The Canal du Midi and its sister waterway, the Canal de Garonne, link the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Cycle route V80 follows their towpaths faithfully, with extensive surface improvement works in recent years.
Bordeaux, Toulouse, Carcassonne and Béziers are big draws, and the smaller towns like Castelsarrasin and Castelnaudary justly prized. But the real character of this route lies in the slow pace of canal life, with lock-keepers selling local wine, picnic tables at haltes nautiques, and canalside cafés for a cold drink in the Midi sun.
From the start of the route at Royan to La Réole, the route follows railway paths and minor roads in preference to the fragmentary and rough Garonne towpath. The wide Garonne estuary to Bordeaux has real nautical character, particularly when you cross it by ferry at Blaye.
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