Cycling along the Canal du Garonne Cycling along the Canal du Garonne

French bike tours fit for rugby

Rugby enthusiasts in France next year can experience the Canal Entre Deux Mers between games, reports Jill Grant of A Walker’s World and Cycling Europe. 

The first game kicks off in Paris on 8 September after which fans will be heading south to the city of Toulouse to catch the next NZ game on 15 September. 

‘That’s a gap of six days to fill with something totally French and off the beaten track,’ says Grant.   

‘Just over two hours by fast train from Paris is Bordeaux and its famous wine region is where the 12-day, self-guided bike tour of the UNESCO World Heritage, Canal Entre Deux Mers begins,’ she adds.

This is a combination of the Canal de Garonne and the Canal du Midi which flows through vineyards, wheat fields and villages. Conveniently located half way and six days into the tour is Toulouse, so bikers arrive the night before the game.  An extra day can be added here as this is an independent and flexible tour. 

After New Zealand has played its Toulouse game, the bike tour continues on and off the Canal du Midi over the next six days to arrive in the port of Sete on the Mediterranean coast.

The grade is moderate to energetic and ebikes can be hired. Accommodation is in a choice of two, three and four-star hotels, mostly in little country towns which emphasise the French local way of life. The cost for 11 nights, 12 days is from around $3,800 plus bike hire and extra nights in Toulouse.

In the vicinity of Lyon, where there are games on 29 September and 5 October, is the Rhone Bike Path which starts in Geneva Switzerland, has a half way point of Lyon and finishes in Orange in Provence. This is an easier grade.

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