Each year many people cycle between Bordeaux and Toulouse following the cycle path that runs alongside the Garonne Canal. Our friend Ronan did just that, in preparation for a longer tour that he has planned for this summer. Along the way he stopped in at the recently opened Café Vélo, which also offers a place to sleep. Here is his report :
We arrive into Agen over ‘Le Passage’, the bridge on which the canal passes over the Garrone at a height of 10m, a picturesque sight. The town centre is off towards the right, while just immediately left is the chateau d’eau, which in days gone by was the water treatment plant for the town. It has now reopened as a location to promote and encourage cycling in everyday life.
The building has been beautifully restored with a beautiful stone that almost glows from the illumination of the setting sun.
The interior still contains some of the original mechanical parts and we can think back to a time when the smooth running of these parts was vital to the town for accessing clean water.
Downstairs is a bike workshop, a library, and a comfortable reading area. Above is the café/restaurant, unfortunately closed on my visit, but the food available is local, organic and ethical.
Security at the café is good, with a code needed to enter the sleeping quarters, toilets, and the showers. The place has been recently renovated and everything is very clean. In the dormitory there are six sets of bunkbeds, allowing for up to twelve people to be accommodated any given night. It is advisable to call or send an email in advance, even a day ahead, to guarantee a bed (phone: +33 5 53 96 15 51 ; email: email@example.com ; reserve online : https://cafe-velo.net/#contactez-nous).
There are lockers for any valuables you want to securely store if heading into the town centre, which is well worth a stroll, or if you feel like doing more kms on the bike, a spin about. Les pruneaux d’Agen are well known around France, and you see prune trees for many kilometres along the canal. If you want a tasty sweet treat, you will find plenty of shops in town selling them. While I was there, I ate at an organic Pizzeria, and tried a very recent addition to the menu, with goats cheese, smoked ham, and Agen prunes; it worked very well in my humble opinion!
Meanwhile back at the café vélo, there are sheds to safely and securely store bikes, offering protection from potential thieves and unfavourable elements. Blankets, towels and locks can be rented from the Café Vélo, while a washing machine is available for quests to use, at a charge.
I had a pleasant rest at the Café Vélo and would recommend it to any cyclist making the journey along the Canal.
Tariffs – Accommodation for individual cyclists starts at €18 a night in the low season, to €20 in the high season, although there is a slight discount for groups.
Bed sheets – €2.50
Towel – €2.50
Scoop of Laundry detergent – €1.50
7th March to 16th June, Thursday-Sunday
17th June to 15th September, everyday
19th September to 2nd November, Thursday-Sunday
It might be possible to stay other nights, you can confirm by phone/email