Midi-Pyrenees Scenic Cycling Routes - Canal de Garonne
CANAL DE GARONNE
Location: the Tarn et Garonne and Haute Garonne départements. From Lamagistère (66 km northwest of Montauban) to Toulouse. The Canal de Garonne Greenway (the canal is also known as the 'Canal des Deux Mers') continues in one direction as far as Bordeaux and in the other to Sète (the Thau Basin).
Length: 95 km (length of the section in Midi-Pyrénées).
History of the Canal de Garonne:
Linking Toulouse to the Atlantic Ocean, the Canal de Garonne was created in the 19th century in the sole aim of extending the Canal du Midi which had been built two centuries earlier and runs between Toulouse and the Mediterranean. Ever since, the two waterways have formed an exceptional engineering structure: the Canal des Deux Mers.
Description of the green route:
The green route runs for almost 100km alongside the Canal de Garonne in the Midi-Pyrénées. It will take you through a variety of rural landscapes, from the Fronton vineyards to the orchards of the Tarn-et-Garonne. Your itinerary will be interspersed with a number of major tourist sites, starting with Toulouse and Moissac.
Sites of interest along the route:
- Valence d’Agen: this town is best known for its festival "Au fil de l’eau… Une histoire". It is held every summer on the banks of the Canal and traces back over the lives of the town’s inhabitants in the last century. It features a historical show involving 450 actors in period costume and numerous sound and lighting engineers.
- Moissac: a major resting point along the Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle pilgrim route. The town has a Roman abbey that is a listed Unesco heritage site and boasts the Pont Napoléon, a feat of engineering that carries the Canal de Garonne across the River Tarn. It is also a trading hub for South-West France’s fruit produce, particularly the AOC grapes that bear the town’s name: Chasselas de Moissac.
- Castelsarrasin: while the town has a selection of fairly classic monuments (churches, chapel, town hall etc.), it also has more original sites such as the Bamboo Parc public gardens. These gardens feature a rich diversity of bamboo species together with bonsai trees and animals.
- Montech: this town is home to the Pente d’Eau, a unique engineering structure which uses a one-of-a-kind process. It works like a kind of elevator for boats, allowing them to cross a 14m vertical threshold in just 10 minutes.
- 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 centre.
- Nearby sites: Montauban