Hiking along the via Garona

Do you have a love of hiking? This new trail is perfect for you. With its 170-kilometre route between Toulouse and Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, the Via Garona beckons walkers to come and discover the region, the banks of the Garonne river, and the forty-one municipalities dotted along its path. You’ll even be trailblazers. The route has only just been opened.

Start: Toulouse, in front of the Saint-Sernin Basilica.

The experienced walkers will then set off on a 170-kilometre walk: 22 kilometres per day, for around a week, until they reach the Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges Cathedral. Along the way, they’ll see some beautiful sights: the towns of Muret, Carbonne, Rieux-Volvestre and Saint-Gaudens. They’ll come across at least six historical monuments, as well as covered markets, museums, caves, ruins and gardens… They’ll discover tall willow trees, grey herons, egrets, and lush greenery, whilst also getting to know the Garonne river. At night, after a challenging day of walking, they’ll have the chance to set up their bivouac, pitch their tent, or make the most of the lodges which are gradually popping up in the villages along the route, such as in Castillon-de-Saint-Martory (€15 per night).

Other destinations: wherever takes your fancy

The others – the weekend strollers – will be happy to walk some of the route around Toulouse. The path is accessible to everyone. They’ll stop off in Cazères and visit the water sports centre for a little boat cruise along the river (€30). They’ll enjoy a picnic on the banks of the Garonne, or find somewhere for a bite to eat along the way: why not try the Domaine de la Terrasse in Carbonne? They’ll visit the Bonnefont Abbey (€3 for a guided tour, Wednesdays to Sundays from 2pm to 6pm), with its medieval-style garden, and its exhibitions… They’ll end up under the shade of the parasols in the newly-opened bar, sipping a fresh juice or a local craft beer.

Beware: preparation is key

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or an amateur walker, be prepared before setting off. To help with this, visit the Haute-Garonne website: you’ll find the right routes to take, the things to see and do during each stage of your walk, and the accommodation and restaurant options along your journey. So, just throw on your shoes, and stay close to the river banks. Once you’re on the path, follow the markers – they’ll keep you on the right track.

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