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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful compact guide, 9 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Cycling the Canal Du Midi: Across Southern France from Toulouse to Syte: Across Southern France from Toulouse to Sète (Cicerone Guides) (Paperback)
Used this when cycling the Canal du Midi in Sept 2012, as last stage in a trip that started in Brittany. Having a guide book is essential as this canal path is very poor compared with others in France especially the Nante-Brest canal. There is very little on route signing, and the guide book is quite right to describe substantial sections of the tow path as messy and difficult, due to tree roots, potholes and a general lack of attention. The author is clearly an enthusiast for the canal and knowledgable about its history and context. However we felt he could do more in the headline introduction to warn that, although flat, it is not an easy ride suitable for eg cycling novices or families with trailers.
The guide worked well for route planning with sufficient detail about the overall nature of the track, facilities in nearby towns, places of interest etc. It was fairly good for use en route, with details of when to cross to the other bank, warnings of particularly neglected patches etc, although these occasionally did not match the latest position. The accommodation list is not comprehensive, but a useful back up to online booking sites.
The maps are not at a great level of detail but are usable. The book interweaves the route on the canal and a number of excursions (which we did not try). These are differentiated by shading, but sometimes hard to pick out in a hurry. Appendices with cycling glossary in French and list of cycle shops were helpful.
We cycled west to east, which is the direction which the guide assumes. It would need more careful reading for the opposite direction, and the suggested diversion around Agde would be difficult to follow. (However this may no longer be needed.)
It was reassuring that Cicerone advise looking at their website for updates. However this was not very helpful in practice. In Sept 2012 the update was dated Nov 2011 and said that major changes (for the better) were being made to the Sete end of the route. These had been completed by the time we arrived, and reassurance on this would have been helpful.
The compact size of the book is helpful for touring, though a tradeoff against readibility on the move. As the guide recommends, buying an area map as well is sensible back up - particularly as works to remove diseased plane trees mean some temporary diversions, some of which were poorly signed.
In summary - if you really want to cycle this canal, a useful book to take. If you just want to cycle on a French canal, look elsewhere.
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