Arrival and exploring historic Carcassonne
We will pick you up at your arrival airport or train station and transport you and your bike to the ancient town of Carcassonne which is the starting point of your tour.
With its amazing castle and ramparts, Carcassonne is one of the best preserved medieval fortified towns in Europe and is a designated UNESCO World heritage site.
Walk along the protective walls surrounding the medieval city (a distance of approx 3km and including 52 towers). The count’s castle which stands against the old enclosure is an excellent introduction to medieval military architecture. There are two main gates into the fortified city, the Aude gate and the Narbonne Gate featuring two enormous towers.
Explore the historic centre with its many narrow streets and artisan shops. Be sure to stop and admire the Saint-Nazaire Basilica. Select one of the many restaurants in the old town for a traditional Languedoc feast.
Explore the historic citadel of Carcassonne: no formal cycling
Carcassonne to Homps
Let’s get cycling! This section of the canal is particularly tranquil and features the impressive stone bridge at Le Redorte as well as many picturesque places to stop for a picnic. Marseillette is a good choice for a picnic lunch stop by the canalside.
In the afternoon, take a break at the Ecluses (locks) d’Aiguille, at Puicheric – the lock-keeper’s sculptures are fascinating!
Homps, your destination for the day, is a lively village located directly on the canal. Once an important hub for wine exportation from the region, Homps now caters to the many walkers and cyclists who use the canal with its charming artisan shops and cafes overlooking the water.
Distance: 50km, Climbing 120m
Homps to Capestang
Today’s route leaves Homps and mainly follows the canal path, passing through the quaint villages of Argens-Minervois, Roubia and Paraza.
Le Somail is our suggested lunch stop – with its arched stoned bridge it is one of the prettiest villages on the canal. Despite the tiny size of the village, there are a number of good canalside restaurants to choose from. Be sure to check out the antique book shop before heading off again.
After Le Somail, the route will leave the canal – meandering through the gently rolling countryside before finishing back on the canal at Capestang. Capestang 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. Celebrate a day well-cycled with a cold drink right on the canal. Enjoy the final evening meal of your tour – freshly prepared by your host based on traditional recipes and local produce.
Distance: 45km, Climbing 200m
Capestang to Agde
From Capestang you will cycle along country lanes through the vines before rejoining the canal path near Béziers with its famous 9 locks, the “Ecluses de Fonseranes”. The city of Beziers is built upon a stone bluff in a bend of the Orb river. Its beautiful houses and churches have seen some horrific historical events, including the public burning in 1209 of several hundred Cathars and their sympathisers. Happily the town’s history also has a lighter side in the traditions of wine production and art. The works of architects and sculptors can be admired at every turn, notably the sculptor Injalbert.
The Canal du Midi was actually begun in Beziers by one of the town’s most famous sons, Paul Riquet. The waterways, both river and canal, were vital transport links in taking the region’s wine to far horizons. In the 19th century Béziers became the undisputed capital of the Languedoc wine producing region.
After Beziers, you will continue to follow the canal path towards the Mediteranean. The canal opens up as it approaches the coast. Here the towpath is newly paved most of the way and backed by dunes. Why not stop for a refreshing dip in the sea at Portiragnes Plage.
As you enter Adge, you will pass the historic L’Écluse Ronde, a canal lock that connects the Hérault River to the Canal du Midi. Built in 1676, it’s unique round design allowed boats to turn around. The lock is still in use, but is no longer round as it was expanded in 1978 to allow larger boats to pass.
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. There are regular trains from Agde back to Carcassonne.
Alternatively, consider combining this trip with our “Along the Med” itinerary to continue leisurely cycling along the beautiful Mediteranean coast for another 3 days.
Distance: 50km, Climbing 180m