Canal du Midi

Canal Du Midi

Update September 2022 

In September 2022 having cycled the Canal du MIdi we decided to tackle the other component part of the Canal Entre Des Deux Meres, the Garonne Lateral Canal which runs from Castets en Dorthe on the Garonne  to Toulouse, where it links up with the Canal du Midi, thus completing the grandiose plan to connect the Mediterranean with the Atlantic at Bordeaux via the Gironde estuary, which is the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne.


The plan for the Canal du Midi was to cycle along the canal from strategically placed campsites, starting at Toulouse where the canal starts and to Agde where the canal meets the sea  and also to visit Carcassonne, which we last visited 25 years ago.

The route taken was Calais, Rouen, Chartres, Cheverney, Limoges, Toulouse, Carcassonne and finally to Vias.

The return was Vias, Bourges via Clermont Ferrand, Montsoreau nr Saumur, Le Crotoy, Calais.

Pont de L'Arche

I have been looking for ages for a decent site near Rouen and I have uncovered an absolute gem, I must get a picture of the site.

Camping Municipal Pont de l'Arche provides a fine example of a municipal site at its best; a great location on riverbank, at the confluence of the Seine & Eure, excellent value at 11euros and even free wi fi but the longest access code that I have ever seen.

If you want an alternative, there is an aire next door but at this price who can argue.

To  this you can add a delightful town and very pleasant river walks.

The small church in Pont de l'Arche -amazing the size of these churches in these small towns.

A quick overnighter in Cheverney at Les Saules and a 20 mile cycle on the Chateaux a Velo- how unfit we were.


Another superb municipal,Camping d'Uzurat, a short hop off the A20 and with a big supermarket within walking distance, gravel good sized pitches, excellent facilities and only 15euros a night and one of the most friendly receptions you are ever likely to experience. Sadly it appears that this site has closed. (June 2020)

So the answer may be to stay at the aire in Oradour Sur Glane and then take a trip into Limoges, which is well worth a visit.

What is this imposing building above? Believe it or not it is the railway station at Limoges

No visit would be complete to Limoges without a visit to Oradour sur Glane, where the old village has been left intact, exactly as it was after that infamous day, as a memorial to the 642 inhabitants of this village, who were massacred by the German SS on 10th June 1944.

There is ample room to park a motorhome in Oradour,  there is also an aire in the village.

 The women and children were locked in the church, before it was set alight.

Only one woman escaped alive from the church. In total 452 women and children died.

"Here some men offended their mothers and all the women in the worst manner, they did not spare the children"Paul Eluard 1944


We have always wanted to visit "La Ville Rose" or "Pink City", the capital city of Occitan, on the River Garonne, where every building is built of red or pink bricks and of course it is the start of the Canal du Midi, which runs from here to the Mediterranean.

The Canal du Garonne also starts here and  runs into Bordeaux via the River Garonne, so effectively connecting the Atlantic to the Med.

We stayed at Camping Le Rupe, which is about 250 metres to the Canal de Garonne and a half hour cycle into the city where we picked up our guide.

I jest not, as we approached the pool, where the Canal du Midi effectively meets the Canal de Garonne, we asked directions from a lady cyclist and she promptly asked us to follow her and proceeded to show us the main sites of her town, what a star

Do not be put off by the entrance or the fact that the site is adajacent to a large travellers site, security is good and so are the facilities.

Toulouse is one of the most pedestrian & cycle friendly  city's that you are likely to find, a joy to explore the town and the riverfront.

Place du Capitole, the administrative centre of the city, the current facade dates back to 1750 and is the main pedestrian square in the city.


Ok it is touristy, ok there are shops selling tourist tat, ok it has been rebuilt and it is not strictly authentic and it is heaving in the peak period (but no crowds offpeak) but it is still absolutely awe inspiring, like a fairy tale castle and deservedly a UNESCO world heritage site.

You can not fail to be moved by visiting it and then to be able to have a meal within the confines of the cite next to the chateau, is something to behold. The meal has to be cassoulet, a slow cooked casserole containing typically sausage and duck with white haricot beans, served in a traditional earthenware cassole.

Your only decision will be choosing which restaurant, all claiming to serve the most authentic or best.

The Chateau, within the inner walls is the only part of the fortress that you have pay an entry fee for, but it is well worth it and it also allows you to walk the inner walls.

The Cite photographed from the Pont Vieux, over the River Aude, which connects to the lower town, Bastide St Louis

One of the entrances to the Cite

Though the fortress is the main attraction, the walk over the old bridge to the lower town, Bastide St Louis, is extremely pleasant and the lower town is not unattractive.

The Canal du Midi port (below) is located in front of the railway station. 

If you follow the canal to the left, this takes you in the direction of Castelnaudary.

You will need to go on the road parallel to the canal as the canal follows a cutting out of the town.

After about a kilometre, you pick up the canal entrance under a railway bridge. The canal path here is a typical earth path so you will need an ATB or hybrid bike.You then cycle for as long as you like.

In the other direction towards Narbonne, you pick up the towpath in the town.

The towpath here is better, of the gravel variety but ironically 15 miles out, a pebble jumped up and got caught in my rear wheel gear hanger and the result was it became jammed into the wheel.

It was possible to pull it out and return back and luckily it did not break off until we got back to Bastide St Louis.

Fortunately at the port there was a bike hire facility, which gave us the address of a bike repair shop, who though unable to repair the bike, were able to convert it from 24 gears to a fixed gear, which was hardly a problem on canal towpaths.

Ironically it was called Fun Cycles. 

The above photograph was taken as you enter Bastide St Louise from the Narbonne direction.

We stayed at Campsite de la Cite

The site had modern clean sanitary facilities and the pitches were of a good size and many were surrounded by hedges. There was also a dedicated motorhome service point.

The site is within a very pleasant half hour river walk to the fortress which is the main benefit of this site.


Our final stop was at Vias, as it allowed us to dip our toes in the Med, and trace the Canal to the sea and take a trip to Beziers.

Vias is an old town and worth a cycle up to it.

Vias Plage is a typical seaside resort.

We stayed at the campsite Les Salisses. This is a large commercial site with a lot of statics which appeared popular with French families.

It had all the trappings of a large site, swimming pool complexes etc and I would imagine in July & August it would be heaving.

In May it was fine and though there was an absence of a designated  motorhome service point, we were able to improvise.

We also had the benefit that we were the only unit in a section designed for ten, so a feeling of space.

The real advantage was that it was about 500 metres walk to the sea and the same distance to the canal.

Towards Beziers

When you reach the bridge outside of the campsite and turn left, you head in the direction of Beziers and though the first section of the canal path is track you soon reach a port area and thereafter it becomes paved, thus making a visit to Beziers in a day feasible.

Just after the port, which is about 5 miles from the campsite there is an etang and for birdlovers it offered us an aerial display of beeeaters,  whose colours are simply amazing, as they twist and turn in the Mediterranean sun.

They were also very considerate and allowed us to view them whilst they perched on posts.

We had the added benefit of black winged stilts, storks and egrets(cattle & little).

Along many parts of the canal. you get tree lined poplar avenues which offers welcome shade, but there are some concerns regarding this habitat, as they are being attacked by pests which is devastating whole sections. 

Just outside of Beziers there is a small town, called Beziers Villeneuve, which has a very attractive small campsite on the banks of the canal and adjacent to this is an Aire, this has the advantage of making a trip into Beziers easier, if this is the main priority.

If you continue onwards you reach a distinct port area which gives you the option of cycling into Beziers or continuing along the canal to the acqueduct which crosses the river Orb. This was completed in 1856 to allow safer navigation of the river. 

A short 10 minute cycle over the acqueduct and you reach the Neuf Ecluses which  is one of the most spectacualr and visited features on the canal. Apparently there are no longer 9 locks but I must confess I did not count them.

I was just mesmorised by a large cruise barge which filled the whole lock, it did not seem possible that it would fit. This is an ideal spot for either a picnic lunch or at the restaurant. 

The Cathedral of St Nazaire at Beziers - you can also cut off for the town at the locks,it is about 10 minutes by bike 

If you continue past the locks you come to the tunnel at Malpas, which was the first canal tunnel in Europe. you are not allowed to cycle or walk through the tunnels.

Towards Agde & The Sea

 if you turn right when you reach the canal bridge then you head towards the sea and the town of Agde.

The towpath is a mixture of typical earth path and gravel, but is easily cyclable and within an hour you reach the port area of Agde and the locks, which effectively signify the end of the canal, as it meets the River Herault.

If you take the right hand branch of the canal after you cross the main road, this takes you into Agde.

Once you reach Agde, you can cycle down the right hand bank  of the river Herault, for a couple of miles until you reach La Tamaraissiere and the sea. Just to prove it, a picture of yours truly at the sea at La Tamaraiissiere, mind you it could be anywhere. 

A short cycle back to the river estuary and you pick up this dinky little ferry which transports you across the river to Le Grau D'Agde, for the princely sum of 1.5 euros each and the bikes go free.

The town has a good selection of shops and restaurants, which was a good thing as it was getting late and we had nothing for supper.

Once over the other side of the river, you can cycle back into Agde, along designated cycle paths, where there are many riverside restaurants and then pick up the canal again for the return trip to Vias.

The picture below is of the Herault estuary, where it meets the Mediterranean. On the left of the picture is Le Grau-D'Agde and on the right La Tamarissiere.   

On this trip I made the wrong assumption that the canal ends where it meets the River Herault and enters the sea.

It was on another trip to Marseillan Plage and a walk from the site to Marseillan that we came across the Canal du Midi again and its correct terminus,where it enters the lagoon, the Bassin de Thau and then onwards to Sete.

Canal Latéral à la Garonne 

Though the Canal du Midi is not only the oldest canal in France but in Europe as well, being completed in 1694, the Canal Latéral à la Garonne is a mere youngster, not completed until 1856. Ironically this was just before the railway from Bordeaux to Sète, which fundamentally follows the same route as the canal. The first train left Agen, the site of the magnificent canal aqueduct over the Garonne in 1857. So from day one the canal was always going to struggle competing with the faster railway though initially it was an important transport for freight. Nowadays both canals are primarily used for tourism. The Garonne canal also has the benefit of excellent tow paths, which is ideal for our softie bike riding.



The other reason for the trip was to visit Bordeaux, the capital city of the surrounding wine growing area,a major port and industrial and commercial centre. The city had alluded us since the early 1980’s as we had bypassed it countless times.

The route down saw us stop at an old faithful,Camping Sainte Claire in Neufchâtel en Bray with its adjacent voie verte to get us into training. This stop has the added advantage that it is a short hop from Calaia and the site is only a few miles from the A28 and it is incredibly well run. Also there is a LeClerc supermarket a few hundred metres away for stocking up and saves any hassles with what you can now bring in from the UK,following Brexit, not that I have ever been stopped to check, though I have had numerous security checks at Dover. We must look suspicious.Our second stop was at St Avertin on the outskirts of Tours. There was a momentary panic here as the bridge to the site was blocked of by the gendarmes. Following a U turn and a quick word with the gendarme, who offered us an alternative route, we arrived with no problem.  This latter stop also allowed plenty of cycling opportunities along the Cher to Savonnières and Villandry. 



Camping Bel Air was our first stop on our canal journey. It is situated about half an hour walk from Créon on the D671, which is reasonably busy but it is not long before you reach a pavement. The site has had average reviews but for us it was perfectly ok. We had a large corner pitch and the sanitation facilities were fine.


The original plan was to cycle into Bordeaux from Créon along a cycleway which followed an old railway and now forms part of the the Roger Lapébie bike path . This officially starts in Latresne and it runs for 57km from Bordeaux, through Créon and onto Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. From Créon to Latresne the route follows the old railway but at Latresne you have to follow roads down to the river and then along the river to Bordeaux and though Bordeaux is very bike friendly, you will be losing the peace of the railway path. You can access the railway path by following minor roads opposite the campsite but it is a mission and on the way you will have to climb hills. The easiest way is to take the main road and pick up the cycle path at Créon station.  There is a small aire at the station but I was nervous of this as I had the Chausson Maxi Suite at the time and I needed room to lower the bikes from the garage.

Créon Station

Anyway with all best laid plans as they say. Julia was not feeling 100% so a bike ride was out of the question and though it was September it was still hot and though it was not as hot as the excessive summer temperatures of 2022, they were still above average. So we let the bus take the strain. There is a bus 404 that stops just outside the campsite but it is a limited service as it leaves at 8.00 and 12.42. If you walk down to Créon to the Gendarmerie, the other side of town, the bus 407 is more regular. The bus stops in town but on the way back we had to cross the river at the Pont de Pierre and get the bus at the Quai Deschamps.


is a very elegant town and of course it has a superb river frontage. We just picked up the tourist map of the main sites to see in the town and we trudged around, which is what we do on all our city breaks. At the end we had a very enjoyable visit and we were glad that we had ticked this one of our list.

There are numerous restaurants and cafes but as it was such a superb day we decided to get a picque-nique and join the locals on the banks of the Garonne.


Pont de Pierre
Pont de Pierre
Porte Cailhau
Porte Cailhau
Roman Ruins
Roman Ruins
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
Place de la Bourse
Place de la Bourse

On our return we cycled into Créon with the plan to go and see the Grande Sauve Abbey which involved about a 6 mile round trip but Julia was still not up to it, so I made this journey on my own. Sadly it was a Monday so it was closed but nevertheless I enjoyed good views of its exterior.

La Réole

This was our starting point for our cycle along the canal and it started off rather ignominiously, as we were faced with another bridge closure to access our campsite, Camping Municipal de la Réole. We pulled into the aire in the town and recalculated to take the next bridge down and let the sat nav do the rest. When we arrived at the campsite, it was closed and not open until the afternoon but there is an ample area outside, next to the motorhome service point and we did contemplate staying here.

The campsite is fairly basic but in a great location on the banks of the Garonne. We loved it and it is very popular with cyclists. Though the suspension bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, it was possible to walk across to the superb boulangerie. There is also a carrefour contact in the town. The other reason for choosing the campsite it is only a couple of miles to the canal.  

Moissac Swing Bridge
Moissac Swing Bridge
Lock to the Tarn
Lock to the Tarn
Pont Canal de Cacor
Pont Canal de Cacor
Pont Canal de Cacor


This was a completely unplanned stop and was on the recommendation of our French neighbours. It was only 3 miles from the campsite and we took the van and as it was September it was easy to park on the road outside of the village. As we entered the village from the clocktower entrance, it soon became apparently obvious why this was one of the most beautiful villages in France. It sits high above the Garonne and enjoys magnificent views over the river, There are numerous medieval buildings surrounding a superb market hall. We didn’t need to stay long to soak up the atmosphere of this idyllic spot and in September it was relatively empty.



Camping Municipal de Montech

Do not let the title Municipal deceive you as this site was a million miles away from the basic site at Valence. We had a spacious corner pitch, which was well shaded and now an essential requirement, as the temperature had now risen, not to the dizzy heights of the summer but well into the 30’s and definitely not the norm for September. We made the decision to hunker down here for a few days as the site was ideal and there was a supermarket within a short bike ride.

There is an aire attached but with no shade, this did not appeal at all and it was also of the car park variety.


Montech Water Slope/Pente d’Eau de Montech

On our first day we had planned a longer cycle to Castelsarrasin and then to the Tarn at Moissac but we got as far as the Pente d’Eau de Montech, a round trip of 12 miles.

What faces you at Montech is something totally bizarre, as you are faced with what effectively are two locomotives astride a water channel. The oddity is enhanced by the bright colours that are painted on the locomotives. Though it appears odd it is an amazing feat of engineering. Simply what has happened is that a new cut for the canal has been built to bypass the existing 5 locks. You are still, however, faced with the height difference and this is where the water slope comes in. In simple terms the boat enters the concrete channel on the slope and effectively a wedge of water is pushed up, together with the canal boat until it reaches the top. The canal lift was designed to allow bigger boats to use the canal but even more strangely it was inaugurated in 1974, which appears relatively late in canal development, to save 45 minutes going through the locks.

Sadly it is now not operational, so navigation goes back to using the 5 locks but the good news is that there are guided tours and there is a barge, which you can enter and explore together with associated information boards. The guide kindly explained features of the water slope as our French wasn’t good enough to follow the technicalities. Apparently there are plans to reinstate the Pente d'Eau, which will be no mean task.There is also a museum in the old paper mill.


Montech Water Slope
Montech Water Slope
Montech Water Slope
Montech Water Slope
Montech Water Slope
Montech Water Slope
Pente D'Eau de Montech
Pente D'Eau de Montech
Original Canal Lock on the RHS New Canal Cut on the Left
Original Canal Lock on the RHS New Canal Cut on the Left

Montech to Bessens 18 miles

The initial plan was to cycle down and have lunch at the excellent canal side restaurant ‘L’Oguste’, before going to Grisolles. Given our previous lack of luck in finding restaurants on the canal open, we were pleased to see the door open. We met Madame and asked if we could book a table for our return from Grisolles only for her to inform us that the restaurant was closed for congé. Just our luck that she was taking holiday after what hopefully was a busy season for her, She did, however, kindly recommend two alternatives, La Brasserie d’Émilie which was the closest and the L’Olivier de José.


For some reason which has no logical basis we decided against the first one, despite its good reviews and the fact that it was busy and headed towards Bessens. After cycling to the village and with no sign of a restaurant we had to ask directions. What transpired was that the restaurant was on the main D813 road. It is a pretty un inspiring building and I would describe it as an old fashioned but modern Les Routiers, totally unpretentious but incredibly busy.


We arrived at the same time as an Irish couple, who were on a touring holiday but had brought their electric bikes with them. After a brief chat in Irish terms that is, we invited them to join us. Madame beckoned us to a table and with fluent efficiency took our orders and our starters appeared almost immediately, a large and superb caprese. This appeared to be a husband and wife team and despite the restaurant being packed, she moved effortlessly throughout with efficiency and charm. It would be an abject lesson for British waiting staff to learn. It always frustrates me that British waiting staff can not clear a table after taking an order on their way back to the kitchen. Madame had got it down to a fine art. To be fair the way these restaurants work is to have a limited choice, so two of each for every course but the upside it was of excellent quality, all homemade and extremely delicious at a ridiculous set price of 15 euros. So we had an excellent meal and a good craic with our Irish compatriots before we parted company. Madame offered to fill our water bottles as we left. It appears that this restaurant has been recently taken over (September 2022) by new owners and they deserve to be successful.


By now we had abandoned our plans to carry on to Grisolles and headed back to Montech.


Montech to Montauban 21 miles return trip

It was still fairly warm but a 11 mile trip along the branch canal to Montauban [the canal literally runs just outside of the campsite] was not too taxing, particularly as the plan was to have a posh lunch but at extremely reasonable prices at restaurant Le Ventadour. We were, however, to be thwarted again as the restaurant was fully booked with a wedding party.


We crossed the Tarn river, which is pretty impressive and headed into town. The serenity of the river betrays its violent history, as this river has witnessed some extreme flooding. In early March 1930 the river rose 12 metres above its normal levels and the centre of the town was devastated.

The banks of the river were particularly badly affected and the right bank was like a war zone, over a 1,000 houses were destroyed. leaving 10,000 people homeless. The death toll was 25  and could have been a lot worse. A young industrial worker Adolphe Poult personally saved 100 people by picking them up in his canoe but sadly he drowned when his canoe overturned. Moissac where we had just visited suffered a similar fate in the same flooding episode. Upstream from the town where the rivers Tarn and the Aveyron converge, the combined effect of the two swollen rivers overwhelmed the levees and a wall of water descended onto Moissac. Here the death toll was considerably higher at 120 with 1,400 houses destroyed and 6,000 were rendered homeless.

Montauban is well worth a visit and the highlight is undoubtedly the Place Nationale with its large square surrounded by arcades.It is called the pink city, you will see why when you visit. The eateries in the arcades are a bit touristy so we settled on Crumble Tea, which is located in a quiet square off the Rue de La République.


There is an aire in Montauban at the port area, which is of the car park variety.

Lacourt Saint Pierre
Lacourt Saint Pierre
Canal meets the Tarn River
Canal meets the Tarn River
Montauban Port
Montauban Port
Pont Vieux
Pont Vieux
Place Nationale
Place Nationale

Montech to Moissac 31 miles

Via Castelsarrasin

Return to Montech before our trip to Castelsarrasin the next day and then onto our final stop Toulouse, where the Canal de Garonne meets the Canal du Midi

It was now pleasantly warm so a longer ride was in order. On all our motorhome canal trips we do not religiously aim to cover every metre of the canal towpath. Sometimes this is not practical and at other times there may not be a lot to see and at other times we have had enough.

The attraction of this cycle was the port area at Castelsarrasin, which is very pleasant. The port is named after Jacques Yves Cousteau, though to the best of my knowledge he did not have a relationship with the town. What the port does illustrate is the changed economic circumstances of the canal as now it is primarily used for leisure and tourism, no longer for commercial traffic. The main Bordeaux Toulouse railway is ever omnipresent and no more so than here and it does seem somewhat surreal, as it mirrors the canal route and was built at virtually the same time. Perhaps this is where you needed state planning but then we would not have had the leisure facilities of the canal as we do today for cycling and boating.

The town itself is a short ride from the canal and as it was fairly early for lunch, we decided to check out the local boulangerie and get a takeaway lunch, which was of excellent quality. As it was still early we decided to poodle up the canal but not until having coffee at the canal.

We continued up the canal, stopping off for our picnic. The French love their picque-nique’s so as a result there are often delightful places to stop and relax. We continued on until we reached the aqueduct at Moissac, which I don’t think we intended to do. We did cycle up to it to see it from the other side but there was little point in crossing it, as we had already ticked that off from our trip earlier to Moissac.



Castelsarrasin Port
Castelsarrasin Port
Castelsarrasin Port
Castelsarrasin Port
Canal Road & Rail
Canal Road & Rail
Acqueduct over the Tarn Moissac
Acqueduct over the Tarn Moissac

There is an attractive canal side aire in Castelsarrasin.


We could not fault this campsite, the only problem we had was that the motorhome service point is in the aire. The campsite does give you a pass but there were problems with it when exiting. The beauty particularly of aires but also campsites is that fellow travellers are always ready to lend a hand, so a French motorhomer made the relevant telephone calls to enable us to exit.



Our final stop at the end of the Canal Latéral de Garonne where it meets the Canal du Midi and the long journey to the Mediterranean at Sète. The confluence of the two component parts of the Canal des Deux Meres connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and though we have been to Toulouse before, this made me quite emotional.


We stayed at Camping Toulouse Le Rupé, where we stayed when we cycled the Canal du Midi. It is in a great position for cycling into Toulouse as it is a 30 minute ride down the Garonne canal and Toulouse is very cycle friendly.


One point to remember in 2022 is that the campsite may be in the Toulouse low emission zone so you will need to get a CritAir sticker. Failure to display results in heavy fines. They are easy to get but you may need a bit of perseverance uploading documentation, namely your vehicle log book. The sticker is not expensive and arrives promptly.

The campsite gets mixed reviews but I am not quite sure why. It is in a great location for visiting Toulouse. It may be a little unnerving because it is close to a gypsy site but it has security and as with all city sites I would be mindful that you exercise normal security measures. Yes the sanitary blocks are a bit unusual in that they have a central washing up area with the sanitary facilities around it and they are unisex but I have seen this before in France. They were perfectly clean when we went. You get the normal complaints about having to bring your own toilet paper, which again is not uncommon in France and is no real hardship, unless you forget. OK it is not the same standard of a Caravan Club site but then you are not paying Caravan Club prices.


We had a short ride in the direction of Grisolles but still failed to reach the town, though I don’t think we were missing much.On leaving Toulouse the railway follows you all the way up to Grisolles and though Toulouse is a large industrial town, home of AIrbus, it is not long before you experience a semi rural feel, well at least to the left of you. We didn’t go too far up here, before we returned and cycled into Toulouse.

Toulouse or La Ville Rose, the pink city because of its pink brick buildings, is a fairly compact city and easy to get around either on foot or by bike with the added benefit of a river frontage. The Place de Capitol is a magnificent square but my only complaint is the amount of tat that litters it. Sorry but I am old fashioned, it is a beautiful square and needs to be seen in its entirety, not littered with modern paraphernalia. OK we can have a market there once a week and perhaps entertainment in high season but it is not my city . Overall it was a delight to walk around the city again.


Finally it would be an omission not to mention the Canal de Brienne, the smallest in the triumpharate at just under 1.5km long but performing the vital role of initially connecting the Canal du Midi to the Garonne river at the Saint Pierre lock. It was completed in 1776 and in due course not only connected the Canal du Midi to the Garonne but also provided the connection to the Canal de Garonne and all three meet at the Port de l’Embouchere and the completion of the Canal Entre Deux Meres in 1856.



Port de L'Embouchure Canal de Garonne LHS,du Midi  Middle, Brienne RHS
Port de L'Embouchure Canal de Garonne LHS,du Midi Middle, Brienne RHS
Brienne Canal as it meets the Garonne
Brienne Canal as it meets the Garonne
Pont Neuf oldest bridge in Toulouse 1632
Pont Neuf oldest bridge in Toulouse 1632
Basilque Saint Sernin
Basilque Saint Sernin

The suspension bridge to La Réole frpm the campsite

Castets en Dorthe

To the start of the canal 16 miles round trip


This was a nice easy afternoon ride to the lock where the canal enters the Garonne and here the canal is wide and tree lined, though it wasn’t particularly hot. There is an aire on the banks of the canal at Castets and there is a bar/restaurant, where we thought that would be nice for a drink after seeing the start of the canal. Unfortunately when we returned it was closing. We found this quite a lot in September that planned restaurants etc were closed.

On our return the reception was open, I say reception as it was just a small hut but he was incredibly friendly and we booked in for a couple of nights.

The above picture is where the canal meets the Garonne  and it is a fairly hefty drop to the river, hence the massive lock.

The decision with regard to the choice of campsite was dictated by its proximity to the canal and in this case our starting point had the benefit of this small somewhat bizarre cafe but given that we had just started we did not avail ourselves of its facilities and on the way back it was closed.

Despite the width  of the canal these early sections were treelined, which not only gave you the benefit of the shade but also superb reflections.

Fourgues Sur Garonne

34 mile round trip

Our first discovery on the cycle ride was the Base Nautique at Fontet  and attached was a very attractive aire de camping cars, complete with electric hook ups. The restaurant near by provided bread and even take aways and the restaurant looked good. It was just after breakfast for us so we settled for mid morning coffee.


The other point of interest is  Meilhan Sur Garonne. The village is a short ride from the canal. There is also a campsite here, Camping & Base de Plein Air Au Jardin.

This is also one of the few places where the canal kisses  the Garonne river.

The Canal de Garonne is no narrow boat canal vis a vis the English canal system, This canal was built for commercial barges but it virtually immediately had to compete with the railway and in the 1970's the canal became a tourist haven for cyclists and for pleasure craft. Though we came across  cyclists and walkers we saw few pleasure craft in September.

Our final destination was Fourgues Sur Garonne which is a short hop from Marmande from which the famous Marmande tomato originates. I must confess before I started this journey I just thought Marmande was the name of a tomato only and had no clue that it originated in France


At le Pont des Sables there are a number of good restaurants to choose from.


Our stop here was at the Camping du Lac de Damazan and it must be one of the most expensive municipal sites that I have stayed at. On the positive side we arrived after 12.00 and the gates were shut but there was an intercom on the gate. Cutting a long story short the guy said pitch up and pay me later and let us in. Can you imagine that happening in a club site in the UK? The other comparison to be made with club sites was that the sanitary facilities were rather swish and perhaps that explains the pricing. It was a pleasant enough site within woodlands and perhaps that and its proximity to the lake explained why mosquitoes were a problem. The other plus was that this was the nearest location for us to undertake our longest ride to Agen to see the iconic aqueduct over the Garonne and it was getting hotter.


What was also bizarre with this campsite was as you approached the site, there was a cricket pitch with the Union flag flying at half mast, as Queen Elizabeth had died the day before. When we left I met one of he stalwarts of the club, who was in his nineties and still preparing the pitch and his wife did the teas. He said there wasn’t any French players and most were immigrant players.  


On the first day we set off back in the direction of Fourgues Sur Garonne but we only got as far as lock 41. there was a very attractive bar and some fine local beers. We only covered about 6 miles.


On the way back we diverted through the village of Damazan in search of a boulangerie. We found it ok and it should have been open and we even waited awhile but to no avail. I always find it quite perplexing that you walk or ride through these small French towns and you hardly see a soul.


44 mile round trip


This was one of the highlights of the trip, well in truth it was the aqueduct over the Garonne that was the attraction and this was the longest return ride and it was getting hotter. Also the leafy canal way provided by the avenues of trees on the early sections of the canal were becoming more rare.

We stopped at Serignac sur Garonne for coffee to break up the trip, a very pleasant sojourn with the company of the locals, overlooking the church and only a short detour from the canal. Sadly we were too early for lunch as the restaurant looked superb.


The aqueduct at Agen is 560 metres long with 23 arches and is 12.5 metres wide with a waterway of 8-8 metres width. Compare this with the Pontcysyllte aqueduct on the LLangollen canal at 3.7 metres wide, not any the less spectacular but dwarfed by the scale of the Agen aqueduct. What is even more bizarre is that this magnificent edifice nearly became an absolute white elephant when it was suggested that it should be filled in and provided with a rail track. In reality with the railway opening one year later it became a relative white elephant, Now it is still with us to be admired as a colossal feat of engineering.

There is the Café Vélo at the aqueduct, which is a welcome refreshment stop. There is also a 12 bunk dormitory with bike storage also available.


This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip but I do not think the photographs really capture the scale and grandeur of the aqueduct. It has to be seen to really appreciate its majesty and the long cycle in the heat was very much worth it.

We did cycle into town but though it is pleasant enough, it really doesn’t warrant a visit in its own right, though the old town has a number of medieval buildings and the cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century is impressive. The other thing that Agen is famed for is its prunes, which are probably the best available if you like prunes. On our cycle ride there were a number of plum orchards and factories processing the plums.

Our next stop was Valence d'Agen en route to Toulouse which was our final destination.

Valence D’Agen

For Moissac 26mile return

Our next stop was the Camping Municipal Le Val de Garonne. We try and arrive before lunchtime, as this gives us the maximum time but on this occasion we cut it very fine and the gates were closed. This would not have been a major problem. as there was a massive car park area adjacent to the site. As we were parked outside of the gate and looking forlorn a guy on a motorbike came out. Was he the camp attendant going out for his lunch? He had to be asked and fortunately he was and when we asked if we could have a pitch, he directed us to a hardstanding and said see you later. Another superb example of flexibility that you would struggle to find in the club campsites. The campsite sanitary facilities were fairly basic and old and were fairly typical of a municipal site but it suited us fine.

So we were back on track for our visit to Moissac and to a smaller but still impressive aqueduct over the Tarn river this time. The aqueduct is called the Pont Canal de Cacor. It is upstream from the confluence of the Garonne and the Tarn rivers.The cycle through the marina towards and over the aqueduct was extremely pleasant. In normal times all the bridges over the canal are adorned with flowers but unfortunately this was the hot summer of 2022, so nothing had survived. All through this trip we passed through maize fields where the crop was totally frazzled. It was very disheartening.

On the way back from the aqueduct we stopped at the Terrasses du Pont Canal for a welcome drink. The cafe is literally just after the aqueduct towards Moissac, just off the tow path in a lovely shaded spot.

There is an aire in Moissac.

We didn’t venture in the other direction from the campsite along the canal,as the main attraction was the nuclear power station. Here a new canal has been constructed from the Garonne to provide cooling water for the power station before it re-enters the river again.