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.
WHY THIS TRIP?
- Quiet roads that crisscross farmers’ fields and wildflower-rich grasslands.
- Auvillar; one of the prettiest towns in rural France.
- Verdun-sur-Garonne with its 14th century tower.
- Fantastic medieval castle-town of Carcassonne.Verdun-sur-Garonne with its 14th century tower
The easiest routes we offer, these are generally flat and cover relatively relaxed distances. You will be comfortable riding a hybrid bike, walking in sneakers, or paddling a light kayak, and will normally have time to take many photos and enjoy extended lunches.
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 paved canal paths with some rough sections and country roads. Vehicle support is available at irregular access points. Some inns are located away from the canal and require riding on roads.
- DAY 1: Introductions, ~69 km
- DAY 2: ~53 km
- DAY 3: ~50 km
- DAY 4: ~50 km
- DAY 5: ~50 km
- DAY 6: ~65 km
- DAY 7: ~50 km
- DAY 8: Farewells
(Click image to enlarge)
Start: Bordeaux, near Place de la Bourse, 09:00, day one.
Finish: Carcassonne, 09:00, day eight.
Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
Bordeaux to Les Esseintes ~69km
Meet in Bordeaux for your introductory briefing and bike fitting. Today’s ride includes one gradual climb of about 100 meters/300 feet, but is otherwise along gently rolling terrain. Tonight, you will rest well in an old farmhouse that has been converted into a comfortable inn near the fortified town of La Reole. LD (Meal inclusions are shown for guided trips. Please note that self-guided trips include breakfast only).
Les Esseintes to Saint Léger ~53km
Cross to the southern bank of the Garonne river in La Réole. You will have the chance to visit the 11th century Chapel Tersac in Meilhan today, then descend to the Garonne’s lateral canal – your first of the trip. The canal path riding under the Plane trees is simply lovely. As you will it, leave the canal to visit the villages perched above, like le Mas d’Agenais; a picturesque little town with a lovely old wooden market hall. Finish in Saint Léger where your charming chateau awaits. BLD
Chateau de Grenier, Saint Léger
Saint Léger to Agen ~50km
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 Pelissery Chambres d’Hôtes, Lamontjoie
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
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.’The ‘rose-coloured city’ of Toulouse is yours to explore this evening. There are many superb options for dinner tonight! B
Hotel Albert 1er, Toulouse
Toulouse to Castelnaudary ~65km
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
Castelnaudary to Carcassonne ~50km
Your destination is the fortified city of Carcassonne – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arrive in Carcassonne in the 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
Tribe Carcassonne, 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
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
Guided: C 4495 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, 5 light picnic lunches, 4 dinners, van and guide support (2 guides on groups of 6 or more), route instructions, maps, guided walking tour of Carcassonne, luggage handling, taxes
Self-Guided: C 3995 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, route instructions, maps, daily luggage transfers, on call support, taxes
Single Occupancy: 895
Aluminum Racing: na
Carbon Racing: 455
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
2022 Guided dates:
- Jun 12-19
- Sep 3-10
- Oct 9-16
2023 Guided dates:
- May 6-13
- Jun 11-18
- Sep 2-9
- Oct 8-15
Self-Guided available any dates, except for those listed above. New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.
Interested in custom or private departures?
Please see above for accurate pricing and inclusions, unless we have proposed a customized trip for you and those details are provided in your custom proposal.
1. Choose an advertised date to join a small group, or see our Join a Group page to see where groups are already forming.
2. Pick your own dates. We will confirm quickly, and are happy to talk with you as you make your choice. If you would like a private guided date, price remains the same as advertised if you have at least six. If you prefer self-guided, we usually only require two participants to initiate a new date at the advertised price, and can sometimes reduce prices for you if you have four or more.
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.