Bicycling The Canal du Midi: The Best Comes Last

By Maggie LaCoste

So the last two nights I have fallen asleep working on my daily posts from the road. Both days were pretty hard riding and a bit stressful, but as each day before, were full of adventure and great stories. But today, my last on the Canal du Midi was such a special one that I am skipping ahead….I’ll have time when I return home to write more about the missing days.

My destination last night was Marseillan, a small town on the Bassin de Thau. The town is best known for its oysters, reputed to be some of the best in France. It has a small port, is not very touristy, and when I was planning my trip, it just seemed like a great place to stay.  It is a deviation from the Canal du Midi itinerary, but only about 5 km. The day had been full of ups and downs but from the moment we arrived in Marseillan, the day was perfect.

Marseillan Port

Marseillan Port

Our B&B for the night, Le Petit Hotel was gorgeous, complete with beautiful terrace, swimming pool and two gracious and charming hosts, Birget and Peter. A glass of the cold local rose wine that we have become fond of during the trip was all it took to melt away the sore muscles from the day’s ride. A great seafood dinner of local oysters, reliving our cycling stories from the day.  What a great way to end the day!

Cold, crisp local oysters!

Cold, crisp local oysters!

After a great breakfast, we sadly said our goodbyes to Birget and Peter, but promised to return again, but for a much longer stay.  Our destination was Sete, and our route from Marseillan was a relatively new cycle path to Marseillan Plage, connecting to the new cycle path along the sea to Sete. The morning was gorgeous, and the scenery was too.  This is really a gorgeous part of France and to experience it by bike was a highlight of my week.

Miles of white sand beaches along bike path

Miles of white sand beaches along bike path

The great bike path end gorgeous scenery continued all to way to Sete. I believe that it is less than a year that this new cycle path has been open. Before the new cycle path, bicyclists had to ride on busy road to travel to Sete.  Judging from the many, many cyclists we saw on the path, the investment on the part of the local department was well worth it. This bike path along the sea is a perfect example of the impact safe cycle paths can have on tourism and the economy.  After observing the number of families cycling to the beach for several hours, my husband and I discussed bringing our family back to this lovely area.

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Other departments along the Canal du Midi could benefit from observing the impact of this new cycle path to Sete, perhaps improving the quality of the towpaths in their jurisdictions.  But that idea is for another day.  For today, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to end my time along the Canal du Midi with such a perfect day and wonderful experience.

©2013 Experience France by Bike.  All rights reserved.

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.