Cycle the Canal du Midi

8 days
from
£1,299
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Moderate
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Trip code: 
MEC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cycling Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Cycle the Canal du Midi and discover the stunning vineyards, chateaux and waterways around one of the most picturesque parts of France. Our route passes through quintessential French villages such as Laure-Minervois and Homps where you will feel the 'douceur de vivre' as you soak up the sun and sample local wine from Les Corbieres region. From bridge to bridge, from lock to lock, this trip offers a wonderfully relaxed cycling experience as you wind your way along the Canal du Midi towards the enticing Mediterranean Sea.

Highlights

  • Explore traditional French villages 
  • Delicious local food and wine
  • Discover Carcassonne and Narbonne

Key information

  • 5 days cycling with vehicle support (except on cycle paths)
  • 50% tarmac roads and 50% unpaved canal paths 
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs
  • 7 nights hotels

 

What's included

  • All accommodation 
  • Local guide throughout 
  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches
  • Flights (if booking flight inclusive)
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Personal insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

5

Pace:

This holiday is run at a relaxed pace to allow time to stop and take in the fascinating surroundings.

Terrain:

There are some small climbs on this tour though the majority of the cycling is relatively flat with 50% on tarmac and 50% on gravel paths/ cycle paths

Day by day breakdown
Day 235.0km/21.0miles
Day 343.0km/26.0miles
Day 450.0km/31.0miles
Day 531.0km/19.0miles
Day 633.0km/20.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly to Toulouse; transfer to Carcassonne.

    You will be met by an Exodus guide at Toulouse airport in the afternoon and transferred to Carcassonne town Ville Basse (approx 30 minutes). After checking in to the hotel, you can visit the town's picturesque central square and the Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortress settlement with a history that exceeds two and a half thousand years, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting and trip briefing as well as time to check the bikes and make adjustments.
    Comfortable hotel

  • Day 2

    Loop ride around Carcassonne to the foot of the “Montagne Noire”.

    In the morning, the guests will cycle in the direction of the foot of the Montagnes Noires whose rivers & streams feed into the Canal du Midi. This will be opportunity for the guests to discover the region of Les Corbieres, renowned for its wine, limestone type landscape and Mediterranean influence. The group will stop for a coffee in the nice village of Trebes, and the church which has the distinction of having within it painted 14th century corbels that support the structure. Following this stop, the group will then reach the hamlet of Rustiques and a nice vineyard to stop for lunch. On the way back the last few km will be along the Canal du Midi to give a taste for the next two cycling days!

    Cycle approx. 35km
    Comfortable hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Cycle from Carcassonne over locks and bridges to Homps.

    After breakfast you will cycle almost exclusively along the Canal du Midi, following the canal paths and designated cycle paths. Today’s ride is very relaxing and mostly downhill, a succession of locks, bridges and lovely villages like Trèbes, Marseillette, la Redorte and Homps await. You will have time to visit all the towns, including the fruit trees, rice fields and almond plantations in Marseillette. You will leave the canal and continue to Homps where you will spend the night.

    Cycle approx. 43km
    Comfortable hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Follow the Canal du Midi from Homps to Nissan Les Enserune.

    Today is another nice cycling day along the Canal du Midi and entering the Minervois country. Minervois is a flat region surrounded by olive trees, with a strong Cathar influence. You will cross the beautiful Canal de la Robine coming up from Narbonne. Then, time permitting, it is possible (on option €6) to visit the Roman museum of pottery Amphoralis. The rest of the ride will lead you to the nice town of Capestang. Before getting to Nissan les Enserune it is possible to visit (on option €6) the Enserume Oppidum, the remains of an old Gallic village, a remarkable site.

    Cycle approx. 50km
    Comfortable hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Cycle through vineyards to Narbonne.

    After breakfast you will head South-East from Nissan towards the village of Lespignan and its view-point over the surrounding countryside, before heading across the river Aude and through picturesque vineyards to Fleury. You will then return to Narbonne via Coursan along the beautiful Canal de la Robine, a lateral branch of the Canal du Midi.

    Cycle approx. 31km
    Comfortable hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Cycle from Narbonne to Gruissan via the Montagne de la Clap vineyard.

    After a relaxed breakfast in Narbonne we get on the bikes and cycle out of the town alongside the picturesque Canal de la Robine. After a short time of cycling we will reach the Montagne de la Clap, a protected natural area and the home to the Languedoc-la Clap wines and vineyards. From here we have a short ride to our overnight accommodation in the pretty coastal town of Gruissan.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Free day in Gruissan; enjoy some down time in the charming old town, relax on the beach or visit Narbonne.

    Today is a free day in Gruissan, there are plenty of options for things to do like taking a self-guided ride around the stunning Sigean sea lake or wandering around the picturesque old town centre. There is also an option to catch the public bus back into Narbonne, this takes roughly 30 minutes and will cost between 2 – 4 Euros (please inform the guide if you wish to do this and they will arrange bus tickets).  





    Cycle approx. 40km
    Comfortable hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Toulouse airport; fly to London.

    Spend the morning in Narbonne at your own pace before transfering to the airport to fly home.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

UK passport holders do not need visas for this trip. Other nationalities should check with the relevant embassies.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are obligatory.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 2 picnic lunches are included throughout the trip.
We have not included any evening meals in the price of the trip to allow you to take advantage of the local restaurants and cafes along the route and give you more freedom over what you eat. Our guide will be able to recommend their favourite local restaurants and will have planned some stops at good coffee shops to break up the days rides. The Canal du Midi area is well known throughout France for having an abundance of great restaurants and an extremely high standard of food. You can also expect to sample some amazing wines on this tour as we pass through several wine growing areas and stop at a vineyard for lunch on day three.

Weather

The south of France has on average 200-250 days of sunshine per year. Typically November is the wettest month so we avoid running trips at this time of the year. In the summer months the temperatures range from the high 20’s to mid-30C. In the winter you can expect the temperature to be between 10C - 20C. Due to the wind from the coast, and the mountains to the north and east the weather can be changeable and unpredictable at times. It is not uncommon to be riding through clouds and drizzle to then have clear blue skies and sunshine ten minutes later. On every departure you can expect to be cycling in shorts and a jersey only, but we suggest you pack some warm and waterproof clothing.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified Road.

Average daily distance: 42km (26 miles) with vehicle support on some days

No. of days cycling: 5

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate). Please see the introductory pages of the cycling brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.

We use mainly canal paths, cycle paths and quiet roads where possible. The cycling itinerary is very relaxed and the days are broken up into short sections to allow time to see towns and attractions along the way. There are no steep climbs or technically difficult sections but at times the route is undulating and requires previous cycling experience. A cycling guide will be riding with the group at all times and our support vehicle will be available on some days of the itinerary to set up lunch and assist the group on the more challenging days of the itinerary,

Accommodation

Hotels

We use a variety of 2 and 3-star hotels throughout the tour, all have en suite facilities and are ideally located along the route. All of the hotels are close to towns offering plenty of options for places to eat in the evenings and making it easy for you to access the towns in your free time.

Please note: Clients paying a single supplement will have sea view rooms at the hotel Port Beach in Gruissan. A supplement is available for double rooms wanting to upgrade to sea view rooms on this night, please enquire when booking. All twin & twin share rooms are street view. 

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2016
    Graham Swift

    A Lovely Holiday

    This was our first time cycling in France and Quinten our tour leader made sure every aspect of the holiday was taken care of. Unlike Italy where there are usually plenty of cafes for drink and snack stops, there wasn't on this route in France so Quinten supplied supplied great French picnics everyday, a real treat.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational moments like Carcassonne itself, the beauty of the Canal du Midi and the excellent vineyard tour.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, Quinten couldn't do enough for you, including those legendary picnics. Quinten also owned the bikes so he made sure everything was working ok. Also booked great restaurants every night for all of us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whilst the overall terrain was relatively flat with a few undulations the condition of the Canal du Midi is quite poor so technically you have to be confident at cycling over rough ground at times, tree roots and ruts etc.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great holiday, I recommend it.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 0208 772 3936