Muret to Villefranche-de-Lauragais – 58km
(D15a, D12, D817, D42, N20, D120)
Cycling today was a joy! Last evening we made a decision to try to cycle as much of the Canal du Midi as possible, which meant riding into the outskirts of Toulouse. After Muret, we had a quiet ride through villages on the banks of the Garonne, much of it on bike paths. We then had about 6km of, as Lois describes, vomit-inducing, shoulder-less cycling on the very busy Route d’Espana. Once inToulouse, we were able to take advantage of separate bike paths and bike lanes all the way to the Canal. The infrastructure was much appreciated.
We had seen the entrance to the Canal Latéral de la Garonne on a wine walking tour near Bordeaux in 2009. This canal was joined to the Canal du Midi (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the 1800’s. We had looked forward to perhaps travelling along these waterways in the future.
After Paul did some maintainance on a brake lever, we joined many cyclists, runners and walkers on the wide smooth path. It was paved all the way and shaded by large plane trees. There were a number of large canal boats moored at various places, but very little traffic on the water. The path seemed flat, but it does gradually ascend, via the locks, until the water changes direction and descends towards the Mediterranean at Seuil de Naurouze. We were surprised to read that that this feat of engineering was opened in 1692.
Arriving in Villefranche-de-Lauragais, we walked around the town, picking up some supplies. Our hotel – Hôtel and Restaurant du Lauragais – is known for its “royal cassoulet”, made with beans, homemade sausage and duck leg confit. When asked whether it is possible to have a vegetarian version, we were told in no uncertain terms that the meat is “obligatoire”! The fish dishes were excellent!
We will be back on the Canal in the morning.