One of the best ways to explore southern France is on the Canal des Deux Mers, which not only links two seas, Atlantic and the Med, but also two canals: Canal du Midi and Canal de la Garonne. The canals meet in Toulouse, the capital of the southern Occitanie region. So, as well as cycling from Bordeaux to Sète over 12 days, there’s another fine city thrown into this journey through waterfront wanderlust. Other highlights include the medieval city of Carcassonne, Sète’s maze of canals and Moissac’s UNESCO cloister. As well as an array of charming guesthouses en route. E-bikes also available.
- A largely traffic-free itinerary, mostly on green lanes and cycle tracks, with very few hills along the route
- Chateau de Cadillac
- Carcassonne château and ramparts
- The Mediterranean town of Sète
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Day 1: Arrival in Bordeaux
Travel by train, plane or car to Bordeaux, as it’s well-connected by public transport. Settle in at your comfortable centrally-located hotel, then venture out to explore this elegant city, famous not only for its architecture and beaux arts, but also its food and wine.
- Accommodation: Hôtel de Normandie or similar in Bordeaux
Day 2: Bordeaux to Cadillac | 47km
Today’s route takes you out of town quickly and easily via a cycling path on the right bank of the River Garonne. Head north at Latresne and follow a converted railway. Head south at Grande-Sauve Abbey in La Sauve onto quiet tarmac lanes to reach the town of Cadillac and your hotel, located below the impressive 18th-century Château de Cadillac.
- Cycling for the day: 47km ↑367m ↓362m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Château de la Tour or similar in Cadillac
Day 3: Cadillac to Meilhan-sur-Garonne/Marcellus | 45km
Today’s route takes you along winding inland lanes to avoid the busy road between Cadillac and Saint-Macair. You will have a few ascents, but a rewarding landscape awaits, with impressive estates, vineyards and tradtional villages. After a visit to the Bastide de Saint-Macair, cross the Garonne to the beginning of the Canal des Deux Mers trail. Accommodation tonight is at a charming guesthouse in Meilahn-sur-Garonne, or a bit further inland (8km) in Marcellus.
- Cycling for the day: 45km ↑794m ↓748m
- Accommodation: B&B Font d’Uzas or similar in Meilahn-sur-Garonne or Marcellus
Day 4: Meilahn-sur-Garonne to Agen | 70km
Today’s route is along the Canal de la Garonne, cycling on the flat from Meilhan-sur-Garonne all the way to Agen. Enjoy the shade of ancient plane trees and take time to make small detours along the way. The ancient village square in Damazan is perfect for a coffee break. Another recommended stop is in Tonneis, worth the 10km detour for its lovely square on the banks of the Garonne and a wide choice of restaurants, cafes and shops.
- Cycling for the day: 70km ↑385m ↓387m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Le Relais des Îles or similar in Agen
Day 5: Agen to Moissac | 47km
Today’s route continues along the canal, tucked in between the railway and a busy road until you reach Valence d’Agen, another handsome ancient town. The last section is another peaceful one, all the way to the historic town of Moissac, famous for its 11th-century Saint-Pierre Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Cycling for the day: 47km ↑277m ↓258m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Chapon Fin or similar in Moissac
Day 6: Moissac to Toulouse | 70km
Cross the River Tarn via Pont-Canal du Cacor, and cycle to Castelsarrasin with its small port and 13th-century abbey. Continue along a quiet track to the centre of Toulouse, with the route becoming busier close to the famous city. Highlights on today’s route include the five canal locks at Montech and Ponts-Jumeaux, where the two canals meet with the River Garonne. After Grisoles, you come to Castelnau-d’Estrétefonds, with a castle and gardens that are definitely worth a visit. At this point, you have an option to complete the last 25km by train, giving you more time to enjoy Toulouse, with an array of cultural highlights including Basilique Saint-Sernin and Couvent des Jacobins.
- Cycling for the day: 70km ↑271m ↓189m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Albert Premier or similar in Toulouse
Day 7: Toulouse to Castelnaudary | 64.5km
Cycle out of Toulouse via Pont Pierre-Paul Riquet, named after the architect of the Canal du Midi, and continue along his creation into the Lauragais region, famous for its tradition of pastel plants and artisan craft. Take a break in the medieval town of Avignonet, with plenty of ruins and history to explore. At the foot of Montagne Noire, you come to the highest point in the canal. Cycle on to Castelnaudary for your overnight stay.
- Cycling for the day: 64.5km ↑467m ↓433m
- Accommodation: Hôtel le Clos Fleuri or similar in Castelnaudary
Day 8: Castelnaudary to Carcassonne | 43km
Surrounded by Montagne Noire in the east and the Pyrenees in the southwest, continue along the thousand-year-old towpath to Bram river harbour, passing ancient villages and waterworks such as at Béteil and Lalande locks, brilliant examples of Pierre-Paul Riquet’s work. We also recommend stops at Cugarel mill, Villepinte dam and Rebenty aqueduct. Finally, you come to the handsome town of Carcassonne.
- Cycling for the day: 43km ↑258m ↓294m
- Accommodation: Hôtel du Pont Vieux or similar in Carcassonne
Day 9: Carcassonne to Homps/Olonzac | 42.5km
After Carcassonne, head back along the Canal du Midi, passing Pont-canal de l’Orbiel, the overflow of canal water at Argendouble and the 12th-century church in Port de Trèbes. If you have time, stop in the Gallic village near Marseillette and take a walk to Capendu, famous for its Roman chapel. Cycle on past vineyard landscapes to Homps or Olonzac, depending on accommodation availability.
- Cycling for the day: 42.5km ↑247m ↓336m
- Accommodation: La Maison des Palmiers or similar in Homps or Olonzac
Day 10: Homps/Olonzac to Béziers | 63km
After Argens lock, follow the winding path along the hillside to Le Somail. Take a break here at the old library. Continue along the Canal de la Robine to Capestang, its church visible from afar. Continue onto the ancient hilltown of Oppidum d’Ensérune, with additional highlights at Malpas tunnel and the nine locks at Foncérannes. Finish the day in Béziers, birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet.
- Cycling for the day: 63km ↑508m ↓494m
- Accommodation: Hôtel des Poètes or similar in Béziers
Day 11: Béziers to Sète | 50.5km
Although the sea isn’t visible yet, you can smell it. The landscape gets flatter and forms a mosaic of dunes, wetlands and wide lagoons. Look out for egrets in their natural habitat, strutting between grazing horses and cattle. Other highlights include Pont Bache du Libron, Agde, Thau lagoon and Onglous lighthouse where the canal ends. Your last stop is along the beach in Sète, a stunning town famous for its pastel houses and network of canals. It also boasts some great fish restaurants and markets.
- Cycling for the day: 50.5km ↑302m ↓364m
- Accommodation: Hôtel l’Orque Bleue or similar in Sète
Day 12: Departure
Departure after breakfast.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of charming 2-star and 3-star small hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms. Some accommodations have a swimming pool.
Click to view default hotels
Hotels are subject to availability. In the event of a particular hotel being fully booked for your chosen dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included each morning and dinner is included on day 3. When no restaurant location is available en route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or you can pre-order a packed lunch at your hotel. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or restaurants in the village near your hotel.
Difficulty and terrain
This holiday is appropriate for moderately experienced cyclists and requires a basic level of fitness. The daily distances vary between 42.5km and 70km, with a minimum altitude gain. The route goes mostly on designated cycling roads along the Garonne canal and the Canal du Midi, with some hilly areas, so you will not be disturbed by any car traffic (read more about difficulty grades). Please, note that in the last few years, the quality of some of the paths in the more southern area has been sub-optimal. Some of the used towing paths along the canal are dirt paths and these are not always very even and sometimes slippery after/during rain. You may encounter some difficulties on the track between Toulouse and the Mediterranean, which will require some cycling skills, but nothing too challenging. The routes are easy to follow, and we provide detailed route notes and GPS tracks, which you can load on any device or application. The route notes that accompany each itinerary give a detailed account of your route to give you continual points of reference, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from the beginning of April until the end of October.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date within the season.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
- Arrival in Bordeaux
- Flying to Bordeaux airport: From Bordeaux airport or train station (Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean), there are direct bus services to Place de Quinconces in the city centre, very close to your hotel.
- Flying to Toulouse airport: You can connect to Bordeaux by train (several direct services a day).
- Flying to Paris: You can take the TGV (high-speed train) to Bordeaux, ~2h 15mins). For timetables and further information, look at the website of the SNCF.
- This holiday is reachable by rail, with train stations in both Bordeaux and Sète. See SNCF-Connect for more details.
- Departure from Sète: There are direct trains back to Toulouse or Beziers.
- Train connections from the UK: Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord). Please check SNCF-Connect for more details on schedules and prices. The total journey time from London to Bordeaux is about 5.5h.
- 11 nights in private rooms with en-suite facilities
- 11 breakfasts
- Dinner on day 3
- Luggage transport on cycling days (one piece per person up to 20kg)
- Digital tour materials including: roadbook, maps, a navigation app for smartphones, and GPS tracks (Please note, that the information pack for this tour is digital only and will be emailed to you prior to departure. Physical documents can be provided on-site at an additional fee)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, nine dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Additional travel-related changes in the programme due to bad weather
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- All personal expenses
- Bike rental
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a room of their own
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights before the tour, along the way and at the end of the tour can be booked on request
- Bike rental: hybrid bikes and e-bikes; extra days bike rental
- Printed tour materials at first accommodation
- Option to upgrade accommodations (solo traveller supplement for upgrades available on request)
Hybrid Bike Rental: BATAVUS Zonar, 27 Speed. The bikes come with pannier, handlebar bag, spare tube, tools, pump, helmet and lock
E-bike rental: SPARTA. The bikes come with pannier, spare tube, tools, pump, helmet and lock
Sample pictures below; note that the exact models might be different depending on the availability, but the standard will be the same.