Home > Canal du Midi: From Montpellier to Carcassonne
Linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, the Canal du Midi is one of mankind’s exceptional achievements… so exceptional that it’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ideal for navigating by barge, this 260 km-long canal is also perfect for cycling! The towpaths along the canal, along with quiet roads, make it easy for cyclists to discover some of the remarkable sites in the region: the harbor of Sète, the medieval walled city of Carcassonne (another UNESCO World Heritage Site), the town of Agde and its fortified Romanesque cathedral, and the 2,000-year-old Roman bridge in Béziers… to name a few.
Each day’s ride is intentionally short so you can tour at your own pace without feeling rushed or regimented. With manageable terrain, you’ll arrive at each destination feeling relaxed and eager to explore — although the journey itself is magical in its own right.
For travel and cycling tips to Languedoc, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Whether you fly in from London, Paris, or even Brussels, or travel by train, Montpellier is very easy to access. Upon arrival, there is plenty to explore in France’s 8th largest city, a true Mediterranean gem. Check out the impressive Arc-de-Triomphe, stroll the car-free historic center, or get lost in the famous Musée Fabre.
This morning you will meet our local representative, receive your bikes, and ask any questions you may have before you take off. Riding along the Lez River you will head straight to the coast towards Palavas. Take a break in the fishermen’s village or keep moving along the Rhone-Sète-Canal towards the stunning village of Frontignan. With the Gardiole mountain range and the Étang de Thau as its surroundings, Frontignan is another worthy photo stop. Your day will come to an end in Sète, known as the “Venice of Languedoc”.
Your itinerary will take you on a beachfront road all the way to Cap d’Agde. Agde is so singular and different from its neighbours — its site on a geological fault gave builders direct access to the black volcanic rock from which the town is built! While there, be sure not to miss the old quarter and its cathedral. You'll then cycle along the Canal du Midi until you reach Béziers, where you’ll overnight. With more than 6,500 years of history, Béziers is one of the oldest towns on the Mediterranean ring and offers many sites of interest, including its 15th century cathedral dedicated to Saint-Nazaire.
Your ride will take you over the River Orb. Further on, the Oppidum of Enserune is a testimony to the importance of this region as a crossroad — as shown by the number of pre-roman artefacts from all corners of the Mediterranean ring that have been found there. Further on, Capestang and its imposing Gothic church is worth a stop. Don’t think you have to ‘see it all’, though, — it’s up to you which attractions to explore or pass. Cycling through vineyards, you will soon reach Narbonne.
Save a little time to explore Narbonne before hopping on your bike, if you didn’t the previous day. This town was place of importance on the route to Spain since Roman times. You’ll encounter its medieval cathedral and Archbishops’ Palace (Palais des Archeveques) before riding out of town. The first part of your trip will include some cycling along the Canal de la Robine, then it’s on to the Canal du Midi. Follow the quiet roads all the way to the small village of Homps where you’ll overnight.
Your destination is the enchanting medieval city of Carcassonne. Two walls encircle the city — Europe’s largest fortress, in fact — which, not surprisingly, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for years. Before arriving, you’ll ride along the canal through picturesque villages that offer many lunch options. You may choose to spend a three-hour lunch at an outdoor café or rush to arrive early to Carcassonne.
After breakfast, depart Carcassonne at the time of your choice. If your schedule allows, you may wish to add an extension to Toulouse.
6 nights' accommodation in 3-, and 4-star hotels and authentic guesthouses
NB: Starting on another day is possible for an additional charge of 60 euros per person for 3 riders, 90 euros per person for 2 riders and at no additional charge for groups of 4 or more.
A longer version of this tour is available from Montpellier to Toulouse (price is on request).