Bordeaux to Carcassonne Canal Bike Tour
Seven nights; seven days of easy bicycling holiday on traffic free canal pathways and quiet roads linking Bordeaux, Saint Emilion and Carcassonne.
“The Freewheeling company, and the tour guides did an excellent job. I was VERY pleased with the experience and will gladly recommend this tour company to my friends.” - Sue S.
Start: Saint-Emilion, Hostellerie de Plaisance (across from the tourist information center), 10:00, day one. Transfers from Bordeaux are available, departing by 09:00 on day one. Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
Finish: Carcassonne, 09:00, day eight.
Saint-Emillion to Noaillac ~56km
09:00 transfer from Bordeaux, or meet at 10:00 in the town of Saint-Emilion. With an exceptionally beautiful landscape of vineyards and its rich history of wine production, Saint-Emilion is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We encourage you to plan some extra time in the area before your Freewheeling trip begins, to enjoy the pastoral beauty of the region, as well as some of the best wine in the world. After an introductory briefing and a quick snack, you’ll be on your way, cycling amidst lush vineyards toward the banks of the Garonne River. Today’s ride includes one gradual climb of about 100 meters/300 feet, but is otherwise along gently rolling terrain until you reach the flatness of the canal paths. On guided trips, vehicle assistance is frequently available. You will cross the Garonne at the fortified village of La Réole, and cycle to Noaillac along a winding road nestled amongst tall trees and farmland. Tonight, you will rest well in an old farmhouse that has been converted into a comfortable inn. LD (Meal inclusions are shown for guided trips. Please note that self-guided trips include breakfast only).
La Tuilerie, Noaillac
Noaillac to Saint Léger 31-53km
You will have the chance to visit the 11th century Chapel Tersac in Meilhan today. Ride through le Mas d'Agenais; a picturesque little town with a lovely old wooden market hall. This Roman founded town is famous for its authenticated Rembrandt altar piece hanging on a wall in the church of St. Vincent "Le Christ en Croix." Finish in Saint Léger where your charming chateau awaits. BLD
Chateau de Grenier, Saint Léger
Saint Léger to Agen 50-68km
Cycle or transfer back to the canal this morning. On your ride today, you will pass through Vianne, the only Bastide to be named after a woman. Today, Vianne is a world-renowned glass-making centre, where specialist craftsmen, artists and designers blow and decorate opal, crystal and coloured glass objects. Continue through Serignac and take a moment to stop and see the fine altar and gilt-wood altarpiece of the 11th century church. BD
Chateau de Lassalle, Laplume; or
Chateau des Jacobins, Agen
Agen to Escatalens ~50km
The ride from Agen provides many rewarding sights. In nearby Donzac you may wish to sample the ‘black wines’ of Cotes d’Brulhois, so named for their deep colour and body. Another quick diversion takes you to Auvillar; one of the prettiest towns in rural France with great photo opportunities at the circular stone market. In Moissac you will find great shopping on Rue Jean Moura where local artisans are happy to show off their porcelain, lace, and paintings. Be sure to visit la Bambouseraie at Chateau de Leriet; a bamboo grove in Castelsarrasin dedicated to the Zen philosophy. BL
Le Moulin de Moissac, Moissac
Escatalens to Toulouse ~50km
Today’s ride near the canals takes you to the picturesque walled town of Verdun-sur-Garonne with its 14th century tower. Enjoy your lunch at any of the cafes along the waterway as you amble towards tonight’s destination. Those interested in wines of the Midi-Pyrenees will be interested to visit the Fronton vineyards which are famed for their use of the exclusive grape variety ‘Negrette.' In Toulouse, you can visit the Musée des Augustins or check out the Roman Amphitheatre. There are many superb options for dinner tonight! B
Hotel Albert 1er, Toulouse
Toulouse to Castelnaudary ~70km
Leave Toulouse along the Canal du Midi and ride through Lauragais - home to the production of Pastel blue; a unique dye obtained by pressing flowers. Continue along the banks of the canal to a gorgeous park in Montferrand on the Naurouze Sill – a watershed on the highest point of the Canal, from where water flows in both to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Also nearby is the 1372 Fortress of Anjou a fortified village lined with beautiful 15th century houses around its 14th century church. Finish near the charming village of Castelnaudary, whose legendary recipe for Cassoulet can be tasted as part of a hearty dinner. BLD
Hotel du Canal, Castelnaudary
Castelnaudary to Carcassonne ~45km
Following breakfast, you may want to explore the port of Castelnaudary before embarking on the final leg of your journey. Your destination is the fortified city of Carcassonne - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will cycle along the meandering paths of the Canal du Midi, passing through several pretty villages. Arrive in Carcassonne in the early afternoon; guided trips will include a 90 minute walking tour of the old city. Once you are checked in and settled your guides will bid you farewell and you’ll have the evening to explore the lower town and the cobbled streets of the ancient walled town independently. BL
Les Trois Couronnes, Carcassonne
Your Freewheeling Adventure concludes after a relaxed breakfast included at your inn; Les Trois Couronnes is about 1km or 15 minutes walk from Gare de Carcassonne. B
Note about the route:
A great ride for all ages and abilities. Less than 70km per day on easy grades along and near the canal. The route is mainly on unpaved, hard packed gravel paths where road bikes are not appropriate. Vehicle support is available at irregular access points. Some inns are located away from the canal and require riding on roads.
Get intimate with rural France as you trace the Canal des Deux Mers – an ancient thoroughfare linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. In the Middle Ages, when transport over land was slow and dangerous, canals were constructed to ship wares all over Europe quickly and more effectively. Goods were placed on barges in the narrow waterways and then bow-hauled to their destinations by gangs of men on shore. Although this method of transport is long gone, the remnants of these well traveled routes provide a thought-provoking counterpoint to modern life, especially when following the canal paths at a bicycle’s pace. The canals are dotted with locks, each one a tiny hub of activity for the cozy hamlets and rural communities surrounding them, and the well worn trails beside the canals are perfect for contemplative cycling.
Between Saint-Emilion and the fantastic medieval castle-town of Carcassonne the route is lined with vineyards and graceful plane trees and is still considered one of the masterpieces of Louis XIV’s reign. On the way to Toulouse, you follow the Canal de Garonne - a secluded waterway reaching well into the heart of rural France and boasting hundreds of structures including locks, bridges, dams, and a tunnel. Riding this route through appealing walled towns of the Midi-Pyrenees, each nestled among farms and vineyards, you will follow paths well suited to cycling. This bicycle tour will transport you away from the bustle of traffic, enjoying level terrain, lush and charming scenery, and peaceful gardens. We invite you to come and linger by the water’s edge.
Maps & Elevations
Saint-Emilion, Hostellerie de Plaisance (across from the tourist information center), 10:00, day one. Transfers from Bordeaux are available, departing by 09:00 on day one. Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
Carcassonne, 09:00, day eight.
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
Custom or Private Tours
Want to go but on different dates?
Want to make a change to the itinerary?
We can adapt for you!
Here are some terms:
Bring your friends. We will run most of these trips for you whenever you want, at the advertised price for a group of four or more on a guided trip, or two if it's self-guided! We reserve the right to make changes if the original inns, etc. are already booked.
If you cannot find others, let us advertise the trip for you! Give us a commitment as far in advance as you can. As long as we have the minimum number of guests at the start, the price will be as advertised. The catch is that if it is just two of you and you want a guided trip, you must be willing to pay a 20% premium in the event that others do not join you. The bright side is that, once reserved, you can count on the trip, whether it remains private or becomes a larger group.
Ask for changes to the itinerary.
We are very flexible, and given enough time, can create a new itinerary to match your desires.