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  #1  
Old 10-19-2013, 10:01 PM
Master Builder
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Washington State USA
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Default Cycling some canals in France

My wife and I got back a couple of weeks ago from a cycling adventure in France and I thought some might enjoy seeing some pictures.

We flew into Merignac which is where the airport that serves Bordeaux is located. Then after assembling our bicycles we rode into Bordeaux, where we spent two nights before setting off on our adventure. We cycled the Canal de Garonne from Bordeaux to Toulouse and the Canal du Midi from Toulouse to a small town named Somail where we joined the Canal du Robine cycling to a town named Gruissan on the Mediterranean coast.

We had a wonderful adventure and left our bicycles with some ex-pat friends in France with plans and hopes to return next year and continue cycling. This adventure included several train trips (returning from Narbonne to Bordeaux and then to Ruffec via Angouleme and finally from Poitiers back to Bordeaux (sans bikes) to fly home).

I took over 700 hundred photos and that would make a very boring read however, here are a few. Should anyone want more photos or have questions about cycling in that area of France just ask.

Bests,
Wiley
Attached Thumbnails
Cycling some canals in France-two-us-st.leger-outside-saveterre-de   Cycling some canals in France-14th-century-fortified-mill-bagas.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-along-le-canal-lateral-la-garonne.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-canal-aqueduct-outside-agen.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-aqueduct-near-moissac.jpg  

Cycling some canals in France-outside-carcassone.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 10-19-2013, 11:39 PM
david s's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Townsville, Nth Queensland,Australia
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

What a wonderful idea. Cycling canals would give you flat riding and as most of them had a horse track beside them would be ideal. My wife and I did a self guided tour (they give you bikes and a map while a taxi takes your stuff to the next accommodation). It was a wonderful trip but there were lots of hills as our tour visited many of the historic fortified towns that were mostly all built on the biggest hills in the area. Looking at your photos makes me nostalgic. I have heard you can hire an old barge that has been converted to live on and chug along the canal at your leisure. By the look of your wet weather gear it looks like you had your fair share of adversity.

Last edited by david s; 10-19-2013 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 10-20-2013, 10:58 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

Yes, David s the level track/trail made for easier riding. That was one reason we selected riding the canals for our first loaded bicycle adventure. Another reason is my wife's heart condition which makes serious hill climbing an iffy proposition.

The romance of traveling the canals by boat or barge is unfortunately mostly in ones mind, as in reality instead of the boat pictured in the first photo below one ends up renting something like the plastic fantastic pictured in the second photo. Ones vision of cruising the canals of France doesn't include traffic jams on the water and the congestion at the locks was something one had to see to believe. There were times wherein one would not see a boat for several hours riding and then encounter a cluster of boats. And each "Captain" with a serious stern expression on his face, certainly not the relaxed laid back with a glass of wine in one hand cruising one envisions. We saw several locks where the wait was several hours to lock up or down and in areas where locks were only a short distance apart this meant a large portion of the day was spent waiting.

But the canals are for the most part very beautiful and IMHO better enjoyed from the saddle of a bicycle than from the bridgedeck of a boat where the view is mostly of the sides of the canal.

As for weather we arrived on a sunny bright warm summer-like day, next day was cloudy and the day we set off was a light rain which held up for most of the day and into the night. The photo of the two of us was taken the next morning when there were some showers still about. They soon cleared and we had mostly light clouds for the rest of the trip (save for our stay in Carcassone where we had a beautiful day). The B&B at St Leger was a converted water mill.

bests,
Wiley
Attached Thumbnails
Cycling some canals in France-what-many-think-when-one-says   Cycling some canals in France-ill-bet-he-didnt-chose-name   Cycling some canals in France-tight-fit-under-bridges-some-locks.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-boats-came-clusters.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-three-lock.jpg  

Cycling some canals in France-narbonne.jpg  
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  #4  
Old 03-28-2014, 02:26 AM
Serf
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: United Kingdom
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

there were only twelve photos out of over 300. I am a newbie here and I am very excited to if you share more of your photos. You and your wife must have had "a tour de France". Nice job!
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2014, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

Hi Fotloot,
Thanks for the kind words, our trip was memorable to us. Yes, we have lots of photos however, most require some dialog/comment as to where and what and that would take a blog (something I am very less inclined to do).

However, I would strongly recommend such an adventure to anyone who loves cycling and a modicum of adventure. This is a very doable adventure for any so inclined. Do you cycle? Are you aware of the Eurovelo system of routes and cycle trails across Europe? Over 70,000 kilometers! Last year we left our bicycles with some friends and we have tickets to return to France this Fall and cycle from St. Nazaire on the Atlantic to Basel in Switzerland on Eurovelo 6. Eurovelo 6 goes from the Atlantic to the Black Sea.

However, for us Eurovelo 6 will end in Basel (I think you in the UK call it Basle). There we will visit for a short while with Frances, long time members of the list will remember Frances' beautiful WFO. IMHO she created the best, most beautiful mosaic covered WFO. She has kindly offered to store our bicycles so that next year (2015) we can return and cycle from Basel to Rotterdam and then on to Amsterdam on Eurovelo 15. There are three Eurovelo routes which cross in Basel: Eurovelo 6, 5 and 15. Here's a link to a basic map of routes:
EuroVelo routes

Grand plans that hopefully life will allow to happen...while my wife and I are pretty fit we are not youngsters.

Bests,
Wiley
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2014, 08:46 PM
Master Builder
 
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

OK, Fotloot I see in re reading my first post I offered to add photos if someone asked and so I will. However, it will take a few days to select and organize something that makes sense.

Bests,
Wiley
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  #7  
Old 04-03-2014, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

OK, so here's enough to bore one to tears:

A short photo essay of our little jaunt from Narbonne to Gruissan. We left our bags in Narbonne in our room and made a day trip to Gruissan.
Attached Thumbnails
Cycling some canals in France-trail-gruissan-canal-de-robine.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-looking-across-inter-tidal-marsh-bay   Cycling some canals in France-trail-joins-main-route-into-gruissan   Cycling some canals in France-tower-fortifications-were-already-recorded-ruins   Cycling some canals in France-one-starts-climb-tower.jpg  

Cycling some canals in France-wearing-cycle-shoes-cleats-makes-climb  
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:41 PM
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

First photo is a look back across the marsh/ bay from which we rode from the tower.

The tower and fortifications were built well back from the present coastline on solid rock. However, the high vantage point allowed some great views of the new town, the yacht basins, the canal entrance as well as the salt pans.

From the tower we cycled down to the beach itself which, because it was off season, was basically deserted. The beach has a nice paved promenade protected by a small rip rap breakwater and runs for several kilometers. There are homes further back behind the paved promenade. The summer homes are all on stilts about 2 meters above the ground. We were told this was to allow storm surges and extra high tides to flood the area without damaging the homes.

The panoramic shots make it appear as if one is in the bend of a bay when in fact one is standing on a straight beach. The distortion in the distant shot of looking back towards the route we rode is less pronounced.

Hope someone found this entertaining.
Bests,
Wiley
Attached Thumbnails
Cycling some canals in France-looking-back-across-bay-toward-way   Cycling some canals in France-tower-looking-sw-land-behind-ships   Cycling some canals in France-telephoto-photo-salt-pans-piles-salt.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-beach-med-off-season-so-no   Cycling some canals in France-beach-homes-elevated-pilings-escape-winter  

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Old 04-04-2014, 08:35 AM
GianniFocaccia's Avatar
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

Wonderfully exposed and composed images! Especially the Cacor canal bridge. I love the arches.

Thanks for sharing.
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  #10  
Old 04-04-2014, 10:32 AM
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Default Re: Cycling some canals in France

Thanks for the kind words, GianniFocacccia,

I too am impressed by arches and here are some photos of others we encountered on this trip.

The one of my wife entering the train tunnel was taken on our first day of riding ...the only day it rained/drizzled all day of our entire trip. This is the Roger Lapebie Cycle Track from Bordeaux to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. This is an alternative start to cycling the Canal Lateral de Garonne, which actually starts up the Garonne River from Bordeaux. This route is more scenic and bypasses some of the industrial section of Bordeaux. The route is all on a converted narrow guage train right of way. All slightly uphill from Bordeaux but very beautiful running thru small towns and thru vineyards. In Creon (a small town on this route) there was a "cave collective" right along the cycle route and we stopped and got our extra water bottles filled with some very nice local wine...750 ml at a cost of .85 euros...about $1 US.

Cave collectives (which I have spelled wrong) is where several farmers who have vineyards join together and create a winery. It is a blend of the local grapes. They are a complete winery with tanks, barrels and bottles etc. The wine is very local and usually quite good and the farmers can take their profits in the form of wine or as cash from the wine sold. One can bring one's own container (often many gallon sized) or buy it in either a glass or plastic bottle. They were amused to have us ask to fill our spare water bottles. Always worth carrying a spare water bottle when in France!

I included the photo taken of the multiple locks as the shape of the lock basin is an oval with each side an arch. The cycle path can be seen on the right side of the photo.

Bests,
Wiley
Attached Thumbnails
Cycling some canals in France-train-tunnel-now-cycle-track.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-rural-bridge-over-canal.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-another-slightly-larger-rural-bridge.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-bridge-over-moat-chateau-carcassonne.jpg   Cycling some canals in France-even-locks-ecluse-oval.jpg  

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