Canal du Midi Travel - Getting There

Getting to the Canal do Midi, at Toulouse, Béziers, Setè, Narbonne, whether with or without your own bike, is going to involve one or more of:

See the Midi travel map for the principal options.  For more detailed information on route planning once in the region, here are Midi books and maps that we recommend.


Flying to Bordeaux from outside Europe, there are a number of possible arrival airports:

If you are flying from within Europe then the options include flying to:
  • Toulouse from Bremen, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lille, Heathrow, Gatwick, East Midlands, Bristol, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Lisbon etc, etc.
  • Carcassonne from Stansted, Bournemouth, East Midlands, Liverpool, Dublin, Cork, Billund, Eindhoven and Brussels
  • Beziers from Bristol, Luton, Southampton, Paris, Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Oslo
  • Montpelier from Strasbourg, Paris, Leeds, Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton, Frankfurt, Munich, Rotterdam Brussels and Copenhagen
  • Nimes from Brussels, Luton, Liverpool and Rome
  • Avignon  from Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter and London City

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that offers consistently low prices. 

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage (many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles) and your travel insurance.  We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane.  Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.
Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide.
Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up.   Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.



Bus and bike

Bus mapThis is one trip where the European Bike Express really gets to offer a perfect service, stopping at both Toulouse and Narbonne.  Use them to get you and your bike, via a series of routes from within the UK, to various parts of France and Spain.    Don't be put off by the thought of long distance coach travel, the Bike Express coaches are far more comfortable than most.


Taking the train from London or Paris is a slow route but a possible solution.  There are trains to Toulouse from Paris-Montparnasse taking 5 hours on the TGV.  

If you do decide to travel by rail then take advice from:
  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.
  • Travelling with a bike inside the UK is relatively easy, as most trains will carry bicycles as long as there is room (avoid commuting times and travelling in a large group of cyclists) and for free, but advance reservations may be required.
  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites and can be used to book Eurostar and trains onto the continent.
  • Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • Travel from the other airports identified above should be via SNCF, TER-SNCF (regional) or Eurostar.  The international section of trainline can manage these bookings.



  • Bikes are seldom allowed on TGV, Thalys or ICE trains unless they are in bags. Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long.  If you are tandem riders, you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Bordeaux.



  • You may also find this Bikes on Trains article by a MyBikeGuide contributor useful reading.



The map below gives you an idea of the route of the trains (blue line) and the suggested airports for getting to Bordeaux.








Travel Map


AirportsMidi key points of travel


  1. London (various)
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Paris
  4. Toulouse
  5. Beziers


Ferry ports


See Ferries below.


Bike route


The green marker.


Rail routes


Pale blue lines indicate the key railway lines.






There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  There are also good motorway links to southwest France but these sometimes get busy - see Crafty Bison.  Also, bear in mind the cost of motorway tolls.  


  • Eire 
    • Rosslaire (Q) to Le Havre (M) or Cherbourg (N)
  • South Eastern England
    • Dover (E) to Calais (L) or Dunkerque (L) 
    • Newhaven (E) to Dieppe (L)
    • Harwich to the Hook of Holland
    • Ramsgate (E) to Ostend (L)
  • South Western England  
    • Plymouth (I) to Roscoff (P)  
    • Portsmouth (F) to St Malo (O), Caen, Le Havre (M) and Cherbourg (N)
    • Poole (G) to Cherbourg (N) and St Malo (O)
    • Weymouth to St Malo (O)
  • Northern England
    • Hull (A)  to Zeebrugge (J) (overnight)
    • Hull (A) to Rotterdam (C) (overnight)

The Hull routes make a relaxing start to any holiday as the tedious car drive down through England is replaced by a night time ferry journey.

  • Eurostar
    • St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford to Belgium, Lille, Paris or Calais.




We like travelling by P&O and DFDS Seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price.  For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent 
If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel.


Driving Rules

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off.  If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see the EU safety transport rules.  At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are:

  • carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
  • carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs

It is mandatory in France (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher, first aid kit and pretty soon an electronic breathalyser with spare breath tubes.   

Both foreign registered cars and hire cars are targets for thieves so never leave anything, not even a jacket or jumper, visible in the car when you leave it.  If you have to leave your car unattended with bikes on it, eg for an overnight stop en route, you would do well to find a secure car park.

Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

For further details, click here.

Crafty Bison

The French have a great website to help you plan your journey, it's called Bison Futé (Crafty Bison) and it not only shows the state of traffic flows, but when road works are likely to cause disruption.  There's also advice on Le Grand Départ and Le Grand Retour which are the weekends around August when the French go on holiday en masse and fill up the roads. 

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