Canal du Midi
CANAL DU MIDI
Location: the Haute Garonne and Aude départements. From Toulouse to the Seuil de Naurouze (53 km northwest of Carcassonne). This route continues in one direction to Sète / Thau Basin (in the Languedoc-Roussillon region) and in the other direction, via the Canal des Deux Mers Greenway, as far as Bordeaux (Aquitaine region).
Length: 48km (length of the section in Midi-Pyrénées).
History of the Canal du Midi:
Linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea: Charlemagne had fantasised about it and Pierre-Paul Riquet actually went ahead and created it! With assistance from 12,000 workers for 14 years, Louis XIV's engineer dug a 240km canal between Toulouse and the Mediterranean shores: the Canal du Midi. This is extended by the Canal de Garonne between Toulouse and the Atlantic Ocean and his construction is now listed on the Unesco world heritage register.
Description of the green route:
The green route borders the Canal du Midi and is designed for cycling and roller-blading. The path is 3m wide with an asphalt surface almost all the way along. Only the last kilometre, in the Aude, is on sandy ground.
Starting in the centre of Toulouse, the route will lead you through the green valleys of the Lauragais district. You will be able to enjoy a pastoral setting of wheat and sunflower fields from atop your bicycle. Your route will also be interspersed with locks and beautiful rural villages, starting with Montgiscard, Baziège and Ayguevives. These villages are marked by Southern Gothic architectural style and feature particularly interesting bell walls.
Sites of interest along the route:
- Toulouse: the capital city of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the "ville rose", is popular both on account of its dynamic economy and its laid-back atmosphere. Between appointments, the ‘Toulousains’ like to hang out and sip at cool drinks on sunny café terraces and are always ready to enjoy the city’s lively evening festivities. Historical monuments, boutique fashion stores, cultural centres…
- The Gothic churches of the Lauragais district: the Catholics built a new style of church here in resistance of the Cathars who were dominant in the Lauragais district in the Middle Ages: the Southern Gothic style. Several of these have exquisite bell walls, notably in the villages of Montgiscard, Baziège and Ayguevives.
- The Lauragais locks: your route along the Canal du Midi will take you past locks which are real historical monuments. Négra is one of the better known locks and was a customary stopping point for travellers between Toulouse and Agde.
- Seuil de Naurouze: at the highest point of the Canal du Midi, the Seuil de Naurouze is also known as the point where the water splits. Here, the water from Lac de St Ferréol supplies the Canal to flow towards the Atlantic or Mediterranean.
- Nearby sites: the Bastide town of Revel, Lac de St Ferréol, Musée et Jardins du Canal du Midi, the village of Sorèze.