The Canal du Midi runs from Toulouse to the coast – a number of hundred kilometres. It is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for the fact that the canal is so well maintained, is an excellent example of canal engineering and is in such good condition.
However, the same can not be said for the towpath which is now a walking/jogging/cycling track. Near the major centres like Toulouse, it is in very good condition, but in other sections the path is less well maintained and riding on these is not recommended unless one has a mountain bike.
Despite this, many cyclotourists still ride the entire length of the Canal de Midi every year – taking many days cover the full length. They resort to using the normal roads in the sections where the path is too rough to ride.
Sadly, there is a problem with the big trees on the track.
Apparently, the centre of the trunks has been infected by a fungus which leaves the trees weakened. They are almost all sadly having to be cut down and replaced.
But I was amazed and surprised that the people doing the work have gradually replaced many of the trees already, choosing the worst damaged ones first and leaving the others until later. The result is that (unless you are looking for it) you do not notice the replacement program is even happening.
Cycling along the canal towpath in the better sections is one way to get many beautiful views of the waterway. I recently rode 72km along the section from near Castelnaudry to Toulouse and here are some of the scenes I captured.
Originally, we were intending to ride the entire Canal de Midi, but decided against this after reading a few blogs by people who had recently cycled the route.