Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Carcassonne old town
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Highlights

  • Easy cycling along canalside paths and locks of the Canal du Midi and Robine
  • Explore the UNESCO Cathar Castle of Carcassonne
  • Enjoy waterside picnics of Provençal goats cheese and crusty bread
  • Sample Minervois wine in the ‘Beaux Village’ of Minerve
  • Discover the medieval centre and Mediterranean beaches of Narbonne

Pedal along the UNESCO listed Canal du Midi and Canal du Robine on this relaxed cycling tour from Carcassonne to Narbonne.

Deep in Languedoc-Roussillon, southern France, your tour begins in the exquisitely preserved town of Carcassonne. Explore the 11th century Cathar Castle in the heart of the ‘Old Cite’ before cycling east along the Canal du Midi to the former wine port of Homps. Spending two nights here, ride up to the dramatic village of Minerve, nestled amongst the vineyards of Gorge du Cesse.

From Homps, head along countryside lanes to join the Canal du Robine as it winds its way into the heart of Narbonne. From here you can choose to take a day trip to the ancient Roman town of Beziers or round off your journey with a day exploring the lagoons and beaches of Narbonne Plage and a fresh seafood lunch!

Day 1 Arrive Carcassonne

Located in the heart of the Languedoc, is the fairy tale town of Carcassonne which can be easily reached from it’s nearby airport (20 mins taxi) or the city of Toulouse (1 hour train journey).


Dominated by its 11th century Cathar Castle, the old town of Carcassonne is a delight to explore on foot. Restored in the mid-19th century, the ancient walled-town has an incredible 58 towers and barbicans (one of which housed the 13th century Catholic Inquisition). Later relax in one of the many pavement cafes and sample the typical local dish of ‘Bouillabaisse’ (French fish stew).


Overnight: Carcassonne


Day 2 Cycle to Homps

Leave behind the turrets of Carcassonne’s castle and cycle east along the Canal du Midi towards Homps. Pedalthrough Trebes, Marsiellette and Le Redorte passing ornate lock keepers cottages and the remarkable feats of engineering of this UNESCO listed canal. On arrival Homps, relax in the tranquil gardens of your accommodation where you will spend the next two nights.


Cycle: 45 km


Overnight: Homps


Day 3 Loop Cycle to Minerve

Where the gorges of Brian and Cesse meet, sits the ancient Cathar bastion of Minverve. The ride up to Minerve gently climbs to Cesseras and continues upwards to join a dramatic viewpoint across the Cesse Gorge.     Surrounded by vineyards of the Minervois, this ‘Beaux Village’ is a perfect lunch spot to sample a local glass of Craignan or Viognier before enjoying the down hill roll back to Homps.


Cycle: 40 km


Overnight: Homps


Day 4 Cycle to Narbonne

Leaving Homps, follow the Canal du Midi through the hamlet of Paraza and onwards,  to the junction where the Canal du Midi and Canal du Robine meet. Here, the route swings south along the Canal du Robine and into the heart of the Narbonne, where you will spend the next two nights.


Cycle: 40km


Overnight: Narbonne


Day 5 Discover Narbonne & Beziers / Cycle to the Coast

Today, there are several choices available.


A swift 20 minute train journey connects Narbonne to Beziers. Here you can visit the impressive ‘9 canal locks’, which elevates boats 21.5m over a distance of 300m. If you prefer to explore by bike, cycle south towards the beaches and lagoons of Narbonne Plage and spend an after relaxing on Mediterranean sands.


Alternatively, spend your time wandering the charming streets of Narbonne, hopping between canal side cafes and bars.


Cycle: 20-40 km


Overnight: Narbonne


Day 6 Onward Travel

Travelling on from Narbonne is made easy by train. There are regular services through to Carcassonne (30mins), Toulouse (1hr) and Montpellier (1hr) .

Accommodation

Stay 3 nights in 3* hotels, and 2 nights in a boutique B&B. Below are examples of the accommodations we use on this trip. These accommodations are subject to availability and therefore alternatives of an equal standard may be offered.


Single Rooms & Solo Cyclists

If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.


We also welcome solo cyclists on this tour, again a supplement is payable.


Meals

Breakfasts are included each day, packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local boulangerie. In France simplicity is tasty. Fresh bread from the bakery and a local cheese make for an incredible delcious lunch! Dinners are not included and there is always a delicious restaurant serving locally source dished.



 

 

 



Hotel Montmorency

This medieval property is perfectly located opposite the Comtal Castle. The hotel boasts a panoramic terrace, spa, pool and lush gardens.



 

 

 



Le Jardin d'Homps



Le Jardin d'Homps

A luxury B&B, Gerda and Thomas have created a home from home in their elegant town house. At the rear of the property tropical gardens and swimming pool provide are perfect for cooling off after your ride.



 

 

 



Hotel le Residence

A 19th century mansion in a central location, La Residence is nearby the cathedral, museums and waterside restaurants and cafes of the UNESCO Canal du Robine.

Availability


This trip is available to start on any day from April to October
and is subject to availability. Peak months on this trip are
June to September so we would suggest contacting us as soon as your
plans are finalised.


Navigation & Terrain

This cycling route follows a combination of canal cycle paths, quiet
country roads, stretches of rolling coastal terrain and busier urban
roads when approaching and departing towns and cities. Please  always be
mindful of other roads users at all times. Our tried and tested
detailed routes notes and maps are easy to follow during your
self-guided adventure. We also recommend using our Macs Adventure App.
This easy to use app will navigate you through each of your daily rides.
Full details of the app will be provided in your information pack.


Should you require assistance, 24/7 telephone support will also be available throughout your trip.



Bike Rental


Focus hybrid bikes are available for hire. All bikes are equipped with a pannier, and spare inner tube along with a pump.


Many people also choose to hire an EBike. The added battery power
provides assistance when required. For more information on how EBikes
work click here.


If you’d like to hire a bike, please let us know your height and
frame size you currently ride. Alternatively we’re happy to answer any
questions you have about the hire bike.


Focus Hybrid rental bike


If you would prefer to bring your own bicycle please ensure it is
thoroughly serviced and is an appropriate hybrid or touring bike for
this trip.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour
with Macs Bike that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you
for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care. 


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are
approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing
all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and
trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed
equipment list which includes standard cycling gear such as good shoes,
warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight
clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to Carcassonne / From Narbonne

Getting to Carcassonne


For general travel planning, we recommend the helpful site www.rome2rio.com


By Air



Only a 20 minute bus journey from central Carcassonne, Carcassonne Airport has a number of services connecting through to UK and other European cities.



Toulouse Airport has an extensive number of international connections across Europe and beyond. The airport shuttle bus is a short journey to Toulouse train station. From here, Carcassonne is only a 1 hour train journey.


By Train


Eurostar services from London St Pancras to Carcassonne take around 8-9hrs, changing at either Paris or Avignon.


Getting from Narbonne

By Air


Narbonne train station connects through to Carcassonne (30mins), Toulouse (1hr) and Montpellier (1hr) where airport shuttles services link to the respective airports.


Please check www.sncf.com for full details of times and prices.


By Train


From Narbonne train station a high speed services reaches Paris in around 4hrs 30mins. In Paris, change here for connections through to London (2hrs 30mins-3hrs) and other European cities.


Please check www.eurostar.com for full details.

Included

  • 3 nights 3* hotels & 2 nights boutique B&B
  • 5 Breakfasts • Detailed route notes with maps
  • Macs Adventure Navigation App
  • Baggage Transfer
  • 24/7 local partner and UK telephone support

Excluded

  • Bike Hire
  • Travel to Carcassonne / from Narbonne
  • Lunches & dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Entrance fees
  • Personal equipment and expenditure
  • Travel insurance

Extras

  • Additional nights accommodation
  • Single room supplement (if applicable)
  • Solo Cyclist Supplement
  • Bike/EBike hire

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded easy to moderate with daily distances of 20-45km. On days 2 and 4 you will find the cycling predominately flat and easy going. On day 3, the route up to Minerve is more challenging and you may like to consider hiring an Ebike for a power assisted ride up hills. It's a good idea to get out on your bike for a couple of consecutive days in the lead up to your holiday so you get used to riding back to back days. Each route heads through the villages and towns of the Languedoc so there are plenty opportunities to sample local foods and explore the rich history of this region.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this trip is extremely popular especially in the summer months. You can start this holiday on any day of the week. 

When is the best time of year?

April offers fresh days, cooler evenings and towns can be full of life depending on when Easter falls.

From May through to September the Languedoc is renowned for its exceptionally sunny climate with the hottest months being July and August. During these months the evenings are perfect for a waterside stroll on a long al fresco dinner. Into September and October, the grape festivals begin and you will hopefully be lucky enough to encounter a celebration or two along with a few glasses of wine!

How do the baggage transfers work?

Baggage transfer as per your itinerary is included in the price of your trip. We ask you to keep your baggage to a maximum of 1 bag per person (maximum weight 20kg).

What happens if I can't cycle a stage? 

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. These costs are payable locally. Details of alternative transport will be listed in your information pack. Your accommodation hosts will also be able to help you with any local transport questions.

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