Seven days, 400+ miles, two oceans… We successfully navigated the Canal de Midi and linked the Canal de Deux Mers to make it from Sète to Bordeaux!
Striking out from Sète last week, we followed the Canal du Midi west. This is an unmarked route, with only a “cartoon map” from the Office de Tourisme to follow. Most of the route to Toulouse is not paved either, and as it rained the day before we set out, the first day on trail was rough. I can imagine better ways to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site than by pushing a bike through mud next to it…
In our first two days, we covered nearly 90 miles in biking (day 1: Sète to Colombiers, day 2: Colombiers to Trèbes). We went off the canal periodically on day 2 and followed some country velo routes into our campground in Trèbes.
We took a short ride from Trèbes to Carcassone the following morning to check out the medieval city. There is a fortification, complete with chateau, basilica and stone walls. We sampled the local cassoulet (beans, sausage and duck) and toured the old ramparts.
After we left Carcassone (day 4), the rain began. Mid-morning it started coming down. I had to wear contact lenses because my glasses were falling off my face, they were so wet. All day it rained and rained and rained. Happily enough, we hit the paved bike path in the early afternoon and made good time to camp that evening.
One of the highlights of our trip so far has been the lovely people we meet along the way. At camp that evening, Les Voilettes in Deyme, we met a British girl named Denning en route to Spain on bike tour. She was our age and spent time in New England, so we had a bit in common.
The next evening in Moissac, we met this really funny, kooky Brit named Peter at our camp. He was on an intense velo tour – all around France, up the Alps, back again. He was funny and kind and we’ll likely see him again.
And then, we biked ~70 miles (day 6 now) to Meilhan-sur-Garrone. Since Deyme we’ve biked paved, marked routes along the Canal du Garrone. The Canal du Garrone & the Canal du Midi meet in Toulouse, becoming the larger pathway known as the Canal de Deux Mers (Two Oceans).
And in Meilhan-sur-Garrone, we bought wine from this wonderfully warm British couple who ran the mercantile near our campground along the canal. They were drinking wine from a box in a mini-fridge with a half-dozen other folks and were very pleasant to talk to.
Today (day 7) we biked closer to 50 miles from Meilhan-sur-Garrone to Gradignan, a small ‘burb of Bordeaux. The bike path ended ~12 miles in this morning, so we biked country routes through vineyards and past grand chateaus. The coolest thing I saw today is likely the cowboy on a Clydesdale, galloping along acres of grapevines.
Tonight, we’ll go into Bordeaux and check out the ville. Tomorrow, ideally a vineyard tour. And from here, we are making our way north to the beaches of Normandy and the coast of Brittany.