France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Enjoying the Canal du Midi, France
Traveling on or near the Canal du Midi is a delight!




The Canal du Midi, between Toulouse and Sète, offers many opportunities for recreation and tourism.

You can rent a canal boat or barge and pilot it yourself, moving at a leisurely pace along the canal, stopping when you see something interesting to visit, and maneuvering through some of the many and scenic locks (called écluse in French). Some are very old, and many are still operated by a lock keeper; others are automatic. All offer the experience of rising and falling with the water level as you move along the canal.

Companies such as locaboat and leboat rent boats for excursions of four days to two weeks.

If you're not traveling by boat/barge but want to spend a little time on the water, take a short excursion. Trips range from a couple of hours to a full day, and some include gourmet meals. You can find a choice of options in Carcassonne, Castelnaudary, Toulouse, Narbonne, and other spots along the Canal du Midi.

Enjoy the thousands of plane trees that line the canal—some say as many as 40,000 of them! The trees were originally planted to stabilize the sides of the canal. Today they provide welcome shade and beautiful vistas, with their regular spacing and majestic size creating a colonnade.

You can rent bikes and ride along the canal. Or rent some to take on the boat, and when you want a break from the water, enjoy cycling along the lovely paths. There are even organized bicycling and canal barge cruises.

Along the way there are several particularly interesting spots to visit:

Toulouse is the 5th largest city in France, known for its pink brick and its long and interesting history. The Garonne River passes through Toulouse, as does the Canal du Midi. More...

Seuil de Naurouze is a lovely spot with locks and a monument to Pierre Paul Riquet, the builder of the canal. More...

Castelnaudary is a small town that is home to the Grand Bassin, the largest body of open water on the Canal du Midi.

Boats on the Canal du Midi, Castelnaudary, France

Castelnaudary is a popular spot for lunch or an overnight break, since it's also the home of cassoulet, a wonderfully rich bean and meat stew. More...

The walled city of Carcassone provides another opportunity to enjoy the Canal du Midi and take in some serious sightseeing by visiting its wonderful château. The Canal du Midi actually passes through the lower part of the town of Carcassonne, known as La Bastide, but it's just a short walk (up) to La Cité, the fortress. More...

If you're driving from Toulouse to Carcassone or on to Narbonne and Sète, at times the road will parallel the canal. Where the canal is a bit farther away from the road, you'll see occasional signs indicating where there are locks (écluse). Turn off onto the small country roads and explore another part of the Canal du Midi.

Canal Barge Cruises

Bike & Barge Cruises

About Canal du Midi

Seuil de Naurouze

Canal des Deux Mers



About Languedoc

About Toulouse

About Pyrénées region



Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Boat in a lock on the Canal du Midi, France

Above, A boat going through a lock on the Canal du Midi.

Below, Plane trees along the Canal du Midi.


Trees, Canal du Midi, France

Excursion boat, Canal du Midi, France

Above, Excursion boat on the Canal du Midi.

Below, Two boats in the lock at the same time in Carcassonne.

Two boats in the lock at Carcassonne, France

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