Bellevue
Bellevue

x727 - Bikepacking in Hérault, south of France

Distance
Distance
600/1,070 km
Dénivelé
Total ascent
9,000/18,000 m
Portage
Hike
0.5 %
Altitude
High point
1 074 m
Asphalte
Asphalt
25 %
Singles
Singletrack
18 %

On the French Mediterranean coast, the Hérault department is unique, due to its geology, biodiversity, and topography. Taking a mountain bike tour of Hérault will guarantee constantly changing landscapes and beautiful sights. Between beaches and mountains, lagoons and lakes, garrigues and forests, the route traverses the Haut Languedoc and Grands Causses regional parks, the southern edge of the Cévennes and Larzac, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Two loops compose the x727, the external is the 727 (600 km/370 mi), the internal the i727 (470 km/300 mi). If you like ultra-long distances, you can start with a 727 and continue with the i727. If you prefer gravel, go for the g727 (727 km/450 mi).

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The 727 plays with the border of the Hérault department, mostly staying within the department, sometimes crossing the border of the neighboring departments (Aude, Tarn, Aveyron, Gard). The i727 is shorter but harder. Both loops minimize asphalt, favor singletracks and double track forest roads, cross picturesque villages, and offer breathtaking views.

x727 map
x727 map

On the x727, you will discover historical sites and grandiose panoramas. Traditional patisseries, bakeries, restaurants and cafes are hidden in almost all the villages crossed. Campsites and wild areas punctuate the route, as well as hotels and guest houses. During the warm days, it is often possible to swim in the sea, lagoons, lakes and rivers. Less than a day away from bustling French cities you will feel like an explorer in the middle of nowhere.

The x727 route is distributed under a free license by Thierry Crouzet. He maintains the route for the pleasure of bikepacking in his native region with his friends and to share his love for Hérault, one of the most picturesque departments in France.

Note: The route is called 727, or 7 to 7, because it originally started and looped back to Sète, a city whose name sounds exactly like the number 7 in French. The start and finish were moved a short distance away, to Poussan, a medieval village, which is more convenient for parking and offers many singletracks on its outskirts. In any case, you can see Sète floating above the Thau Lagoon, both at the start and at the finish. The city worth a visit.

Maps/GPX

Highlights

  • Medieval towns and villages: Bizes-en-Minervois, Caunes-Minervois, Minerve, Olargues, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert and Aigues-Mortes are among the most beautiful cities in France, with narrow streets, houses made of old stone, hidden squares.

  • Historical sites and monuments: Canal du Midi, abbey of Caunes, abbey of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Roman ruins of Ambrussum.

  • Grandiose panoramas: Vézoles Jump, Orb Valley, Vis Canyon, Buèges Valley, Salagou Lake (one of the most famous MTB spot in France).

  • Old singletracks: some of them date back to Roman times or the Middle Ages and are carved in the cliff.

  • Pézenas is a wonderful baroque town with excellent patisseries and bakeries. Don’t miss the petits pâtés.

  • La Saveltat sur Agout: famous for its fountain of eternal youth, its charcuteries and patisseries.

  • Escandorgue Forest: a magic place with ancient oaks and a sweeping view up to the Salagou Lake and the sea.

  • Larzac: It’s a plateau not flat at all, wild and mind-blowing, with a fantastic view on the Vis Canyon.

  • Wine: vineyards are all around the coastal area.

Must know

  • Getting there: Poussan is located near exit 33 on the A9 motorway, 11 km/7 mi from the SNCF train station in Sète (download the bike route). It is possible to park for free in the center of the village on the Promenade du 8 mai 1945, or in front of the sports complex, or in the parking lot of the collège Via Domitia. On Boulevard Riverain, bikepackers can meet at the Grand Café Beau Séjour (open from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm, closed on Monday and Sunday afternoons). Otherwise, the Saint-Roch train station in Montpellier is 6 km from the route, the new TGV Sud station and the airport are 6 km away. The Béziers train station is 8 km from Vendres or Lespignan which are on the route.

  • When to ride: The x727 is ridable all year round, except for a few winter days when the peaks of the Espinouse and the Larzac plateau are snow-covered. In summer, the heat can be suffocating, it is better to ride very early and very late. Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons. The second half of May is extraordinary.

  • The weather is generally good in the Hérault, with little precipitation, but we are not under the tropics. We had snow in early April 2022 in the mountains (very abnormal conditions). On the heights of the Espinouse and Larzac, temperatures can drop below freezing at night between October and April.

  • The rideability is good, but the route can’t be ridden at breakneck speed. There are many singletracks, with sometime roots and rocks, and technical sections. The asphalt roads are old or small. Count at least five days for each loop. Two weeks will be better for a complete x727.

  • To ride this route we recommend a mountain bike with a suspension fork and at least 2.0 tubeless tires.

  • Both loops are planned to be ridden clockwise, as the opposite direction would include many steep and long hike-a-bike sections.

  • Mobile coverage is good, even in the mountains.

  • Always have cash on hand, as some stores do not accept credit cards.

  • If you come across a herd of sheep on the Larzac or elsewhere, don’t walk right through it even if the trail leads you that way but instead navigate around the herd without disturbing the animals. Makes one happy shepherd.

Camping

  • Wild camping isn’t officially allowed in France but generally tolerated. People are open towards bikepackers, as long as you #leavenotrace and stay clear of protected and delicate areas. Many nice potential wild camping spots are located on the Google Map.

  • Accommodation: Being a touristic area, there are plenty of B&Bs, hotels and fully equipped camping areas all along the route.

Food/H20

  • Water isn’t an issue as you regularly come across small towns and villages, which all have public drinking fountains. Unless it’s clearly marked with a sign stating ‘NON POTABLE’ all water coming out of a tap is safe to drink. Due to the relatively hot climate, we recommend the capacity of carrying at least 1.5L on your bike. Fountains are located on the Google Map.

  • Food can be an issue in the north. On the 727, finding an open store between La Bastide Rouairoux (km 205) and Le Caylar (km 360) can be hard on Sundays, notably in the afternoon. In any case, there are no stores between La Salvetat (km 234) and Ceilhes (km 286). Carrying at least one day of food for this slow-going stretch is recomanded. Stores are located on the Google Map.

  • Most small and medium-sized supermarkets close during lunchtime. Those hours can vary, but usually tend to span from 12:00 – 4:00 PM. Shops in France are generally closed on Sunday afternoons.

Resources (thx Google translate)