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Relax Bike Tours France: High quality bicycles for rent close to the train station and Canal Du Midi

"Independent self guided tours for the more adventurous cyclists."

 
 

 
 

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Guestbook entries:

“Solid and well equipped bikes.”
Lasse
Norway. (p. 2)
 
"750 Km - what a great experience - on a Relax Rentals bike. Bordeaux to Agde, no trouble with bikes, very reliable - Merci"
Roz & Dave, Sue & Paul
Australia (p. 63)

"We would have loved to stay on the bikes for another week or two. We recommend Relax Rentals."
Pasquale
Norway (p. 65)

"Our third bike tour in Europe and by far the best equipped, best organized, and friendliest hosts."
Robert & Barbara
Australia (p. 67)

 

Languedoc Bicycle Routes!
Independent Cycle Routes = Bike rental + map + hotel recommendations

There are several exciting bicycle itineraries available for the proven cyclists.  You can compose your own desired routes by consulting the map below.  We have spent many months finding and researching the best routes for you and have printed highly detailed maps with every possible combination of route.  Our maps are printed in a book format, and each segment of the route is explained both with text and topographical maps varying in scale from 1:25000 to 1:75000, with the more detailed maps for the more complex areas.  Furthermore, we have included historical information for every point you pass, ranging from information about nearby caves, fossils, museums, origin of village names, population sizes, market days, best restaurants available, warnings about lack of restaurants along certain segments so that you can make sure to have purchased a picnic before hand, etc, etc.  Our maps also show recommended hotels. 

These maps took many months of work to make.  You will not need to bring or make your own map.

These maps are available for FREE to anybody riding these routes.  We do ask you to return the maps after your trip.  Map languages include both English and French.

If these routes interest you, there is no reason to go with any other bike hire company then Relax Rentals!  We provide you with everything you will need and even include the most detailed map you will have ever seen anywhere in the world!

Independent tour definition:  If you prefer to book your own hotels or use campings, than the independent tour option is just for you.  We will provide you with a fully equipped bicycle (the same as used on the full package tours), waterproof panniers, maps, and hotel recommendations, the rest is up to you.  We can also store excess luggage for you until you come back.  Bicycle dropoff and/or pickup are available as well in some places.

Passa Païs:  The Passa Païs is a brand new Voie Verte (bike path) located in the Languedoc province in the south of France.  The last few kilometers were completed in 2013 around Bedarieux.  At Relax Bike Tours we are proud to be the first tour operator to include the Passa Païs.  Hotels are still sparse along the route, but we have scouted out the area and found a wonderful collection to make your trip both fun and comfortable. 

Useful Links:  Parc Naturel du Haut-Languedoc

We have maps for all the green routes shown on the map below.

 


(Click on boxes for more details)

 

Segment Details - Mix and Match to create your own route

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Albi - Castres.  ~41 Km / 25 Miles - Bike path.

Arrival Béziers.  Get fitted to bikes and transfer luggage into our waterproof panniers and handlebar bag.  Excess luggage can be stored by us until you come back.  Cycle to train station 400 meters from our store and board the train to Albi.  Arrive in Albi in late afternoon. 

Among the buildings of Albi is the Sainte Cécile cathedral, a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic style, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It is characterized by a strong contrast between its austere, defensive exterior and its sumptuous interior decoration. The Episcopal city, situated in the center of Albi, around the cathedral, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2010.  The Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) dates from 1035 and Albi grew rich partially from the tolls it charged to cross this bridge.  The bridge is still in use after almost a millennium.  Later, in the 1200's the city prospered due to its manufacturing of pastel colors and blues specifically from the woad plant.  Albi is the home of the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. More than 1000 works, including the 31 famous posters, are here. This body of work forms the largest public collection in the world devoted to Toulouse-Lautrec.  Older than the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops' Palace of Albi, now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France. This imposing fortress was completed at the end of the 13th century.  

Train+Bike Info: Take the train from Béziers to Albi.  Price about 38 euros per person, with bike free.  Reserve tickets ahead of time.  Buy tickets here.  Make sure you are on a TER train.  If it says CAR that means bus, and it might not be possible to bring your bike.  Avoid TGV as they may require you to put the bike into a bag (in order to keep the other passengers' luggage clean).  TGV and Intercity also cost 10 euro per bike extra.

albi seen from other side of the river cathedral in albi albi palace of berbie henri de toulouse lautrec poster

 

You will be cycling over an ancient railroad converted to a bike path running from Albi to Castres.  The track is well marked and passes through several villages.  There are also water fountains along the path to refill your water bottles.  The Tarn Department has many dovecotes, or large pigeon houses.  They were a status symbol for the rich during the middle ages, and some measure up to 15 meters high.  Along the way you will spot a few of these.  You will cycle past the town of Lautrec, which is classified among The Most Beautiful Villages in France for its medieval site and superb architectural heritage.  Lautrec is a good place to stop for lunch.  This region is also the main production area of pink garlic.  You will also pass through fields of sunflowers.  The bike path is level and for large parts shaded.

bicycle path from albi to castres bike path from albi to castres people cycling from albi to castres pigeon house along voie verte albi castres

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Castres - Mazamet.  ~25 Km / 16 Miles - Small paved roads.

Castres became an important stop on the international pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain because its abbey-church, built in the 9th century, had the relics of Saint Vincent, the renowned martyr of Spain.  Pierre de Fermat, a famous mathematician, lived in and is buried in Castres.  Before you leave today, you will have time to visit the Musée Goya in Castres.  It is one of the best museums in France, with a concentration on Spanish art including works by Goya and Picasso.  Leaving Castres, you will be following small paved roads with little traffic today.

castres jardin de leveche castres and its river painting found in castres goya museum bicycle path close to castres

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Mazamet - St Pons.  ~36 Km / 22 Miles - Passa Païs.

In Mazamet you join the brand new Voie Verte (bike path) called Passa Païs.  This path is an old converted railroad.  You will pass old train stations, go over bridges, and pass through tunnels.  The path is level and car free.  You will have plenty of time to take breaks along the way.  There are also several caves along the way.  You might be able to spot menhirs, large stones placed vertically by humans between 3500 and 2000 BCE.

passa pais bicycle tour one of the many tunnel on passa pais to cycle through inside a passa pais bicycle tunnel

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St Pons - Bedarieux.  ~39 Km / 24 Miles - Passa Païs.

You are cycling on an ancient railroad track converted to a bike path running through the Parc Naturel Du Haut Languedoc. The park is rich in flora and fauna, including owls, eagles, otters, the very rare European genet (a catlike mammal), and crawfish and trouts in its many streams. Many protected species live in the park.  Along the way you will pass many natural wonders such as the thermal springs at Lamalou-Les-Bains, the stunning canyon of Gorges d'Heric (feel free to stop here and take a small hike - 5k to the top), and caves.  You will also pass through Olargues, voted one of "the most beautiful villages in France."  In Olargeus, make sure to visit the Pont Du Diable.  In St Pons you can visit the new museum of pre-history, located across the street from a church founded in 936.

olargues pont diable along bike tour gorges de heric along bicycle route passa pais lamalou les bains along voie verte passa pais

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Bedarieux - Beziers.  ~47 Km / 29 Miles - Hills.

You will follow small paved roads through vineyards with little to no traffic.  On the way you will pass through several small villages.  There will be a few hills to climb along the way, especially the first 5 Km.

OPTION: Take the train Bedarieux - Beziers.  Buy tickets here.  Cost only 1 (one) euro per person with bike for free.

beziers seen from bridge over orb river general landscape between bedarieux and beziers bedarieux

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Mazamet - Carcassonne.  ~52 Km / 32 Miles - Mountains. 

Today will be harder than the previous days, due to having to cross a mountain range.  But the last 32 Km will be mostly downhill, so wear your helmet.  You will be on roads with moderate to little traffic.  You will also reach the highest point of your trip today at 720 meters.  Following the Route Des 4 Chateaux, you will cycle past the famous Las Tours ruins.  The day's journey ends in Carcassonne with its Cité Medieval, an UNESCO world heritage site.

OPTION: Take the train from Mazamet to Carcassonne.  Price about 30 euros per person, with bike free.  Reserve tickets ahead of time.  Highly recommended if you are not a strong cyclist!  Buy tickets here.  Make sure you are on a TER train.  If it says CAR that means bus, and it might not be possible to bring your bike.  Avoid TGV as they may require you to put the bike into a bag (in order to keep the other passengers' luggage clean).  TGV and Intercity also cost 10 euro per bike extra.

road from mazamet to las tours las tours along bike tour carcassonne along bike tour

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St. Pons - Minerve.  ~42 Km / 26 Miles - Mountains.

Soon after St Pons you will depart the Voie Verte and head back south again.  At Courniou you can visit the caves of La Deveze, located along the Voie Verte.  The rest of the day will see many climbs and descents as you are crossing a mountain range to get to Minerve.  You will be on roads with moderate to no traffic. Today you will reach the highest point of your journey at 678 meters.  The last 7 Km will be all the way downhill.  Minerve, just as Olargues and Lautrec, has also been voted one of the most beautiful villages of France and you spend the night here.

source of river in saint pons la deveze cave along bike path passa pais minerve

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Minerve - Narbonne.  ~44 Km / 27 Miles - Hills.

There are a few climbs today making your way out of Minerve and farther south again.  However, the last 33 Km will be downhill.  You will cycle through Bize-Minervois where bones have been found of Cro-Magnon man.  A few kilometers farther you will cross the famous Canal Du Midi at Le Somail.  Canal Du Midi is an UNESCO world heritage site, and Le Somail is its most authentic and beautiful village.  Following the Canal de Robine along a bike path, you will soon reach Narbonne.  In front of the cathedral you can see part of the old Roman road that ran from Italy to Spain.  If you decide to spend another night in Narbonne, you can cycle to the beach and back again following a dedicated bike path.

bize minervois along bike tour le somail along bike tour rental boats on canal

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Castres - Lac St Ferreol  ~35 Km / 22 Miles - Small paved roads, signposted

This is the easiest way to get from Castres to the Canal Du Midi, as it involves the least amount of climbing.  The route is signposted with large panels showing you which way to cycle.  Lac St Ferreol is where the Canal Du Midi officially starts.  Lac St Ferreol is a bit hard to reach by bike as the last kilometers are a very steep climb uphill!  Thus if hills are not your thing, it might be nicer to stay in Revel.  Revel is also more lively as it is an actual village.  The bike path from Lac St Ferreol to Castelnaudary runs through Revel as well, so there is no need to climb the big hill to the lake the next morning if one elects to spend the night in Revel instead.

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Lac St Ferreol - Castelnaudary  ~50Km / 31 Miles - Canal Du Midi

Follow the Rigole de la Plaine towards Canal Du Midi.  All water flowing through Canal Du Midi goes through this creek, the lake being the source of all the water.  It was Paul Riquet's idea to use the water from the Black Mountains to finally allow the construction of the overland waterway from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  The Rigole joins the Canal at le Seuil de Naurouze.  This is the so-called continental divide; rain falling to the East of this point will end up in the Mediterranean, and rain falling on the west will end up in the Atlantic.  Today's trip leads you to Castelnaudary, famous for its local dish "cassoulet."

lac st ferreol bassin for canal du midi water supply fountain at paul riquet museum lac st ferreol new zealand cyclists riding from revel to castlenaudary 

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Castelnaudary - Carcassonne  ~40Km / 24 Miles - Canal Du Midi

Another great cycling day awaits you this day.  Cycling on the flat towpath of the Canal Du Midi, you will pass vineyards, locks, poppy fields, and sunflower fields.  You will have plenty of time to visit the medieval cité of Carcassonne.  The Cité is the largest medieval castle in the world, and its cobbled streets, drawbridges, and narrow streets are said to have inspired Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

canal du midi bicycle path carcassonne castle with blue sky taking a break while cycling the canal du midi

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Carcassonne - Homps.  ~45 Km / 28 Miles - Canal Du Midi.

After a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast you will start cycling along the Canal Du Midi.  The Canal Du Midi dates from the 1600's and was build to transport goods from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  The canal is also an UNESCO world heritage site.  Enjoy the peace and silence passing by vineyards, locks, poppy fields, and sunflower fields cycling along a car-free towpath.

carcassonne castle with blue skies cycling along canal du midi with our rental bikes historic bridge over canal du midi

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Homps - Narbonne.  ~40 Km / 25 Miles - Canal Du Midi.

Continue to follow the Canal Du Midi for about 22 Km to Le Somail, after which you will start heading south towards Narbonne.  You will be on the towpath along the Canal, and on quiet roads while making your way to Canal De La Robine, at which point you will once again be on a car-free towpath leading directly into downtown Narbonne.

rental boats on canal du midi canal de la robine in narbonne narbonne cathedral

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Narbonne - Béziers.  ~36 Km / 22 Miles - Canal Du Midi.

Leaving Narbonne you will follow small roads with little to no traffic passing through several small villages.  After about 26 Km you will join the Canal Du Midi and head downstream towards our hometown.  Along the way you will see the Tunnel de Malpas, the only tunnel on the Canal Du Midi, and the famous Nine Locks of Fonseranes, where the canal drops 21.5 meters.  Shortly after that, a beautiful aquaduct will take you directly into Béziers.
OPTION: Take the train Narbonne - Beziers.  Buy tickets here.  Make sure you are on a TER train.  If it says CAR that means bus, and it might not be possible to bring your bike.  Avoid TGV as they may require you to put the bike into a bag (in order to keep the other passengers' luggage clean).  TGV and Intercity also cost 10 euro per bike extra.

inside tunnel de malpas canal du midi lock in action nine locks of beziers

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Skip Narbonne and stay along Canal Du Midi

This option allows you to keep following the Canal Du Midi.  You will have time today to take it easy and visit Le Somail.  Le Somail was founded by Paul Riquet and served as one of the overnight stays for passengers on the mail boat.  Le Somail is picture perfect.  It is also home to a very large bookstore.  One can elect to spend a lovely night in a B&B in Argeliers.  Other highlights include the Malpas Tunnel, the famous Nine Locks, and the largest aquaduct of the Canal Du Midi.

 

nine locks of beziers pont vieux and beziers cathedral malpas tunnel interior view

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Recommended routes include the following combinations.  But you can of course design your own route.

1. Beziers - Bedarieux - St Pons de Thomieres - Mazamet - Castres - Revel - Castelnaudary - Carcassonne - Homps - Narbonne - Beziers

2. Beziers - Bedarieux - St Pons de Thomieres - Minerve - Narbonne - Beziers

3. Albi - Castres - Mazamet - St Pons de Thomieres - Bedarieux - Beziers

4. Albi - Castres - Revel - Castelnaudary - Carcassonne - Homps - Narbonne - Beziers

Several examples are listed below in greater detail.

 

passa pais bike tour showing rented bicycles, tunnel, minervePassa Païs and Minerve.  This route takes you from Béziers to Bédarieux.  Bédarieux used to be one of the busiest train stations in France.  This was during the mid 1900's.  Today the railroad from Bédarieux to Mazamet has been converted into a Voie Verte cycle path.  You will cycle past high mountains and might even be able to spot a mountain goat.  Bridges and tunnels add to the excitement of this journey.

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passa pais complete bike tour showing rented bikes, las tours, carcassonne castle, bridge on passa pais voie verte.Passa Païs Complete.  This route takes you from Béziers to Bédarieux.  Bédarieux used to be one of the busiest train stations in France.  This was during the mid 1900's.  Today the railroad from Bédarieux to Mazamet has been converted into a Voie Verte cycle path.  You will cycle past high mountains and might even be able to spot a mountain goat.  Bridges and tunnels add to the excitement of this journey.  From Mazamet you will head south again towards Carcassonne, a UNESCO world heritage site.  On the way you will also cycle past Las Tours, a famous Cathar stronghold from the middle ages.

Details

 

 

albi to beziers via passa pais collage showing bicycles on tour, albi bridge, goya museum painting, castres gardensAlbi to Béziers via Passa Païs.  Most of this route will be on old railroads converted to bike paths.  Albi is a popular tourist attraction in part due to its UNESCO listed inner city.  You will also cycle past Lautrec, a village listed among the "most beautiful villages of France" and the main production center of pink garlic.  In Castres one can visit the Musée Goya, with a large and important collection of both French and Spanish art.  It is one of the best museums in France.  You will also be cycling the entire length of the Passa Païs, the old converted railroad running through the mountains.

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Come cycle the Languedoc with Relax Bike Tours.  Using the highest quality products available along with the most detailed route maps, this will be a pleasure for both young and old alike. 

We have researched hotels along the route for you.  All the hotels we have selected have 2 or 3 stars.  When selecting these hotels we considered such things as:

1. Place to store bicycles
2. Breakfast (with breads, meats and cheeses)
3. Location
4. Authenticity
5. Friendliness
6. Cleanliness
7. Comfort

Our selection of hotels are truly handpicked by us!  We have visited many hotels in each town along the route, inspected all the rooms, and talked at length with all the owners.  The hotels are all centrally located, in the best parts of town and not on the town borders along a busy highway for example.

Procedure: 

  • Arrive in Béziers.  You arrive by train, car or you can fly with Ryanair into the Béziers - Cap d'Agde airport, and take the airport shuttle to Béziers.  You can either exit the shuttle at the Béziers train station (400 meters south of our shop) or the main bus station (called De Gaulle bus stop and located 600 meters north-east of our shop).
     

  • Get fitted with bicycles in our shop and pack your essentials into our 15 Liter Norco waterproof pannier bags.  Two bags per bike for a total of 30 Liters of storage on the back of each bicycle.  The front Norco bag holds about 6 Liters, and is an ideal place to store your camera or phone.  Excess luggage can be stored in our garage for free.  (Our garage has a double steel door but nonetheless items will be stored at your own risk!)
     

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Rent A Bike Canal du Midi : Toulouse - Castelnaudary - Carcassonne - Narbonne - Béziers - Agde - Sète

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Relax Bike Tours & Rentals
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Tel: (+33) 06 38 12 32 82
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Mentions obligatoires prévues à l’art. L. 121-18 du code de la consommation et loi du 21/06/2004 sur la confiance dans l’économie numérique (LCEN):  © Relax Rentals, 70 Allées Paul Riquet, 34500 Béziers, France.  RCS Béziers 539 587 139, Entreprise Individual Code Naf 7721Z. Prix en TTC. Hébergeur du site: Host Papa, 68 King William Street, London, UK EC4N 7DZ