Cycling along the Canal du Midi
Last week, during a family holiday, I enjoyed a few days cycling along the Canal du Midi, or, more accurately, cycling along a stretch of the Canal du Midi near Carcassonne in the south of France. The canal's full length is 240km from Tolouse to Agde (or Sète – it depends which guidebook you believe).
Pierre Paul Riquet built the canal at the end of the 17th century. It ceased to provide a viable commercial form of transport some time ago, but today affords pleasure to those travelling by boat, bike, horse and on foot. The Canal du Midi was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997.
You can’t walk more than a few yards without seeing yet another vineyard in the Aude département (Fitou, Minervois, Corbieres et al) where the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) standard mark is jealously guarded for the wine produced there.
Although you could get away with just six gears on the canal towpath there are too many other places worth visiting that require lower gears, especially if you are carrying more than a spare tube, spanner and a couple of tyre levers. I was thinking of cycling the full distance, maybe next year, but getting there and other logistics are a bit off-putting. Besides, Mrs Bailey is already looking into a holiday including Amsterdam and Rotterdam this summer. Meanwhile, the in-laws are hoping to return to the Canal du Midi and rent a boat. Very nice, too.