If you’re thinking about cycling the Canal du Midi from Toulouse to Sete, finding the best online resources can help you plan the best trip possible. Here are 3 of my favorites that provide the best information and resources for an itinerary that can be challenging for the unprepared.
What originally began as a bike rental business in Beziers has evolved into one of the best bicycling resources for the Canal du Midi and Languedoc region. The business is a labor of love for owners Timo and Isabella. After establishing Relax Bike Tours & Rentals as the top bike rental company in the region, they’ve recently expanded their business to include self-guided tour packages.
Bike rentals at Relax Bike Tours & Rentals are first class, as reflected in their stellar online customer reviews. Quality, well-maintained bikes are very important for the often challenging surfaces along the Canal du Midi and bikes rented here are quality all the way. Bikes are equipped with puncture-resistant tires, very important along this route, unless you want to ruin your holiday repairing tire punctures! The company provides a delivery service at any location along from Toulouse to Sete. Pricing depends on the number of bikes and location desired. Information on pricing by location can be found on the bike rental page.
For additional information on rentals, you can e-mail Timo and Isabella at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to take advantage of Timo and Isabella’s in-depth knowledge of the Canal du Midi and the Languedoc, take a look at their self-guided tours. The company is an accredited travel agency and offers 5-8 day packages including luggage transfer, storage for extra bags and detailed custom maps with alternative route options on small local roads through quaint small local villages. Timo’s custom maps offer a perfect alternative to some of the more challenging sections of the Canal du Midi still under development. Relax Bike Tours & Rental self-guided tour options are perfect for beginners as well as experienced cyclists. If you want to customize a tour, Timo and Isabella will be happy to help you find the perfect package.
This is the official website of the 800km cycle route that includes the Canal de Garonne that runs from Bordeaux to Toulouse and the Canal du Midi that runs from Toulouse to Sete. Together with the Gironde Estuary, the itinerary runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
The website format is the template currently used by many of the major cycling routes in France. It’s easy to use and navigate and has most of the basic information needed to begin planning a cycling vacation. Of particular help is the breakdown of the overall itinerary by stages with useful information like distances, difficulty and elevations. A stage map will help as you make decisions on where to stay, with links to approved accommodations and support services. Also included with stage information is addresses of local tourism offices, train stops and links to GPX files.
There’s information to help you choose an itinerary based on your skill level, number of days you’d like to cycle, things to see and do and whether you’re traveling with kids. If you don’t have the time to plan your own trip, there are links to approved local tour operators who can help choose the perfect turn-key cycling holiday.
The “Prepare for Your Trip” section has some helpful advice for pre-trip planning. Of particular interest is the section with information on road conditions along the route. Many itineraries do repairs during the summer and fall, and other itineraries are still under development like the Canal du Midi. Access to information on route work, deviations and other issues that might close segments of the itinerary are important, and you can access that information here.
As part of its goal to be the authority on the Canal du Midi, Relax Bike Tours & Rentals developed this website to provide in depth information to those planning a cycling trip along the canal. While the website does link back to the company’s rental and tour business, it’s also packed with resources and information you won’t easily find anyplace else.
Some of my favorite resources include:
- Topographical maps of the canal, broken into 27 stages including detailed information on the cycle path, historical information and attractions on that stage
- An interactive map with B&B’s, hotels, Airbnb’s, campgrounds and support services
- Information on the “secret system of bicycle directional signs along the Canal du Midi”, a system of stickers/signs put up by different bike companies and how to use them to navigate the itinerary
- A list of locks along the Canal du Midi, the Canal de la Robine and the Canal de la Junction
If you’ve followed my website over the years, you know that I have strong reservations about recommending the Canal du Midi, especially to recreational cyclists, families and those traveling with panniers. The itinerary was not designed for cycling and as such, it is largely still under development, as indicated on the route map above. With this said, many people have their hearts set on cycling part or all of the Canal. Or, if you’re like me, you may need to travel part of the Canal du Midi to connect to another cycling itinerary. If this is the case, you need to be prepared for the challenges of the itinerary.
If you’re considering spending a weekend or more cycling on or near the Canal du Midi, do yourself a favor and take a look at these websites. By taking advantage of the route knowledge of people such as Timo and Isabella Langerwerf at Relax Bike Tours & Rentals, I’m confident you’ll be able to plan a great cycling holiday just like an insider!