the official France walkers assoc site is here with contact info
For Toulouse area contact bottom side
Hope it helps, its a beautiful region.
Just outside the Matabiau train station in Toulouse is the Canal du Midi -- a UNESCO heritage site spanning 240kms from Toulouse to l'étang de Thau with 63 locks (écluses).
Only a short distance North West of the station is where the canal actually begins -- at the Port de Bassin de L'Embouchure. There, the three bridges (Des Ponts Jumeaux) actually cross three canals: the Canals du Midi, Latéral and Brienne.
It is possible to cycle the Canal du Midi from Toulouse to Marseillan (using cycle paths which at one time were the towpaths of the canal) . I've only cycle the first ~50km from Toulouse to the small town of Labastide d'Anjou near the Océan lock (a little south of the resort? area of Port Lauragais).
In 2011, the dedicated bicycle / foot path is on the South bank of the Canal while in Toulouse itself. It is well paved and isolated from automobile traffic. At the outskirts of the city, the path is a wide, very smooth, shaded path with lovely greenery and scenery all around you -- dotted every so often by a small bridge and/or lock. (Many locals drive to a nearby lock and cycle sections of the canal before having a picnic.)
Prior to my trip, I've found several books on cycling the waterways of France -- sometimes with contradictory advice (since cycle paths are continually being upgraded). In 2011, the two best sources seem to be Philippe Calas and Declan Lyons. Calas has a website www.canalmidi.com but his book is from 2001 whereas Lyons' book is more current (being published in 2009 and has easy to follow colour-coded maps of the cycle path). For this first section, the path is fairly obvious but previewing the map and jotting the names of the locks would be helpful.
I would not currently (2011) recommend the section immediately after lock Océan and the town of Castelnaudary. The path there is in very poor condition -- consisting of clay and puddles and is bumpy due to rocks and exposed tree roots. Not to mention that one of the possible paths is right next to the water. In the rain, I had visions of me skidding right into the Canal. :)
Perhaps, a good trip would be to cycle 20kms or less out from the train station and then back again. In 2011, there was a bike rental store (Hotel du Vélo?) near the train station -- on the road after crossing the canal (Blvd Bon Repos -- left of the intersection). There was also a bicycle store (with repair shop) -- Vélo Station -- on the same road (but a different name at 21 blvd Matabiau) in the direction of the bridges mentioned earlier.
Pierre-Paul Riquet, a French engineer, decided to bring water to the highest part of the future "Canal du Midi" in order for it to run down on both sides. He traveled the lenght and breadth of the "Montagne Noire" mountain. He planned to harness it's overflowing torrents and streams and forcibly channeled them into the Sor river. At Naurouze, Pierre-Paul Riquet showed how the fountain flows down toward the Atlantic or the Mediterranean. Coming from "Saint Ferreol" Lake, water from the Montagne Noire arrives at the "Seuil de Naurouze", highest point of the Canal du Midi and parting place where the rivers flee respectively towards the Mediterranean or the Ocean.
The "Canal du Midi", a man made waterway classified in 1996 as world heritage by the U.N.E.S.C.O., was completed in 1667 and officially opened to shipping in 1681. In memory of its creator, Pierre Paul Riquet, an obelisk was raised at the watershed sill. The Canal du Midi is 240km long in southern France, linking the Garonne River to the Mediterranean Sea, between Toulouse and the Mediterranean port of Sète, which was created for the canal.
In the dry Aude department climat the "Montagne Noire" is the cradle of the canal's water supply system. The water irrigates the Lauragais plains and then the Corbières and Minervois country sides.
A variety of trees line the banks of the Canal against the hot summer sunshine. For people in search of calm and peaceful time, this is great place for a relaxing vacation.
Toulouse makes a great base for many adventures. We visited the Grotte de Niaux, and deep under the Pyranees we saw ancient paintings of bison & horses.
Do not attempt to visit the Grotte de Niaux unless you have booked the cave tour well in advance: you won't get a place. Fax-booking-form at: www.ariege.com/niaux (Tel: (33) 05 61 05 88 37): you'll get prompt reply- it is run most efficiently. Tours are in French, except for a few in the summer.
We took the train from the main station in Toulouse all the way to Tarascon - a journey of about an hour twenty minutes. Soon the Pyranees rise around you and you pass through the beautiful town of Foix.
So there we were: at Tarascon station, with no idea of whether there would be a bus on the village of Niaux and its cave. ...
Indeed there wasn't : it was Sunday. The village of Niaux is abot 5 or 6 kilometres from Tarascon - walkeable. We'd only gone about 200 metres when we were offered a lift. (Same thing happened on the way home - thank you, nice French people!)
Once at the village, it was a 20 minute climb (head for the church, turn left at sign) up a paved road to the cave itself. Price 9.40euros for adult, 5.70 euros kids: advance booking.
We travelled a kilometre underground, along what looks like a petrified underground beach. Our guide was excellent and we each carried a flashlight. Slippery & steep - and occasionally narrow - you need good shoes and to be relatively fit.
Deep inside, you see the rock art: vivid depictions of horses, bison and deer - how they might have looked in flickering torchlight - how they might seem to move.... how shapes & cracks in the rock might suggest the contours of animals. We noticed how the drawings seemed to be in the parts of the cave with the deepest echoes.
The whole journey would be easier if you hired a car in Toulouse - but then not such an adventure!
I should add that there is an 'Auberge' in the village of Niaux. A soft drinks machine at the cave itself but no food : take a picnic.
Talairan: park by the 19th C washing pool. Inaugurated 14th July 1885. The pool is divided into three basins - the first for very dirty clothes, the middle, and larger, for the just ordinarily dirty, the last for rinsing.
Lagrasse - visit the centre of the village to see the ancient market hall. The village has mediaeval streets & unexpected ancient doors. A covered ancient central market is of stone columns with a wooden roof. The roof has carved wooden capitals.
To one side outside a house a birdcage hangs - inside a toy parrot. Cobbled streets and craft shops with the shop signs nicely done in iron. The old bridge is beautifully curved over the river and gives vista of the abbey beyond which is lovely in the sun. A truly old town. It seems popular with the English and one can see why. The forested hills rise behind dark green in the sun & from the square the green sycamores form a lightness that dapples the street.
The Chateaux de Lastours: a belvedere gives a view across. Unfortunately the weather was so poor when we were there the places looked dull, but they are worth seeing. The photo looked nothing and did not do them justice. The 'road' takes two and a half hours to walk. This winding path is, in fact, the mediaeval main road, which wound its way to central France. A Cathar stronghold it is popular for its son et lumiere. Reached by broom-flowering winding road past old industrial parts of mines it is near the gold mines of Saligny.
Climbing the famous tour de france mountains 'Coll d´Aspin':1450m and 'Coll du Tourmalet':2115m wasn´t exactly a piece of cake. Is this supposed to be vacation?? I did the Tourmalet in one rush but it did take me about 1 1/2 hours to pass all 17km! I guess the pro´s could do it twice as fast.
However, after all suffering it is gives tremendous satisfaction to see the top approaching. We made it!
What ALBI is very well known for is the birthplace of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec whose artwork includes depiction of Paris' prostitutes and cabaret. His birth home is off-limits but there is a sign outside on the wall. There is also a museum if you're hungry for more- Musée Toulouse-Lautrec north side of the cathdral.
bagnères-de-luchon,in the pyrénées,near the spanish border,is a thermal resort.It is a very beautiful and romantic little town;there is a direct train from toulouse to saint-gaudens,saint-martory,or capvern(direction:tarbes,lourdes,pau,bayonne,irun).Then,you have a bus.
picture:castle of peyrepertuse,famous because of the albigeois
The Ariane 5 is on its launch pad. It is in made
in his life-size, so it´s very impressive from every
corner of the Park.
There´s always the Mir Space Station in life-size.
It´s possible to go inside and to be an astronaut
for a while.......it´s better and easy in american
films than real life in the space!!!
No!!! this isn´t a sky scraper, and we aren´t in
N.Y.....Yes, this seems an Arianne, and we are in
the Space City, near Toulouse.
Many temporary exhibits, Planetarium, audiovisuals shows, interactive animations will help you to spend
a very nice day.
There are few places very interesting not far from
this city. One and perhaps a place where you can
spend one or more days is the city of Albi.
Albí was the center of a great a bloody war in the
XIII century and the war took the name of the city.
Now is one of the most interesting cities of France. From the other side of the river Tarn, the
catedral and the surrounding buildings shines in red
color when the sun set.
Albí is such interesting than will need one page
only to explane all you can see.
Don´t forget to spend one or more days in the city!!
Not far, only half an hour going to the N 112 you can
visit the city of Castres, another interesting place
to stay for a while.
Perhaps you will not find beatiful. I know it´s a
little village. It´s not in the map, but everibody
must visit its lovely place, La Place du Général-Leclerc. How many beauty in such a little place!!!.
It´s all surrounded by old, very old houses, with
many details to spend a rich afternoon sitting on some
coffe-bar, enjoying the life.....Oh!!this is a paceful
place named MIREPOIX, not far from the motorway between Toulouse and Carcassonne.
Those beatiful houses, suspended over the river Agout,
are something tipical from a nice place to spend some
time, walking along the streets, near the river, and
watching every old restaured house. I´m talking about
the city of CASTRES, not far from Toulouse.