Highlights
  • Canal du Midi – Cycle alongside one of the greatest works of civil engineering of the 17th century
  • Béziers and Narbonne - Explore these fascinating medieval cities and their local markets
  • Cathar Castles – Ride through the picturesque landscapes and historic villages of the Languedoc Region or up to the castles of Lastours
  • Carcassonne – Discover this fascinating and impressively preserved walled fortress
  • Local wines and cuisine – Enjoy sampling regional delicacies and sampling the excellent local wines

Cycling some of the tree-lined path along the Canal du Midi, this trip leads us from ancient Roman cities to the Mediterranean coast. Ride through the natural beauty of the Corbières region and absorb the rich history, from the 12th century cathedral in Narbonne to the medieval fortress town of Carcassonne.

Travel Theme
Destinations
Cities & Attractions
  • N/A

73
Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
96% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 55 Great 11 Average 3 Disappointing 3 Terrible 1
Value
4.5 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.6 Lodging
4.3 Transportation
4.5 Meals
4.4
Canal Du Midi

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Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
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I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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Operator Explore!

AP

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Super good tour guide, but the itinerary was rushed October 2016

5.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 5.0
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  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
Junk on Halong Bay, Homestay in Mekong Delta. Hoi An Our tour guide, Long, was excellent and did a super job of mixing history and political context with what we were seeing. He went out of his way to add to the tour, actually taking us to favorite restaurant on his night off. The children loved him and we enjoyed his professionalism and his personal narrative of Vietnam. I felt that the itinerary was very rushed for a family tour. I understand the non family tour is longer and actually that would have been better for the family too. In particular a very busy day in Hue followed a mostly sleepless night on the train. We could have done with more time in Hue, or different activities. Hue was a bad day as the kite making was dull, crowded, and hot, then we didn't get to fly kites as we had not made them. In the end we had little time at the Citadel as we had to transfer into a small bus to navigate the streets.
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Operator Explore!

DC

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Excellent October 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
Mohammed was excellent!

Operator Explore!

JC

Recommends

Enjoy the trip October 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The highlight of this trip was seeing Machu Picchu, which I loved it.

Operator Explore!

AS

Recommends

Great Tour Leader will come back in 2017 October 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
A great tour leader - friendly, personable, approachable, knowledgeable of the local area, sights and people. We plan to come back and cycle with Andrew again in 2017.

Operator Explore!

VF

Recommends

Pleasant surprise experience October 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 5.0
It is hard to say because each outing was a pleasant surprise. The best experience was a workshop on feltmaking in Kazbegi town Georgia) where, as a group, we made the felt from scratch and created our own design. A great opportunity to discover a local craft. It is also an excellent example how this diverse group got along like a house on fire. In Armenia my fqvourite outing was the walk along the Garni river gorge with a local guide. The scenery was breathtaking.
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Operator Explore!

Itinerary

Day 1 - Join trip Carcassonne Airport

Description

We join our trip at Carcassonne airport where you are met by a local representative then drive to historic Béziers where you are met by your Explore Leader. Situated at the heart of a huge wine growing area, it has a colourful and fascinating history. The Gothic cathedral sits high above the canal on the site of the Romanesque building destroyed by the Crusaders' fires against the Cathars. The old centre is crisscrossed by narrow streets offering some great views over the Orb Valley, whilst in the distance the hills of the Cevennes rise up to form the start of the Massif Central. The town is also famous for its Poutous- a delicious treat made from honey, Bitterois- a cake made from almonds as well as some fine regional wines and chocolate. There will be a short briefing to introduce you to the itinerary for the days ahead.

If you wish to drive to the start of the trip please ask us for parking details.

Included Meals : None

Day 2 - Optional ride to Valras Plage, circular route back to Beziers

Description

After becoming acquainted with our bicycles, we cycle out along the Canal du Midi, crossing the River Orb by aqueduct. The Canal's 99 locks and 130 bridges constitute an engineering marvel and its tree-lined tranquil beauty affords us an ideal opportunity to explore the delightful countryside of this part of south-west France. Connecting old trade routes between Languedoc and Aquitaine, the canal was the brainchild of Pierre-Paul Riquet, a 17th century noble whose persistence and fortitude convinced both Louis XIV and his First Minister, Colbert, of the merits of linking the Atlantic with the Mediterranean. The project was begun in 1667 and took some 14 years to complete, eventually carving a trail some 240km in length, from the River Garonne to Agde on the Mediterranean coast. Unfortunately for Monsieur Riquet he died just six months short of the canal's completion, so never actually saw what came to be known as 'Riquet's Ditch' finished. River traffic brought immense prosperity to the towns along its course, until the arrival of the Sète-Bordeaux railway in 1857, which all but saw an end to the commercial importance of the canal. Following a route over the nearby hills we ride away from the canal through the undulating landscape and quiet country roads to Valras Plage. Here there is time for a leisurely lunch and the chance to relax on the seaside beach or take a swim before heading inland again to join the canal path back to Béziers for our second night.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 45 kilometres (Total 166 metres ascent and 164 meters descent)

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 3 - Cycle south along waterways and country lanes; ride to Narbonne

Description

Leaving Béziers behind this morning we ride south along the course of the waterway, passing the famous nine locks at Fonseranes. The locks comprise of eight water basins that extend 300m up a slope of 21.5m, a spectacular feat of civil engineering. There is an opportunity to visit ancient field structures at Montady, where you can get some stunning views across the Béziers plain and the Malpas tunnel. Measuring 173m in length the tunnel was dug below the Colline de Montady in just six days. This was the first tunnel of its kind to be used for the access of canal traffic. From here we turn away from the canal for a short time, taking a route that passes through a rural landscape of traditional village life, to the city of Narbonne, our final destination for today.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres (Total 89 metres ascent and 140 meters descent)

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 4 - Free day or optional circular cycle route via Gruissan back to Narbonne

Description

Today has been left free to explore Narbonne and its surroundings with optional rides on the flat or hillier terrain should you wish. There are options to cycle from Narbonne to either Narbonne Plage or Gruissan via the Canal de la Robine, past the sea lagoons and along the coastline. Closer to home, you can explore the city itself. Formerly the capital of Rome's first settlement in Gaul, Narbonne was once a thriving port and a major centre of commercial enterprise and communication during the middle ages until plague, the English and the silting up of the harbour saw an end to its importance and prosperity during the 14th century. Today its restored medieval quarter and dominating cathedral choir makes it an interesting place to soak up something of the atmosphere of its halcyon days and learn a little of the fascinating history of this region.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres (Total 7 metres ascent and 8 meters descent) or 46 kilometres (Total 98 metres ascent and 98 meters descent) dependning on which route taken.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 5 - Visit Narbonne or optional circular cycle route Vines & Olives

Description

Our day begins with a visit to Narbonne's 100 year old market (Les Halles) where we will have time to browse all the stalls and purchase fresh provisions for our picnic lunch. Following Le Canal de La Robine north out of the city, we are soon riding along the 12 km of tree lined path between the waterside and the vineyards. We stop to view the engineering feat where this short canal joins the river Aude, and ultimately it's connection with the Canal du Midi, then we leave the waterside path and take to the country lanes. Passing through the 10th century village of Moussan, we will stop for our picnic lunch by a 9th century chapel amid the vines and olive trees. Joining a new cycle route in Montredon-des-Corbières, we cross the low hills to return to Narbonne, where the afternoon is left free to visit the sights.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 31 kilometres (Total 197 metrres ascent and 197 metres descent)

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 6 - Cycle the vineyards, farms and towpaths; ride to Carcassonne

Description

After a short train ride this morning to the wine producing town of Lézignan Corbières, our route brings us to one of the region's most visually spectacular settings, the walled fortress of Carcassonne. Once one of the most important and powerful cities in the south, before the all-consuming Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars saw the town fall to the notorious onslaught of the forces of Simon de Montfort. Our ride takes us along the towpath of the Canal du Midi, via a patchwork landscape of vineyards, farms and attractive villages. On the way, we pass the interesting Ecluse de L'Aiguille where the imaginative lock keeper has created some delightfully humorous sculptures from recycled wood and metal. We then finish the day's ride following the waterway into Carcassonne.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 55 kilometres (Total 123 metres ascent and 72 meters descent)

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 7 - View the walled fortress of Carcassonne; cycle locally

Description

Our final day's riding allows the option to do as much or as little as you want. There are a number of optional rides out from Carcassonne, with a chance to cycle along the canal towards Bram and Villepinte and visit the red-roofed streets of these attractive towns, or perhaps take a more energetic option and head into the surrounding hills to visit the old Cathar castle of Chateaux de Lastours, nestling amongst the wild lands of the Orbiel Valley. Actually consisting of four defensive fortresses these are the northernmost citadels of the Cathars, built to protect the route between Carcassonne and Mazamet. Dominating the landscape of scrub, cypress and wildflowers that blanket the river valleys, these ancient keeps present a majestic and poignant reminder of a time when upheaval and religious intolerance blighted this tranquil countryside. Of course you may decide to explore the delights of Carcassonne itself, immersing yourself amongst its medieval remains and enjoying the unique delights of what is surely one of the most perfectly preserved towns of its kind anywhere in France. The city holds a wealth of delights, from the twin towers of the Porte Narbonnaise, to the spectacular Chateau Comtal in the heart of La Cite, whilst at the Basilique St-Nazaire you can find samples of some of the best medieval stained glass in the Midi.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres (Total 350 metres ascent and 349 meters descent) or 70 kilometres (Total 104 metres ascent and 105 meters descent) depending on which route taken.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 8 - Trip ends Carcassonne

Description

The trip ends in Carcassonne after breakfast.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Dates & Pricing
Checking price

Price From

$ 1,300

Price Per Day:

$ 163 per day
 
Details
Trip Includes

Included Bike

21 gear RTE 520 hybrid bikes with front suspension.

Optional Activities

Optional Excursions

N/A

Accomodations

Accommodation Notes

Standard - Our mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities.

End City
Carcassonne
Guides

An Explore Leader is an integral part of any Explore trip and your trip will be led by one of our experienced Explore Leaders who have been handpicked and expertly trained. We believe that our Explore Leaders are the key to the success of our trips; they are passionate travellers who are bursting with first-hand local knowledge which they love to share. Your Explore Leader will also take care of all the planning and organisation throughout your journey. Their passionate approach will make this trip fun and inspiring, bringing the destination to life whether you're travelling alone or with others.

Tour Staff

Explore Tour Leader / Driver

Additional Information:

Cycling Information

On this trip we cycle 203 km over six days (an average of 34 km per day) with further optional rides available. Two of the cycling days are circular routes and therefore optional. We travel mainly on canal towpaths and country roads, on flat or gently undulating terrain. Maps are provided to cycle individually or in groups while the Explore Leader drives the support vehicle, except on circular routes when the Explore Leader will cycle with the group. We have graded the route as easy. GPX files are available for this holiday.

Additional JIs for FI - Start Tour

If you are driving to the start of the trip, the joining hotel in Béziers is situated in the heart of the town centre on Allées Paul Riquet and there is public paid parking close by. Our recommendation is to drive to the end of trip hotel in Carcassonne situated just off the D303 at the east side of the cité, where the hotel has a secure underground paid car park. Take the train from Carcassonne to Narbonne and then on to Béziers to join the trip.

Additional JIs for LO - Start Tour

If you are driving to the start of the trip, the joining hotel in Béziers is situated in the heart of the town centre on Allées Paul Riquet and there is public paid parking close by. Our recommendation is to drive to the end of trip hotel in Carcassonne situated just off the D303 at the east side of the cité, where the hotel has a secure underground paid car park. Take the train from Carcassonne to Narbonne and then on to Béziers to join the trip.

Trip ID#: explore-CCM

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