Would I Recommend Bicycling The Canal Du Midi? Part I

Yes. No. Maybe. Only under the following circumstances…. How could such a simple question be so complicated?

I’ve tried answering this question for the last 3 weeks since returning from France and I still can’t give you a simple yes or no. To help you understand why I’m conflicted, let’s take a look at some photos from the 240 km route from Toulouse to Sete:

The Canal du Midi between Toulouse and Castelnaudery

The Canal du Midi between Toulouse and Castelnaudery

Canal near Bram, deeply rutted by recent rain

Canal near Bram, deeply rutted by recent rain

First sign of any kind since leaving Toulouse

First sign of any kind since leaving Toulouse

Narrowing of road and tall grass close to Carcassonne

Narrowing of road and tall grass close to Carcassonne

Path virtually disappears just outside of Carcassonne

Path virtually disappears just outside of Carcassonne

Not quite sure who could bicycle on this

Not quite sure who could bicycle on this

Narrow rutted paths with tall grass past Trebes

Narrow rutted paths with tall grass past Trebes

Double deeply rutted paths with gorgeous Canal views

Double deeply rutted paths with gorgeous Canal views

Narrowing deeply rutted paths near Marseilette

Narrowing deeply rutted paths near Marseillette

Canal path near Roubia

Canal path near Roubia

Canal path near Paraza

Canal path near Paraza

Near La Somail–I walked

Near La Somail–I walked

Narrowing and degraded Canal path between Le Somail and Capestang

Narrowing and degraded Canal path between Le Somail and Capestang

My bike and panniers are wider than the Canal path

My bike and panniers are wider than the Canal path

Even narrower still with 4-5' tall grass near Ouveillan

Even narrower still with 4-5′ tall grass near Ouveillan

Where to go when traffic is approaching? Jump in the grass!

Where to go when traffic is approaching? Jump in the grass!

Wider dirt paths past Beziers

Wider dirt paths past Beziers

Barriers at Ecluses du Libron required removing everything from bikes on both ends

Barriers at Ecluses du Libron required removing everything from bikes on both sides

Only to be treated to another patch of narrow, deeply rutted paths.

Only to be treated to another patch of narrow, deeply rutted paths.

Path from Marseillan to Marseillan Plage

Path from Marseillan to Marseillan Plage

New bicycle path from Adge to Sete

New bicycle path from Adge to Sete

With views along the sea

With views along the sea

As you can imagine, while bicycling the Canal du Midi, I kept wondering why none of the cycling books that I had read before the trip had done anything to prepare me for the conditions that I found along the way. Could it be that any of their authors had actually cycled the route? Join me for Part II of my review on bicycling the Canal du Midi. Some of my thoughts may surprise you!

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.