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The Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo

This enchanting new cycle route, linking Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches, is marked by the warm atmosphere of the southern half of France known as the Midi. You cycle along beside the Canal de Garonne and the Canal du Midi, the latter a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a thousand and one cultural and gastronomic stops to entice you along the way. Relish the Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo!

700km of cycle route linking Atlantic to Mediterranean

the map of cycle route linking atlantic to mediterranean : canal du midi and garonne

From Royan to Bordeaux by bike via the Gironde Estuary

 

Talmont saint hilaire and the square fishing nets left suspended in the air

Guarded by the mighty historic Cordouan lighthouse, the largest estuary in Europe signals the Atlantic starting point for the Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo cycle route. Cycling alongside the Gironde Estuary, an exceptional light illuminates the natural zones dotted with wild islands, the waterside ports and forts, the Roman sites and medieval churches, and the world-famous vineyards here.

 

From Royan, in the département (French county) of Charente-Maritime, a portion of the cycle route entitled Rives de Gironde (Gironde Banks) is being completed at time of writing, allowing you to follow the north side of the estuary via Blaye to Bordeaux. For the time being, some stretches lasting a few kilometres take you on small, rough, very steep tracks. Look carefully at the Details section on our website pages covering the stages involved.

 

For families and inexperienced cyclists, the better option, for the moment, may be to cross the Gironde Estuary by small ferry from Royan, then follow the Velodyssey cycle route south to Lacanau, from where a provisional link east through the pine forests leads to Bordeaux along a flat cycle path.

 

From Bordeaux to Toulouse via the Canal de Garonne à Vélo

couple by bike along the agen canal bridge

Formerly part of Gascony, the lands you cross here became wealthy from woad-growing in centuries past. The woad balls being called cogagnes, the area became known as the terres de cocagne. Today, vineyards and orchards dominate the landscapes. Around the Garonne, the beautifully lit, hilly countryside is reminiscent of Tuscany and there are many unspoilt villages, towns and bastides (medieval fortified towns) to visit. Gastronomy and conviviality are also easy to find.

 

The Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo cycle route is almost entirely along a greenway along this portion, going from the magnificent quays of Bordeaux to the lively squares of Toulouse. Between the two, you follow the old towpath beside the languorous Canal de Garonne, the way now cleverly converted into a discovery trail shared with pleasure craft on the water. 

  

This is a very easy stretch accessible to all. Stir yourselves though to organise outings to the pink-brick towns and villages close to the canal. Also seek out picturesque traditional dovecotes, washhouses and lakes, as well as the canal-side ports dotted along the cycle route.


Discover the Canal de Garonne à Vélo between:

From Toulouse to the Mediterranean via the Canal du Midi à Vélo

Friends are cycling along the Béziers canal bridge

Here we come to the most famous section of the route. At Toulouse, the Canal du Midi takes over from the Canal de Garonne. Heading southeast from the great city, at Port-Lauragais, at the watershed between the waters flowing to the Atlantic and those flowing to the Mediterranean, the canal starts in earnest on its great journey towards la Grande Bleue (or Great Blue One, as the French have nicknamed the Med).

 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Canal du Midi, a masterpiece of French civil engineering, was the brainchild of 17th-century genius Pierre-Paul Riquet. As aesthetically pleasing as it is brilliantly engineered, it is supplied with water from numerous canalized streams coming down from the surrounding mountains. The Canal du Midi forms the central feature of the scenic landscapes of the Lauragais and Audois areas you cross.   

  

Don’t be surprised that this invaluable heritage is so lovingly protected that the cycle route’s facilities are restricted in parts. The cycle track, although it is unbroken, is still being developed at time of writing, so it is not yet signposted and sections are rough and uncomfortable to cycle along, a fact which is compensated for by the interest of the landscapes you encounter. Consult carefully the Details section under the relevant stage descriptions on our website.

 

Explore the Canal du Midi à Vélo between: