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The first kilometer of the Canal Du Midi bike path east of Castelnaudary is paved. Starting around Ecluse de Gay, the bike path is unpaved again.
Km 1.0 Use the first available bridge to cross over to the north bank of the Canal Du Midi. This bridge is still in Castelnaudary, and is road D623. Continue cycling along the north side of the Canal Du Midi until you reach Carcassonne.
Le Grand Bassin The Grand Bassin is the largest body of open water along the Canal du Midi. It covers some 7 hectares (18 acres) which is the same size as the Cite of Carcassonne. Once a scene of intense economic activity (grain export), it is now a major pleasure port used by tourist craft. It holds the water reserve for the four locks of Saint-Roche. The basin is exposed to considerable winds, historically even blowing horses and men into the water (and drowning some of them). A windbreak called Cybele Island (French: Ile de la Cybelle) was built in 1754 and a tavern was situated on this island up to the 1940’s. The original Canal Du Midi plans did not include passing through Castelnaudary. But after payment of 30000 Livres by the city and the diocese Saint-Papoul, the original plans were modified allowing Castelnaudary to become the most important port of the Canal Du Midi. The Canal Du Midi was officially inaugurated here, on May 19, 1681. Free WIFI is available along the harbor.
Ecluse de Saint Roch, 1678, 4 locks. Km 65.909 Height 9.42 m. First overnight rest stop for the passengers on the ancient mail-boat. These passengers would stay in rooms located close to the lock on the edge of the Grand Bassin. On the left bank is the ancient restaurant where the mail-boat passengers would eat their dinner. These passengers would walk their luggage down to the bottom of the lock, and board another mail-boat to continue their trip the next day. The mail-boat itself did not go through the locks. Once again, at this mail-boat stop there is also a small chapel. The chapel, however, is now located on private land and can thus no longer be visited. Mills were situated on the other side of the lock, but are now abandoned and in ruins. It is interesting to note that the mill was operational until 1990 however. There also used to be a horse stable, where the horses pulling the boats would spend the night.
Ecluse de Gay, 1678, double lock. Km 67.442 Height 5.23 m. Next to this lock there used to be a mill, dating from the 18th century. The mill has disappeared but the water channel that used to power this mill is still visible right next to the lock.
Ecluse du Vivier, 1679, triple lock. Km 69.095 Height 7.23 m. Once again, a mill was located here, on the right bank.
Ecluse de Guillermin, 1678, single lock. Km 69.513 Height 2.83 m.
Ecluse de Saint Sernin, 1678, single lock. Km 70.096 Height 2.46 m.
Cale de dérivation du bief de Roc, small wall created to capture rain water to feed the Canal Du Midi. The wall prevents silt to flow into the canal. Only clean water can flow over the top of the wall.
Ecluse de Guerre, 1678, single lock. Km 71.033 Height 2.4 m.
Ecluse de La Peyruque, 1678, single lock. Km 72.127 Height 2.02 m. Lock keeper sells local products such as honey and bread. Also drinks and ice cream. Lock was featured on a French stamp in 2013.
Ecluse de La Criminelle, 1678, single lock. Km 72.625 Height 3.11 m. Bike path ends and you will have to join road for about 600 meters until you reach the next lock, Ecluse du Treboul.
Every year during summer, on Thursday evening from 6:30PM to 11PM there is an evening market in or close to Castelnaudary. They move it to a different village each year, which makes finding it a bit complicated. Best to ask at the local tourist office when you are there.
Castelnaudary also has the yearly "fete du cassoulet" the last week of August. For exact dates check here: https://www.fete-du-cassoulet.com/
Castelnaudary has a market every Monday morning on Place de Verdun. From 8AM to 1PM.
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