Toulouse to Castelnaudary Along the Canal du Midi

Distance: 60 km.  Difficulty: Easy.  Type: Mostly cycling path.  Starting Point: Toulouse.

Description: Starting in the fabulous pink-bricked city of Toulouse, capital of the Midi-Pyrenees region, this easy ride follows the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO Heritage Site, that meanders its way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Your ride however, doesn’t make it that far. It ends in Castelnaudary, famous for being the home of Cassoulet, a dish you really need to cycle all day to ‘earn’.
Directions: From in front of the main train station in Toulouse, simply cross over the canal and turn left. The cycling path begins immediately, and will take you out of the city pretty quickly. A few km down the path crosses back over to the left (north) side of the canal and stays there for the rest of the ride.

There are a few locks on the way, but otherwise the only attractions will be the pleasure boats plying the canal, the shady trail, and the glimpses of countryside you will have through the trees. The locks are good places to think about resting, having a drink, or maybe lunch. Out of season, pack your own lunch or take a detour along the way to hit one of the villages that link up with the canal.

Around 50 km from Toulouse the cycling path ends. It is entirely possible to continue on the dirt path, but that will depend on what you are riding and how much you like off-roading. Turn left off the path (where the bitumen ends) and take the road to the D6113, a busy road, but fast and flat. And celebrate a border crossing while you are at it. You are now in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France. Stay on the D6113 till you arrive in Castelnaudary, a few km down the road.

For the full route linking the Atlantic coast to the Canal du Midi, see here.