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The Canal de la Garonne may well be the little brother of the famous « Canal du Midi », but it is no less impressive! Mostly off-road, the route makes the most of a great network of cycle paths and green lanes, where the waters of the canal set the pace of the riding. A great opportunity to taste the pleasures of riding under your own steam from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea! No noise, no cars, no stress… just a gentle progression from lock to lock. We discover the incredible expertise and know-how deployed in order to create this gigantic hydraulic machine that spans from coast to coast. Our bikes offer us the freedom to take a few detours along the way in order to visit the Abbaye de la Sauve-Majeure (a UNESCO heritage site), follow the medieval ramparts of Pommier and admire the half-timber houses of Damazan… But also to visit the historical town centres of Agen, Marmande, Moissac and Montauban.
A great route from Bordeaux to Toulouse which is sure to win you over with its charming mix of town and countryside!
Itinerary start: The tour begins on day 1 at 10am at the SNCF railway station in Bordeaux. On request we can book the previous night's accommodation for you in Bordeaux.
With your tyres pumped up, saddle adjusted, and road book in hand, you're ready to set off on this great canal-side trip. The tour begins with a discovery of Bordeaux city centre, the Saint Michel basilica and the Port de la Lune, a Unesco World Heritage site. Did you know that Bordeaux is the French city with the highest number of listed buildings after Paris? Well worth a visit before heading off along the majestic waters of the Garonne river. You pick up the Roger Lapébie cycle track which you follow for the first two days as it makes its way through the Bordeaux countryside before joining the Canal Latéral de la Garonne. A few detours along the way offer the opportunity to discover the sumptuous Abbaye de La Sauve and the dolmens of Peyrelevade. A few more pedal strokes lead you to your accommodation in Courpiac.
Distance covered: approx. 45 km; altitude gain: approx. 300 m
Option 1 (discovery of Bordeaux): + 10 km
Option 2 (Dolmens): + 5 km
The day begins by following the Roger Lapébie cycle track. Along the way there's an opportunity to stop and admire the Loubens mill. This remarkable building is right next to the cycle track, and offers the perfect opportunity for a well-deserved break. The second stop we suggest is at the 12th century Château Lavison. The chateau's owners are viticulturists, producing Bordeaux wine of course! You then reach the small town of La Réole, from where you join the banks of the Canal Latéral de la Garonne, which will lead you all the way to Toulouse. If the weather is warm enough there's an opportunity for a welcome dip in the lake at Fontet!
Distance covered: approx. 50 km; altitude gain: approx. 300 m
Option 1 (Castrum de Pommier): + 10 km
Today's route is entirely along the Canal Latéral de la Garonne. The kilometres pass with relative ease, helped by the succession of beautiful landscapes along the way. The plane trees along the canal offer a welcome shade from the sun and the opportunity to stop and admire the boats as they make their way through the locks. A great opportunity for a chat with the boat crews! Don't miss the Saint Vincent church at the Mas d'Agenais: there's a Rembrandt on display there! For those with the energy, an extra loop offers the chance to walk in Henry IV's footsteps and admire a mill and château that once belonged to him. Both buildings are superbly well preserved. The route takes you on to your overnight stop in Agen. The town centre is particularly charming and is well worth taking the time for an extended visit.
Distance covered: approx. 65 km; altitude gain: negligible
Option 1 (Henry IV): approx. 25 km; altitude gain: approx. 300 m
Agen is famous for its dried prunes, and the town offers plenty of opportunities to stock up before heading off on the day's route. They're delicious, and great cycling food to boot! You gradually leave the urban landscape of Agen behind you, until the canal joins the Garonne River for a short time. After having admired Agen's “pont-canal” (aqueduct) the previous day, the sight of the two waterways is a reminder of the aqueduct's utility, and veritable economic tool for the area, as Louis XIV intended. Two additional loops are on offer today: the first takes a detour via several high points, offering views of the surrounding countryside, whilst the second offers the chance to discover the beautiful village of Auvillar, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The day's route finishes in Moissac whose Romanesque abbey is well worth a visit.
Distance covered: approx. 45 km; altitude gain: negligible
Option 1 (Auvillar): + 10 km
Option 2 (surrounding countryside): + 15 km
You begin the day by crossing the Tarn river by way of the superb Cacor canal bridge. A fair amount of the tour is now behind you as you enter the department of the Tarn et Garonne. The French accents have changed and the ocean seems a million miles away! You follow the canal to Castelsarrasin, starting point of a loop on quiet back roads that leads to the Abbaye de Belleperche and its tableware museum. A little further on, take the time to admire the Montech water slope in operation, an innovative and unique installation that replaces the equivalent of 5 locks! We then invite you to ride an out and back route along the banks of the Montech canal in order to discover the town of Montauban, that holds the French "art et histoire" certification. The day's route finishes by joining Grenade, your overnight stop.
Distance covered: approx. 50 km; altitude gain: negligible
Option 1 (Abbaye de Belleperche and museum): + 10 km
Option 2 (Montech canal): + 30 km
Before beginning this last stage of the tour there's an opportunity of riding a loop in order to discover the remarkable gardens of Larra and the labyrinth of the Château de Mélville (largest boxwood labyrinth in Europe). Once back at the Canal Latéral de la Garonne, your route takes you past several locks and the landscape becomes progressively more urban as you approach Toulouse, the "pink city". Take the time to visit the many sights of this wonderful city: from the Saint Sernin basilica to the Jacobin convent and many others, the city is home to an impressive quantity of fine architectural and heritage sites. It is possible to return to Bordeaux by train.
Distance covered: approx. 40 km (including 10 km visit of Toulouse); altitude gain: negligible
Option 1 (Château de Larra and Mélville labyrinth): + 25 km
Option 2 (Mélville labyrinth, out and back): + 15 km
Itinerary end: The trip ends at Toulouse SNCF railway station at around 3-4pm. On request we can book the following nights accommodation for you in Toulouse.
Return to Bordeaux: A regular train service operates between Toulouse and Bordeaux. The journey time is approximately 2h30 and most trains accept bicycles. Please check and book with the SNCF before departure.
Distances and altitude gain are an indication only and may vary.
Average tour rating: