Canal Du Midi Advice

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby jbig » 20 Apr 2012, 2:14pm

I'm after a bit of advice about this well ridden route. I've been doing a fair bit of research but a bit more can't hurt.

My wife and I are planning on riding the Canal Du Midi from Toulouse to Sete in July. Despite it being her first proper bike trip (and I'm not exactly experienced) she has agreed to camp rather than hotels.

So first off, any recommendations for campsites along the way? I've got the Cicerone guide which mentions a few but would like some more ideas.
Second, we'd like at least one day along the way to chill off the bike. Carcasonne is an abvious attraction but any others?
Lastly, any experiences of the Vango Spirit 300+. Looks like the kind of reasonably priced tent we're after (our other is definitely not meant to be transported by bike!)

I know these are pretty open questions but your collected wisdom is most welcome.

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby johnb » 20 Apr 2012, 3:02pm

If you POP up to the cycle camping sub forum there is a thread titled, French Campsites opening times or dates, there is a campsite guide reccomended that is available on amazon and has a website also, may be of use to you.

I joined the Canal Du Midi at Carcassone and left it at lunchtime and continued on by road. I found it a bit boring, but its a case of each to his own.

There is a good municipal Campsites in Carcassone which you could stay in for a few days and do a bit of local cycling. I travelled the opposite direction to your proposed route. I came from Montpellier-Sete-Agde-Beziers-Narbonne. Closer you are to the coast the more expensive the campsites are typically around Sete you can pay 20pppn depending on time of year. But its a lovely part of the world and great for cycling.
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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby Goosey » 20 Apr 2012, 4:35pm

We did this trip last year which included a part of the Canal du Midi...

Carcassonne I'd heartily recommend. :)

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby Edwards » 20 Apr 2012, 5:28pm

Cycle Seven Blog has some specific information from people who have done the Canal.
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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby jbig » 20 Apr 2012, 6:00pm

Thanks folks. Like I said, most welcome.

Johnb, I know what you're saying about canal paths getting a little boring at times, but its going to be considerably more interesting than my normal riverside route which is my main road commute into work every day :) It will also suit my wife really well as she has quite an affinity for nice flat rides.

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby MadMalx » 20 Apr 2012, 6:06pm

Did Toulouse to Gruissan/Narbonne last summer with family (Mrs, children 11 and 13), bike each with 2 tent, mats, bags, stove. Did bit of canal but mostly on minor roads.

Campsite in Toulouse very near European bike express drop off is ok - but don't mix up with traveller site nearby!
Paved canal route for about 20miles south of Toulouse to Laugrais. Good rural campsite with pool 3 miles up hill at St Laurent but no shop. Beware Cassoulet night - goes on until the small hours.
Towpath beyond Laurgrais turns into hardpacked path - very hard work and not recommeded - follow minor roads is better. Ok on some other bits but often hard going.
Fanjeux campsite (on way to Limoux) was really nice (and lovely old village), but probably need to book or turn up with tearful children. If you do 30 miles with full kit before cycling up to Fanjeux first you will know why! Campsite couple of miles up and down from the village.
Most cheap sites are very lacking in grass by end of summer, and ground was rock hard. Limoux municipal in good location near river, but ended up tying guys to bike because ground was 1cm of soil followed by concrete.
Stayed at campsite called Ombrage des Oliviers south of Carcassone - ok but totally lacking in Ombrage (and possibly Olivier too).
Good cycle route south of Narbonne to Gruissan - go under motorway and follow canal south initially. Quiet campsite about 2 miles south of Narbonne centre just off the canal, but combilock gate means you have to arrive by the road route to get in.
Gruissan municipal near sea is again good location, but very busy and no grass. Gruissan area recommended for seeing flamingos in the wild.
Trip inland and up to Roqubrun (spelling) was well worth it - lovely village with great river beach and canoeing (recommend the half or full day trips, but you may get wet), plus good campsite.

Lots of great villages and good holiday. Would recommend trying to do most of your cycling in the mornings.

Did a tour in similar area 25 years ago, I remember Lagrasse was really nice area and has a municipal too.
Last edited by MadMalx on 20 Apr 2012, 7:44pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby matt_twam_asi » 20 Apr 2012, 6:18pm

Carcassonne is great, but the Cité can get packed in the summertime. The 'new' town is also worth a wander round.

Some nice villages along the canal to stop off in include Homps and Le Somail (where there's a fantastic used book store just out of the village if you like that sort of thing).

Narbonne is a good place to visit if you aren't already planning to go. Ditto Beziers.

Further from the canal Lagrasse is worth a look in, including the Abbey.

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby jbig » 20 Apr 2012, 6:52pm

More great stuff!

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Re: Canal Du Midi Advice

Postby MadMalx » 20 Apr 2012, 7:35pm

Just remembered this website - fantastic resource by expats who clearly love the place. I found their recommendations useful and accurate. ... llages.php

Agree about Le Somail being nice, also some good restaurants there.

One thing we found was the necessity to ensure lunch supplies bought before 12.30 or 1pm, unless you are dining out all the time (and sadly le menu a 50F is long since past). In rural parts where shops are sparse we always got a bit nervous if we didn't have supplies in by 12, everything closes most places for a couple of hours.