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Le Canal des Deux Mers allows you to hike from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea via the Canal de Garonne and then the Canal du Midi.

From Bordeaux to Toulouse it is the Canal de Garonne (formerly called Canal lateral à la Garonne). This portion is very pleasant, very natural, very green. The buildings, towns and villages crossed, are beautiful and well maintained.

THERE IS NO CYCLING PATH on the Canal du Midi (source AF3V.ORG)

Then from Toulouse to Agde it is the famous and very media-friendly Canal du Midi. From Toulouse to Port Lauragais everything goes on for the best. Then we pass through the department of Aude. Instantly everything changes. No more track, only a chaotic and often abominable path. Until Agde, it's off for almost 200 km of velo-cross.

In reality THERE IS NO CYCLING PATH on the Canal du Midi. Moreover the excellent site of the'AF3V, which lists all the greenways and cycle routes in France, shows it well: the Canal du Midi is in grey meaning "CYCLING ROUTE IN PROJECT".


The mini-slideshow below is by no means exhaustive, it should have been a continuous movie!




Many Internet users talk about this scandal. Even an official document denounces it. It is written with more politically correct roundness, but it is no less edifying.

This document written by the CCI of Béziers is entitled « Le Canal du Midi, un chef-d'œuvre en péril »… "The Canal du Midi, a masterpiece in danger"

In this document (in french), the lack of equipment for bicycles and the total lack of maintenance of the banks is well reported. But, largely beyond that, it describes a host of shortcomings and aberrations resulting from the casualness of local authorities. Not to mention the massive pollution (visual, organic and chemical), for which they write:

" Thus, remarks such as « it's a real trash can here » are not uncommon.."


The Canal du Midi is almost 200 km of velo-cross:

  • No markings
  • Roots, stones, holes, various debris
  • Miles long with a very narrow passageway. Two bikes don't cross each other, even WITHOUT BACKPACKS.
  • Vegetation (including thorny ones!) obstructs the path.
  • Collapses of the shoreline brutally encroach on the path.

Our hosts are outraged and horrified. They told us:

  • They see their clients arrive completely broken physically, even morally…
  • When there are children (on bikes or in trailers), they scream so as not to leave in the morning, which is normal since the poor are shaken like plum trees (children's bikes or trailers are not suspended).
  • Most bikes suffer several punctures every day, even ATVs and mountain bikes.
  • Many bikes suffer mechanical breakdowns (normal bikes and mountain bikes).
  • Cyclists fall into the canal. Mainly where the path is very narrow and especially when it rains and the mud makes everything slippery, while hiding traps on the ground (holes, roots, stones…).
  • When it rains, bicycles and cyclists must be washed with a hose, because they are so dirty.




Regularly readers of our website write to us to confirm this. Example of C.H.'s testimony (July 2015):
"I discovered your site and your page on the Canal du Midi by chance; I thought I was the only one to have had the same reaction, but I am relieved to see that others have even taken the time to write it. We (my wife and I) were looking forward to cycling from Bordeaux to Sete, which we did this spring, with guides and maps, all praising the beauty of the Canal du Midi. And indeed we made the same observation as you; our nightmare day was the day we did Trèbes-Capestang, half of it in the rain; as you can imagine in your page, not only did we do more than 40km looking only at our front wheel to avoid roots and holes, but at the end of the morning, the derailleurs and brakes totally clogged, we had to leave this muddy path to do a stretch of road, no choice; a nightmare. We have 2 VTC with 4 saddlebags for me and 2 for my wife. We don't imagine people passing by with 2-wheel trailers… that morning we met a young girl with a small trailer, exhausted after an hour of cycling, and the pleasure was gone… we were also able to exchange on the train that took us from Sète to Bordeaux with a couple of Belgian pensioners who only did the Canal du Midi, and who told us "it's the same on all the canals of France?". »

Sample testimony from M.C. (December 2015): "It's a pity that in this year 2015 I didn't know about your summary of the Canal du Midi in the Aude and Hérault before leaving because it's really managed by thugs who only think of making money by using P.P.Riquet's renowned formidable prowess. I met tourists of all nationalities who asked me if it was like that all the way and they quickly gave up. While I was driving on the "path" a man was recovering his children who had fallen into the canal! That's why the people who run the canal are just thugs. »

We were lucky. We had good weather and our special bikes (mountain bikes) allowed us to ride comfortably on this miserable track. On the other hand, and despite our high-end German tyres (SCHWALBE) which are very resistant to punctures and punctures, Bételgeuse (although light) suffered a rear tyre explosion on the last stage to Agde.


Luckily Martin, always farsighted, had a spare tire (with a soft bead) in his panniers. As happened on a Sunday, without this spare tyre we would have been stopped and missed our TGVs on the way back.





Many cyclists have complained to the elected representatives of the Aude and Hérault. They are now saying that it is the fault of the State. This is totally false. The decision-makers and financers of the cycle paths ARE THE DEPARTMENTS. Moreover the break in equipment from "real cycle path" to "dreadful path" is PILE at the border between the departments of Haute-Garonne and the lamentable Aude.

Yet all the studies show that investment in cycle paths is very profitable and very quickly amortized by the economic spin-offs of cycling tourism.


The truth is that the departments of Aude and Hérault are PROFITTERS WHO OPERATE CYCLING TOURISTS. Indeed the local politicians know that thanks to the reputation of the Canal du Midi the cyclotourists, like all other tourists, come on their own. No need to invest to attract them. These exploiters are satisfied to collect the financial manna of this tourism without giving the slightest service, the slightest facility to the cyclists.


Canal du Midi : Sabotaged heritage - tinkered and sabotaged bridge   Canal du Midi : Sabotaged heritage - tinkered and sabotaged bridge

In addition, the beauty of the Canal du Midi works of art is praised. This is true for some too rare works. On the other hand, many bridges, which are the most widespread works, have been repaired in a deplorable way. The general shape of these bridges is sometimes beautiful but most often spoiled by cheap concrete masonry. Example in photo opposite.

Even on this aspect the politicians of the Aude and Hérault have acted lamentably. They have sabotaged the heritage of their departments.



Nor should we forget the responsibility of VNFs. On no other canal, in no other department (than Aude and Hérault) have we ever seen towpaths in such a pitiful state, without maintenance. It must be said that contrary to the other tourist canals (including the Garonne canal) the locks are not automatic but manual. As a result, from April to October, VNF staff are mainly employed as lock keepers. It is sure that waiting for the barges, then pressing the buttons on their portable remote control, while joking with the boatmen is less tiring than maintaining the towpaths. Would some local syndicate have succeeded in imposing the blocking of the evolution of their profession to the new necessities of the time?… in the mind of the beholder, this never happens in France…

Canal du Midi - Towpath in disastrous condition   Canal du Midi - Towpath in disastrous condition

Canal du Midi - Towpath in disastrous condition   Canal du Midi - Towpath in disastrous condition

On the Web, some people claim that the absence of a bicycle path allows for a much more natural route. This argument can be an excellent pretext for inaction, but it is VERY surprising because it is contrary to reality. In fact:

  • From Bordeaux to Toulouse, then to Port Lauragais the track is wide and well maintained, you can pedal casually, nose to the wind while admiring and savouring all the nature.
  • On the other hand, from Port Lauragais to Agde, you must ALWAYS BE HYPER-CONCENTRATED, THE NOSE IN THE GUIDON, THE EYE RIVED ON THE GROUND to zigzag, brake, in order to constantly avoid all the obstacles and traps of the terrain. It is impossible to really enjoy nature.


Canal du Midi : Burning the plane trees - What a pleasure to breathe in all this smoke!

The historic plane trees that border the canal are sick with coloured canker. The disease progresses inexorably. The trees are all felled year after year.

The canal is thus completely disfigured. The banks are gradually exposed. No shade and only a sad landscape remains.

You should know that at each of the many sites where diseased trees are felled… there is a burning pit. Indeed it is strictly forbidden to move branches, trunks and roots so as not to spread the disease. So everything is burnt on the spot, just at the edge of the towpath… What a pleasure to breathe all these smokes !!!


Maison décrépie

In this bleak outlook, we must not forget the abuse of the bicycle tour operators who sell this surprising circuit "Canal du Midi" by rating it as "easy". Obviously it's flat! But the reality mentioned above is different. But "the customers want it" so "we sell it to them"!

Moreover on the tourist plan the attraction is also contradicted by the often dirty, even dilapidated state of the cities and villages crossed; it is very Mediterranean… in its worst aspect!!!






Compte tenu de l'état déplorable du Canal du Midi et sachant qu'il est défiguré pour de très longues années par l'abattage de tous ses arbres, le meilleur conseil est donc de le zapper totalement.


The best is to prefer the Canal de Garonne to him. It is less crowded, much more natural, greener and quieter. On this last point it should indeed be recalled that the Canal du Midi runs (often and closely) along very large roads and motorways which are very noisy.

For the volunteers who absolutely want to ride on this course, it is IMPERATIVELY advisable to do it on mountain bikes, without children, out of season (meeting in the middle of the season is a permanent nuisance and a danger) and to aim for a period of good weather.

Update 12/08/2015
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