Le Somail - ©Benjamin Deliere, Atouts France

How long does it take
to visit the Canal du Midi?

The Canal du Midi flows through diverse regions and past a great number of natural and cultural sights. The duration of your visit to this unique waterway depends on your chosen means of transport and what you'd like to see and do.

On foot, by bike or by boat, plan a visit that is suited to your needs to explore Riquet's masterpiece and discover the picturesque places along the banks of the Canal du Midi.

The Canal du Midi by boat:
possible durations and routes

Exploring the Canal du Midi from the water is a unique and magical experience! A cruise is guaranteed to be memorable as it is a bucolic experience that will whisk you away from your daily routine.

A cruise for a few hours...

Explore the canal for a few hours aboard a barge or sightseeing boat. This is a great way to experience the Canal du Midi and see some of the remarkable engineering structures.

There are plenty of boat trips to choose from, departing from Sète, Béziers, Carcassonne, Castelnaudary and Toulouse. Choose from 1.5 hours, 2 hours or full day boat trips to discover the unmissable sights of the Canal du Midi. 
You can also choose to go at your own pace aboard an electric boat for a few hours...

Or for several days!

If you choose to go on a cruise over several days, you can really embrace your experience on the water, and appreciate the sheer diversity of scenery along the Canal du Midi.
With friends or family, board a barge and just sit back and take in the scenery, villages and engineering structures dotted along Pierre-Paul Riquet's creation. Depending on what you fancy doing, you could choose a full-board or half-board package deal.

Cruises, sightseeing boat trips, hotel barges

Hire a boat on the Canal du Midi

You can hire a boat or a small barge from one of the many boat hire companies on the banks of the Canal du Midi.  
Several types of boats are available, to accommodate between 2 and 12 people. 

These boats do not require a boating licence for inland waters.  

Boats and barges to hire without a permit

Sailing on the canal is not particularly difficult, but it is important to be aware of the safety rules and regulations, know the basics of sailing, how to pass through a lock and how to moor your boat.

All the info you need for sailing

Some recommended itineraries

Here are some ideas if you're looking for itineraries to explore some of the iconic sights along the Canal du Midi. 

From Lauragais (Avignonet-Lauragais, Montesquieu-Lauragais, Castelnaudary): from here you can either sail towards Toulouse and visit the Pink City, or towards the medieval town of Carcassonne. We highly recommend stopping at the Seuil de Naurouze, the highest point of the canal where water flows down from the Montagne Noire!  

From the central part of the canal (Carcassonne, Bram, Trèbes, Argens-Minervois): your journey will take you to Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, medieval towns whose heritage sites need no introduction. You could also head towards the Mediterranean as far as Marseillette, Béziers or even further if you are not pressed for time!  

From the east side of the canal (Somail, Béziers, Agde, Portiragnes): perfect for a first visit! From village to village, from Somail and its famous book shops, to the little markets of Capestang, this is where you'll witness the ancient charm of the Canal du Midi. Pass through the famous Fonseranes locks in Béziers and end your journey at Thau lagoon. 

There are plenty of departure points possible on the Canal du Midi. Don't hesitate to ask the boat hire company for advice about which route to take, depending on what you'd like to see!  

The Canal du Midi by bike: how long does it take to reach the Mediterranean?

Choose the route that suits your needs

If you would like to ride along a part of the Canal du Midi or even the entire route, there are plenty of itineraries to choose from, depending on what you're looking for.

Your choice will depend entirely on what you'd like to see and do! Which region would you like to explore by bike? Which points of interest do you want to see? Are you travelling alone or as a family? Do you want to cover the whole of the Canal du Midi route? How much time do you have?

Check out the itineraries that suit your needs.  

Cycling along the Canal du Midi

Some unmissable places

You don't need to cover the 240 km of the Canal du Midi all at once! You can divide your exploration up into several steps. Here are some ideas for cycling itineraries: 

- Toulouse - Montesquieu Lauragais (33 km) 
- Montesquieu Lauragais - Castelnaudary (32 km) 
- Castelnaudary - Carcassonne (40 ks) 
- Carcassonne - Homps (42 km) 
- Homps – Le Somail (20 km) 
- Le Somail – Capestang (23 km) 
- (towards the Canal de la Robine) Le - Somail – Narbonne (24 km) 
- (towards the Canal de la Robine)
- Narbonne – Port-La-Nouvelle (24 km) 
- Capestang – Béziers (21 km) 
- Béziers – Marseillan (33 km) 
- Marseillan – Sète (18 km)

There are so many cultural sites and engineering structures along the Canal du Midi, and you'll be crossing through diverse landscapes steeped in history.

Check out the must-sees 

The Canal du Midi on foot

A voyage accessible to all

Not many people take on the challenge, but in fact the 240 km of the Canal du Midi on foot is accessible to everyone. The route is a fairly flat one and it may be long but it is not challenging. This is a great way to really appreciate Pierre-Paul Riquet's masterpiece and the different landscapes all around. The duration of your walk will depend on your level of ability, your pace and the places you'd like to visit along the way.

This is a superb way to explore the Canal du Midi and embrace the unique atmosphere, as you explore the various regions, pass by locks and villages, and chat to passers by on their boats.

Hikes in the surrounding area

From the highlands of the Montagne Noire to the Minervois vineyards or the Santiago de Compostela routes, there are so many iconic hiking trails in the surrounding area of the Canal du Midi.

Here are some ideas for hikes near the Canal du Midi 

The Santiago de Compostela routes

Near Saint-Chinian, you can access the Santiago de Compostela routes from the Canal du Midi. 

These routes connect the Mediterranean and the routes leading into the Pyrenees, the Voie d’Arles, and Via Tolosana, crossing through some remarkable places along the way, such as Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, Montpellier, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Castres, Toulouse, l'Isle-Jourdain, Auch, St-Christaud, Morlaàs, Lacommande, and Oloron-Sainte-Marie.