Adventure Bicycling the Canal Du Midi Continues

By Maggie LaCoste

Our last morning in Carcassonne was picture perfect: a great breakfast on the terrace at Carcassonne Guesthouse, overlooking the incredible fortress. No matter how long I look at La Cite, it is so unbelievable that it looks like a Disney movie set!  Having the opportunity to visit Carcassonne and tour La Cite has definitely been a highlight of my trip. Enjoying breakfast overlooking it is the perfect way to end this part of the trip. Patrick O’Sullivan is the perfect host, and helped us get the most our of our time in town.

Fairy tale La Cite

Fairy tale La Cite

After breakfast, we headed out of town, looking to connect with the Canal du Midi. Since the towpath into and out of Carcassonne is almost nonexistent, we biked for a couple of miles along a local road, picking up the Canal on the outskirts of town.  The towpath from Carcassonne to Trebes was very scenic, just like all the photos in magazines. The towpath surface was uneven and changed abruptly from hard packed to gravel to dirt and everything in between. But the scenery was so beautiful that it was easy to overlook the condition of the towpath.

The beautiful Canal du Midi

The beautiful Canal du Midi

Trebes was a great little town with many places to eat and a lovely port area. There was another large boat rental company there, and we watched many renters going through their required practical lesson on how to maneuver the boat along the Canal.  We soon made our way out of town, enjoying a nice stretch along the Canal. Shortly after the village of Marseillette the towpath deteriorated completely. Completely.  All the e-mails I had received about the condition of segments of the Canal were in fact true.

Seriously?

Seriously?

For the last several days, I had judged the towpaths by whether they were as wide as my panniers or as wide as my hips. Today I added a new category:  as wide as my tires.  No joke. Not only was the path in this section narrow, but there were deep ruts in the towpath.  Just like in skiing, if you get stuck in one of the ruts, it makes it very difficult to control your bike.  I kept telling myself to savor the adventure.  Interesting thing to try to do when you have a complete death grip on two handlebars!

After a seeming eternity, this section finally ended close to the town of Blomac. My husband and I agreed we were ready to get off the Canal for the day. We found a small local road that would take us to our destination for the night, Lezignan-Corbieres, a small village in the Corbieres wine region.  It was so nice to be bicycling with solid pavement beneath our tires and we started making great time, until we came to a deviation sign with no alternate route marked. We figured that they probably didn’t get too many tourists on this road. Luckily my navigator husband has a sixth sense for directions, and in no time, we were back on track, headed for our B&B for the night.

 

Corbieres Vineyards

Corbieres Vineyards

We were enveloped by vineyards. In every direction, for as far as you could see were vineyards. This is definitely beautiful country.  We laughed about our experiences on the Canal today, and doubted that we could have another day like this one.  I guess we will have to wait till tomorrow to see about that.

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Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.