Your long-distance walk along the Midi Canal begins in Toulouse, the fourth largest city in France, and heads south-east through a number of French country villages, towns and cities until you reach your destination of Carcassonne and its beautifully preserved medieval city.
Along the way, the canal is a constant, peaceful and serene feature. Boat traffic moving through the locks provides an interesting distraction and every now and then, the canal passes over the top of the freeway or another river and reminds us what an engineering masterpiece it is. At other times, when there is no-one else in sight, it is easy to let your mind drift back three hundred years, and imagine horses plodding along the same towpath, pulling their barges behind them.
The towns you may choose to stay in for the night are pleasant. In most cases, the church is the architectural highlight, but these will usually be locked during the week, so there is little point in detouring off the canal except to sleep or if you need supplies.
There are surprisingly few cafés located on the canal, but those that do exist offer beautiful locations to relax and watch the passing boat traffic.
Today, the sixty-five kilometre (forty-mile) stretch from Toulouse to Castelnaudary offers an easy three-day walk. At this point of your walk, you may like to stop and catch the train back to Toulouse or on to Carcassonne. Alternatively, you can rent a boat in Castelnaudary and sail the remaining 180 kilometres (112 miles) to the Mediterranean Sea. If you continue on foot, a comfortable, two-day walk will take you into Carcassonne.
The path from Toulouse to Avignonet-Lauragais is bitumen, and so flat you could almost drag your suitcase along behind you. After Avignonet-Lauragais, the path changes to dirt (with patches of gravel and the odd tree root) but is still an exceptionally easy walk.
The other advantage that the canal offers is that it is virtually impossible to get lost—at least, not until you venture off the path in search of your accommodation for the night (which is exactly why the guidebook provides directions to and from the canal for each town)!
Follow my suggested itinerary along the Midi Canal from Toulouse to Carcassonne from the comfort of your armchair 🙂
Day 3: Renneville to Castelnaudary
Day 4: Castelnaudary to Alzonne
Day 5: Alzonne to Carcassonne