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Arles route - detour to Carcassonne/Canal du Midi

Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Santiago (2007)
Le Puy - Finisterra (2009)
#1
We'll be on the Arles route in October.

We do know that we want to make a detour to Carcassonne, and we're also considering integrating parts of the Canal du Midi, but there are soooooo many options, both for detour and to choose a different route after Carcassone. Any experience that could be shared in regards to Canal du Midi, the GR 78, 7 etc etc would be much appreciated. And yes, we do understand that the Canal du Midi route will be flat - it's why it's been picked;)




Original map can be found here

Thanks in advance:)
 

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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#2
We did this three years ago. We started in Sete, walked the Canal du Midi through Beziers and Carcassonne to Toulouse, and then picked up the route from Arles. My husband is fascinated by locks and the canal workings, and I wanted to see the canal before all the beautiful trees are cut down.

I'd have to say that it does become rather tedious. I was incredibly glad to get onto the Arles route at Toulouse, and thrilled with the first small hill! The Arles route is lovely. One or at most two days on the canal was enough for me. But my husband enjoyed it immensely. We have friends who have since walked it and the wife also thought it a bit tedious.

The path beside the Canal is known and well used by cyclists and we were constantly having to leap out of their way. We did not meet any other walkers. The folks holidaying on the boats were very friendly and we kept meeting the same people - the boats would get ahead of us and then we'd catch them up as they waited to go through a lock. We had lots of offers of lifts, which we refused on principal, until nearly at Toulouse when we had a lift for about two kilometres for fun. It was, we enjoyed their champagne....

The route meanders and winds backwards and forwards in loops, as canals do, and you cover a lot more ground that it seems just looking at the map. You could no doubt shorten the distances considerably by some road walking but we didn't - being committed types. I can't recall now how many days it took us. We averaged about 20km a day. It interests me that we didn't find ourselves walking any further than we would have done on hills. The days seemed quite long enough.

You do need to plan accommodation a bit; it tends to be spaced at biking distances rather than walking distances. The places we stayed in were universally excellent, but not cheap. We stayed almost exclusively in chambre d'hôtes, booking demi-pension and an evening meal whenever possible. Many of the villages are tiny, without even a shop. Sometimes we would instead have our main meal at lunchtime; there are some good restaurants that cater to the canal traffic. I happened to have a copy of the Michelin Guide on a smartphone and it was sometimes useful, as is a "Gites de France" app. We used a variety of sources to find accommodation. There is a Miam Miam guide for the canal, although ours was rather out of date. I also trawled the internet. We always booked a day ahead.

In Beziers and Carcasonne you have a fair walk from the canal to the interesting part of town - the canal goes through the commercial part of Carcasonne but of course we wanted to see the castle which is in the old quarter, a fair distance away. Absolutely a highlight - do allow yourself plenty of time in both towns (we took rest days in both). Investigate chambre d'hôtes in both places - I think they were much nicer and better value than the hotels.

Hope this is of some use.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#3
The route from Castres to Revel was really wonderful, and should not be detoured. Near Toulouse it seems to be getting a bit contrived, so we got on the canal. It is gorgeous, but as Kanga said, becomes monotonous in a day or so.

We went to Carcasonne by car on the way back. Very touristy, but amazing. I think it would be out of character with the trail.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Santiago (2007)
Le Puy - Finisterra (2009)
#4
Thank you both for your replies:) I do understand that walking along the canal can get a bit same'ish, and I think/hope I'm mentally prepared for that. Time will tell...


The route from Castres to Revel was really wonderful, and should not be detoured.
Any chance of expanding on this? Was it scenery, people, food and/or accomodation?

The route meanders and winds backwards and forwards in loops, as canals do, and you cover a lot more ground that it seems just looking at the map. You could no doubt shorten the distances considerably by some road walking but we didn't - being committed types.
Neither of us are seriously committed to a certain distance at this point, nor are we committed to only walking. The plan is to may be plan a day or 2 ahead, be as flexible as possible - and to me that means planning, as planning lets me know what my options are...

You do need to plan accommodation a bit; it tends to be spaced at biking distances rather than walking distances. The places we stayed in were universally excellent, but not cheap.
Hope you do not mind me asking... When you say that places were not cheap - how much are we talking? €40, 60- 80 per person? With or without breakfast/dinner?

Hope this is of some use.
It is, thank you:)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#5
I've been trying to find my old Miam Miam to look up the cost of some of the places where we stayed but alas, it seems to have disappeared. After discussing with my husband we think it cost us between 100€ and 130€ a day for two of us, which included quite luxurious accommodation and meals. We noticed a sharp drop in cost once we got onto the route de Arles.

This website could be useful http://www.tourismecanaldumidi.fr/chambres-hotes
 

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