Canal du Midi by Bike: Argeliers to Béziers
From the bridge of Argeliers, the Canal heads east once again. Continue on the towpath, which is wide but unpaved and bumpy. When you reach the D 36 after 3.5 km, be careful as you climb up the bank to cross it. The gravel is very loose here, and it might be better to get off and push your bike (You could also follow the trail under the bridge, but it may be too narrow here to negotiate it safely). Up ahead, the path is more clay than gravel. Again, with the right gear and an eye on the path, it shouldn't present a problem, but a rather enjoyable ride in the middle of nature.
Less than 2 km later, you'll reach another humpbacked canal bridge.
4 km Ouveillan
Just to the right of the bridge (D184), you'll find the CHRelais de Pigasse. It's a beautifully restored stone house in an atmospheric canal-side setting.
TODO: From D36 to D184, also a wide gravel lane on north side.
TODO: also a farmtrack parallel to D13, but really basic. D13 itself too major of a road. It's a razor-straight, well-paved invitation to tear down, cyclists be damned. If you do take it, turn left at a paved track named
From the relais, the clay-and-gravel path continues, as the Canal meanders through the countryside. After 7 km, you'll pass a winery, the CHDomaine de l'Ale, which also offers rooms:
After another 4 km, you reach the small town of Capestang.
11 km Capestang
Capestang is a lovely place to stop for lunch or stay overnight. Several cafés are clustered around its impressive 12th-century church, and there are three B&Bs. In addition, a luxury hotel 2.5 km northwest of the town offers apartments and villas in a vineyard château.
TODO: more restaurants
From the bridge at the entrance of Capestang, an unpaved track runs along the Canal, under a second bridge (D 37E4), then becomes a narrow trail outside of town. After 3 km, cross the D 11 (or, go under the bridge if the trail is passable). After 500m, you'll pass the Domaines des Marins, a winery (No accomodations, but they offer wine tasting).
2 km later, you'll reach Poilhès.
6 km Poilhès
This quaint Canal village has a great French restaurant, La Tour Sarrasine, and an apartment-style hotel. Both are at the end of the village, and you will pass them as you ride along the Canal. Additional accommodations can be found in nearby Nissan-lez-Enserune.
At the end of Poilhès, you'll be on the D 37 for 500m. The road leads to Nissan-lez-Enserune, but it isn't the best choice for cycling, there's a better option later. Pick up the bike trail to the left and continue along the Canal. The clay-and-gravel path is better here than on previous sections. After 4 km, you reach the Malpas Tunnel. (TODO: explain)
Cross to the other side of the Canal. The path is signposted here, for a change — even with two signs!
If you wish to reach Nissan-lez-Enserune, take the paved lane heading southeast (signposted and marked D 162E3).
To visit the Roman ruins at the Oppidum d'Ensérune, an ancient hilltop town, head north on the D 162E3 for just over 1 km (a 5% climb).
The path continues on the north bank from here until Bèziers. 1.5 km after the tunnel, you reach a stone bridge — the entrance to Colombiers.
A slightly faster and better-paved option to get directly to Colombiers is the Chemin de Malpas on the south bank (signposted
Colombiers / Port Fluvial), though a dyke hides the Canal from view and you may have to share the path with an occasional car.
2 km from the Canal, this small town offers a hotel and three B&Bs. Reach it via the D 162E3, and return to the Canal the same way.
Even though the D 162 leads directly to Colombiers, take the D 162E3 back to the Canal, then continue on the bike path on the opposite side, or on the
Chemin de Malpas.
6 km Colombiers
To enter Colombiers from the towpath, cross the bridge. The village has a small leisure port, where two floating chambres d'hôtes are docked. You'll find three land-based B&Bs, as well.
TODO: Via Domitia, hotel part of clinic
Capestang market days Wed and Sun?
Continue along the clay-and-gravel path on the north bank. After 4 km, you'll reach a humpbacked stone bridge. There's a hamlet named La Gourgasse with a group of vacation apartments.
After this point, the trail is a mess, and it may be tempting to follow the paved lane that runs parallel to it, but this lane will eventually take you away from the Canal. Just tough it out for a few hundred meters, the path improves as soon as you pass under the D 64 road bridge. You'll pass under another road (D 609) shortly thereafter, and then you come to the mother of all locks: the famous Écluses de Fonserannes, an eight-chamber monstrosity (six of them are used to raise and lower boats nearly 22 meters, the equivalent of a seven-story building).
There's a tourist office at the bottom end, where you'll cross a footbridge to continue along the Canal (the waterway straight ahead is the basin of a disused port). Follow the bike path for 1 km to another masterpiece of engineering, the pont-canal across the river Orb, leading into Béziers.
TODO: view of cathedral
8 km Béziers
Béziers is the birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the engineering mastermind behind the Canal du Midi. As in Toulouse, he's honored with a statue, set along the namesake
Allées Paul Riquet.
The Saint-Nazaire Cathedral offers stunning views from atop its tower. It's an unmistakable sight as you cross the bridge.
After crossing Orb, pass the Écluse de l'Orb
path is steep here, pass around a barrier at entry of port
continue along the quay
Then pass Écluse de Béziers at east end of basin/port
At Rue des Péniches, turn left to enter town
The hotels in the center of Béziers are mediocre, with one exception: H Hôtel des Poètes is on a quiet street next to the park, offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price, and is close (but not too close) to the train station. As an added bonus, it's right next door to Relax Rentals.
Although we researched this guide diligently, we make no guarantees as to its accuracy. All information is provided without warranty of any kind, and we assume no liability for any damages resulting from its use. Pricing is illustrative only and does not constitute a binding offer. Traffic, weather, and other unforeseen conditions may make the proposed routes impracticable. Please use caution and common sense, and always follow the rules of the road and local laws.