We will pick you up at your arrival airport or train station and transport you and your bike to the starting point of your tour.
The tour begins just outside of Narbonne in the small village of Cuxac-d’Aude, France. Our hotel selection the night before you begin cycling is a charming B and B in a former 19th century winemaker’s house recently restored and updated.
You will be served a freshly prepared 3 course meal by your hosts including drinks in the wine cellar which has been converted to a unique dining space.
There are many interesting sites in Narbonne including the Cathedral de Saint Just and the renowned foodie market “Les Halles” which you may want to check out before you start the tour.
No formal cycling today.
Narbonne to Minerve
The route today meanders through the vines of the famous Minervois wine region, passing through the sleepy golden-stoned village of Bize-Minervois on the Cesse river. There is a romantic feel to Bize-Minervoise, with old stone houses covered in ivy with bright shutters and decorative iron balconies, old fashioned little shops, narrow cobbled alleys and gingham table cloths.
Visit the nearby co-operative of L’Oubilo for fantastic olive tasting and the Chateau de Cabezac to sample the local red wine.
Your destination for the day, Minerve, is an ancient Cathar village and stronghold. A designated “Grand Site de France”, the walled fortifications are still mostly intact. Strategically placed on a plateau in order to be more easily defended from marauding crusaders, the approach to Minerve by a single narrow winding road is nothing less than spectacular.
Distance: 68km, Climbing 680m
Minerve to Capestang
The route on Day 3 winds through the surrounding countryside, passing through the picturesque village of Olonzac which sits in the vines, a short distance from the Canal du Midi. Its lively weekly market makes it the economic heart throb of Minervois.
Constructed in the 1600’s, the Canal du Midi is a feat of early engineering. It formed a vital transport link for taking the regional wine to far horizons and thus greatly influenced growth in the region. It is now a popular greenway for boaters, hikers and cyclists.
Your route finishes in Capestang, which is a bustling centre full of cozy bars and restaurants. Markets on Wednesday and Sunday mornings on the Place Jean Jaurès provide an opportunity to sample the local produce and specialities.
Capestang spans the Canal du Midi and it is possible to eat dinner right on the canal.
Distance: 58km, Climbing 780m
Capestang to Pezenas
Today’s route takes in several traditional “circulade” villages which are typical of the Languedoc region. Originating in medieval times, these villages are so named because they have been built in concentric circles generally with a church or chateau at the centre. Steeped in over 1000 years of history and winemaking, they have changed very little over the centuries.
Distance: 60km, Climbing 575m
Rest Day: Explore Pezenas
Pezena’s medieval town centre is full of history and is thriving with a variety of artisans, boutiques and cafes.
Pezenas was once the capital of ancient Languedoc and has maintained a regal character. Explore the pedestrian-only historic centre and the ancient Jewish Quarter. You will want to keep a camera handy. Pezenas is a local artistic hub. Pop in to the many artisan workshops and galleries; there are marked routes you can follow.
You will be spoiled for choice with an abundance of quality restaurants from local to gourmet cuisine.
Rest day: relax and explore the historic town of Pezenas
On Saturday, there is an all-day market in the Cours Jean Jaures which is one of the largest and most vibrant in the area.
Pezenas to Moureze
Moureze is a quaint town surrounded by some of the most unique landscapes in the region. The Cirque de Moureze is one of the oldest “Grand Sites” of France. The limestone rock has been carved and sculpted by erosion creating unusual rock formations resembling fairy chimneys.
Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats that cling to the side of the rocks along the route.
Distance: 55km, Climbing 820m
Moureze to St. Guilhem le Desert
The route leaves Moureze and passes by Lac Salagou providing some amazing vistas over this beautiful lake which is popular with campers and triathetes alike. There are some short and sharpish hill climbs through the red rocky hills which are typical of the unique terrain around the lake.
You will pass by the roman “Pont de Diable” as you approach St-Guilhem le Desert, your final destination for the day. St-Guilhem le Desert is both the name of an abbey and the village that grew up around it. The romanesque abbey is a rare beauty and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The village has retained its medieval personality with old houses in amber stone, an ancient tower, and a shady square with a fountain at its centre. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is counted among the “Plus Beaux Villages” of France and is home to numerous artists’ studios, shops and restaurants.
The extensive underground stalagmite caves the “Grottes of Clamouse” are nearby and are worth a visit.
Distance: 55km, Climbing 772m
St. Guilhem le Désert to Bouzigues
No tour of Languedoc would be complete without a trip to the Mediterranean coast. Bouzigues is one of the prettiest villages along this stretch of coastline. Facing the Etang de Thau it is a hub of mussel and oyster cultivation. The waterfront is filled with bustling cafes preparing fresh seafood delights for you to sample.
Your tour ends here. We will pick up your bikes and transport you on to your next local destination or the nearby airport/train station for your onward journey.
Distance: 60km, Climbing 680m
Superb assistance for self-guided cycle tour – my wife and I purchased a one-week self-guided cycle tour in Languedoc in October 2016. Denise and Bruce both did a great job for us. If we were to plan another such tour there, we would not consider anyone but Vie et Velo.