Cycling in the Haute-Garonne
With your family on the cycle path, on cycle routes or in the Central Pyrenees if you’re an experienced cyclist, biking is an original and ecological way to explore the Haute-Garonne.
Cycling for all
The Haute-Garonne has always been cycle-friendly and is geared to the bike !
Almost 190 kilometres of cycle-friendly route are now open (Canal des Deux Mers “green way” cycle path, the Garonne cycle route from Carbonne to Cierp-Gaud) enabling everyone, families, children, sports cyclists or amateurs, to take good, long rides in complete safety. Some sections are completely traffic free, without any motorised form of transport at all. Others are set up as shared routes providing an extreme level of security for excursions or family outings.
THE “GREEN WAY” CYCLE PATH
From Saint-Rustice to Toulouse
Set up beside the prolongation of the Canal du Midi, the “green way” cycle path presents no major difficulty and is therefore open to all types of cyclist. Not far away, the Frontonnais vineyards cover the slopes and at Castelnau-d’Estrétefonds, gateway to the vineyard, a wine road takes the visitor to explore the villages and the fine products of the estates and cellars. On the way, structures such as the canal-bridge over the Hers make an impression thanks to their ingenious construction. In Bruguières, the church’s museum possesses liturgical and archaeological treasures, including a 14th C. polychrome statue depicting Our Lady of Grace — to which pilgrimage is made — and other items.
From Toulouse to Port-Lauragais
Running along the former towpath of the Canal du Midi which enabled draught animals to tow a boat or a barge by cable, this cycle path crosses the « Pays de Cocagne ». It was here, in this verdant countryside dotted with bastides and picturesque villages typical of the South West, that “pastel”, the source of wealth, was once cultivated. The Canal du Midi itself also contributed to the expansion of this whole area by providing an efficient way to transport goods. Nowadays, it is used for the purposes of tourism only, and boat trips can be made from the Renneville lock to Port-Lauragais. This pleasure boating port is also home to the Maison de la Haute-Garonne and the exhibition devoted to the Canal du Midi.
The Rigole de la Plaine path
This shady itinerary winds along by the Rigole de la Plaine. This little man-made canal starts in the Montagne Noire and enables water from springs and from Saint-Ferréol Lake to be brought to feed the Canal du Midi. It empties into it at the Seuil de Naurouze, the stretch at the watershed between the Garonne and Aude basins. From this path, there are two fine viewpoints over the surrounding countryside. Along the way, you mustn’t miss Saint-Ferréol Lake, the Museum & Gardens of the Canal du Midi, the Lenclas Lake and Revel, a lovely mediaeval bastide reputed for the high-quality furniture made there.
The Garonne itinerary
Following the course of the Garonne, this itinerary using roads and a cycle path links the Pyrenees to the Toulouse plain. Needless to say, in the upper reaches the water is turbulent down as far as Saint-Gaudens, then it grows calmer, providing beneficial freshness in summer. There are several possible access points to this cycle route along the whole length of the itinerary, which provides some special moments : white water sports, a visit to the impressive mediaeval village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges and to Saint-Gaudens, with its “ochre path”, a fascinating tour. You can also visit Saint-Martory, with its mediaeval houses, its bridge with three arches, the pottery-making village of Martres-Tolosane and the Angonia museum, plus the bastides of Rieux-Volvestre and Montesquieu-Volvestre if you follow the Arize valley.
The locks on the Canal Latéral
On the Canal Latéral— also called the Canal de Garonne — the locks have completely parallel side walls, in contrast to the Canal du Midi locks which are oval in shape. Amongst the latter, the double lock of Le Sanglier in Ayguesvives or the Négra lock in the commune of Montesquieu-Lauragais with its little port and chapel, are worth stopping to look at.
The canal bridge over the Hers
Near the village of Villefranche-de-Lauragais, this canal bridge carrying the Canal du Midi over an obstacle was designed by Jean-Polycarpe Maguès, engineer in chief of the Canal du Midi and completed in 1806.
The Bruguières church museum
As well as the statue of Our Lady of Grace, the museum possesses a Merovingian sarcophagus, a polished stone axe 4 000 years old, a 300 000 year old hatchet, clothes, the church’s old clock, a a 17th C. book about the history of the village.
Église de Bruguières – Tel. : 05 62 22 99 33.
The village of Saint-Rome
2 kilometres from the Canal du Midi, near Villefranche-de-Lauragais, the village of Saint-Rome presents an unusual silhouette ! In the 19th C., the Count de la Panouse, an inveterate traveller born in Toulouse who resided at the Court of the Queen of England, decided that, on this estate, he would build houses that were all different and would remind him of those he had seen on his numerous travels. On barely 300 hectares, he managed to do it : the village provides a compact overview of architectural styles from all over the world.
The Gaulish Village
A mad human adventure, the construction of this Gaulish village gaulois is founded on the archaeological reconstitution of about twenty buildings based on the latest research and scientific data. Covering 6 hectares, all the crafts are represented and are practised exactly as they were, when the Volques Tectosages used to live in the Toulouse area.
Le Village Gaulois – L’Archéosite – La Chaussée – 31310 Rieux-Volvestre – Tel : 05 61 87 16 38. village-gaulois.org
Every year, more and more tourists keen on cycling attempt the major “cols” (passes) of the Central Pyrenees . The Conseil départemental de la Haute-Garonne has installed road signs giving the altitude of the col and the height difference. This enables everyone to work out just how much effort they need to make! The reward comes afterwards, and a souvenir photo will immortalise the exploit.
Since 1910, some of the Tour de France’s greatest moments have occurred in these mountains renowned for their difficult cols, particularly in the Haute-Garonne : Le Port (local name for the Col de Balès (1 755 m), the Col des Ares (797 m), the Col de Buret (618 m), the Col de Menté (1 349 m), the Col du Portet d’Aspet (1 069 m), the Col du Portillon (1 293 m), the Col de Peyresourde (1 569 m), the Col de la Clin (1 249 m), the Col de Larrieu (704 m), and the Col d’Artigascou (1 351 m).
It is daft to climb a hill on a bicycle when you only have to turn round in order to go downwards.