Toulouse is the perfect place to start a cycling trip. It has an international airport, and a TGV (high speed train) station which connects to other major cities.
Ride east from Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea or west to Bordeaux
The Canal du Midi starts in Toulouse (the train station is right next to it). This canal is one part of the Canal des Deux Mers (Le Canal Latéral à la Garonne and Le Canal du Midi), and takes you to the eastern side of Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea via Carcassonne and Beziers. The bike path ends in Sete near Montpellier, a great location as you can enjoy an end-of-trip celebratory swim!
If you ride west of Toulouse on the Canal Latéral à la Garonne, you will pass several cities including Moissac (Tarn-et-Garonne), Agen (Lot-et-Garonne), Buzet-sur-Baïse (Lot-et-Garonne), La Réole (Gironde), Langon, Sauternes and Bordeaux.
Gate to the Pyrenees mountains
After renting your bikes in Toulouse, you can head toward the Pyrenees to ride the most famous climbs of the Tour de France. Here are three cycling-friendly towns from which you can establish your base to ride loops:
Argeles-Gazost: from here you have access to the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Soulor, Hautacam, Luz-Ardiden, Col des Tentes, Gavarnie, Cauterets, Spandelle and many more.
Arreau: Loops can be made to climb le col d’Aspin, Peyresourde, Pla d’Adet, la Hourquette d’Ancizan, col du Portet
Bagnère-de-Luchon: the town connects several climbs including: Peyresourde, Port de Bales, Col du Portillon (which leads you to Spain), Superbagnères, Hospices de France, Col d’Ares, Col du Menté and Portet-d’Aspet.
Tarn and beyond
This rural area is very scenic and has little car traffic as soon as you leave the towns and start exploring the rural winding roads. The Tour de France is staged on these roads almost every year but Tarn’s roads are suitable for riders of all levels of ability. The main towns are Gaillac and Albi, which offer plenty of restaurant and accommodation options. Each is an ideal location to base yourself during your trip.
For those who prefer longer rides, the Tarn department borders the Tarn-et-Garonne, where you can find the beautiful villages of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val and Najac. Continue to the Aveyron départment where you can ride the Gorges du Tarn around Millau. The Lot and the Dordogne are also within reach. Sarlat is the gateway to the Perigord and Cahors region and is the starting point for a trip to the unmissable Saint-Cirq-Lapopie!