Get intimate with rural France as you trace the Canal des Deux Mers – an ancient thoroughfare linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. In the Middle Ages, when transport over land was slow and dangerous, canals were constructed to ship wares all over Europe quickly and more effectively. Goods were placed on barges in the narrow waterways and then bow-hauled to their destinations by gangs of men on shore. Although this method of transport is long gone, the remnants of these well traveled routes provide a thought-provoking counterpoint to modern life, especially when following the canal paths at a bicycle's pace. The canals are dotted with locks, each one a tiny hub of activity for the cozy hamlets and rural communities surrounding them, and the well worn trails beside the canals are perfect for contemplative cycling.
Between Saint-Emilion and the fantastic castle-town of Carcassonne the route is lined with vineyards and graceful plane trees and is still considered one of the masterpieces of Louis XIV's reign. On the way to Toulouse, you follow the Canal de Garonne - a secluded waterway reaching well into the heart of rural France and boasting hundreds of structures including locks, bridges, dams, and a tunnel. Riding this route through appealing walled towns of the Midi-Pyrenees, each nestled among farms and vineyards, you will follow paths well suited to cycling. You will be well away from the bustle of traffic, enjoying level terrain, lush and charming scenery, and peaceful gardens. We invite you to come and linger by the water's edge.