Independent bike tour - Cycling over railroads converted to bike
Independent Cycle Routes = Bike rental + map + hotel recommendations
188 Km. Difficulty: Easy to Medium. Must change trains
either in Toulouse and/or Narbonne. A few hills after Bedarieux.
from Béziers to Mazamet for about 38 euros.
option of taking train+bike from Bedarieux to Béziers for about 9 euros.
dates: Everyday, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
This is an independent bicycle tour: If
you prefer to book your own hotels or use campings, than this 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
For alternate routes similar to
this route please visit our
Languedoc Bike Routes page.
Day 1. Arrival Béziers. Get fitted to
bikes and transfer luggage to 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 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 characterised 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 from the woad plant.
Albi is the home of the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. More than 1000
works, including the 31 famous posters, are held 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.
Day 2. Albi - Castres. 41 Km. You
will be cycling over an ancient railroad converted to a bike path
running from Albi to Castres. The track is wel 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.
Day 3. Castres - Mazamet. 25 Km.
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, was keeping the
relics of Saint Vincent, the renowned martyr of Spain.
Pierre de Fermat,
a famous mathematician, lived in and is burried 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.
Day 4. Mazamet - St Pons.
36 Km. At Mazamet you join the
brand new Voie Verte (bike path) called Passa Pais. This path is
an old converted railroad. You will pass old trainstations, 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.
Day 5. St Pons - Bedarieux.
39 Km. You are cycling 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), 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 accross the street from a church founded in 936.
Day 6. Bedarieux - Beziers.
47 Km. 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.
Other route options:
Day 1: Cycle from Beziers
Day 2: Take train from Narbonne to Albi.
Benefits: Get used to
bicycle without being too far from our home-base. Start by cycling
along the Canal Du Midi, and see the aqueduct across the Orb River, the
Nine Locks, and the Tunnel de Malpas. Get to visit Narbonne.
Also no need to change trains in Narbonne since you will already be
Day 1: Arrival in Beziers. Take train+bike to Albi.
Day 2: Spend extra day in Albi.
Day 3: Continue with trip as outlined above.
Benefits: Get to explore
Albi for a whole day.
Cycle distance from Mazamet to Bedarieux in one day. This route is
flat, well marked, and unable to get lost on. So if you have
cycled 75 Km in one day before, this might be a good option for you.
However, the scenery is very beautiful, and it will be a pity really to
race through it.