MIDI-PYRENEES

at the heart of the pyrenees

T

he Midi-Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrenees) region is in the south of France, and, as its name suggests, part of and bordering the magnificent Pyrenees mountain ranges. It is flanked, east and west by Languedoc-Roussillon and Aquitaine, and to the north by Limousin and the Auvergne.


DEPARTMENTS (AND CAPITALS)

09 Ariège (Foix); 12 Aveyron (Rodez); 31 Haute Garonne (Toulouse); 32 Gers (Auch); 46 Lot (Cahors); 65 Hautes-Pyrénées (Tarbes); 81 Tarn (Albi); 82 Tarn-et-Garonne (Montauban).




The most remarkable feature of the Midi-Pyrenees is its amazing diversity. Bordered in the south by the Pyrenees, a kind of natural sleeping policeman between France and Spain, where rugged mountains soar to more than 10,000 feet, the landscapes ease northwards across the fertile scenery of Haute-Garonne to Gers and the Lot valley.

Mountains, rather less in stature, appear again, in Aveyron in the north-west, where the rippling Roussillon heights of the volcanic Aubrac mountains are popular with skiers, snowboarders and snow-shoers, as well as providing summertime grazing pastures for some of the finest cattle in France, which in turn produce the milk for the famed Roquefort cheeses.

From the Aubrac to the undulating landscape of the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses in the south, Aveyron is a hummocky place of contrasts and many stories. In the west lie a group of fortified medieval communities designed for defence, law and order – bastides. In the south-east the towns and villages have strong links with the Knights Templar. In the centre, lies the great cathedral city of Rodez from which roads splay out like the spokes of a wheel leading to all parts of the département.

There is a popular misconception that to see chateaux you need to go to the Loire. While that is certainly true, the Loire by no means has a monopoly on all things chateau-esque. The Midi-Pyrenees can boast no fewer than 16 castles or stately homes. Throw in a dozen or more excellent museums, like the fabulous new Toulouse Lautrec Museum in Albi; numerous parks and gardens, such as the Pyrenean Animal Park in Argelès-Gazoste, where you can spend a night with wolves; 10 grottoes and subterranean sites and almost 50 picturesque towns and villages, including many that rank among the 'Most Beautiful Villages in France', and suddenly the realisation dawns that this region is one of the most outstanding and touristically versatile in France.



places you won't want to miss

It would be a pity to come to Midi-Pyrénées only to visit the 'Must See' sites, but equally it would be a shame to come and miss them!

There are unmissable towns and villages: Toulouse, the "Pink City"; Albi, birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec; Rodez, renowned for its superb museum...and the stunning bastide towns of Aveyron.

There are also unforgettable natural sites: Pic du Midi d'Ossau; the observatory on the Pic du Midi de Bigorre; the Cirque de Gavarnie; the Lot valley; the Tarn gorges...and there are sites and villages that defy time and history: Rocamadour; Cordes sur Ciel; Marciac; Montségur...

...and towns of art and history, such as Figeac and Montauban, full of treasures and the glories of the past, as well as man's own creations, like the Canal du Midi.


getting there

BY RAIL

Many trains go to the Midi-Pyrénées, 2 of which are high-speed TGV trains:

Paris-Toulouse: 5 hours (5 TGV trains daily)

Paris-Tarbes: 5 hours (4 TGV trains daily)

For further information, and to plan your trip, check prices and make bookings:

RAIL EUROPE (www.raileurope.co.uk):

Tel: 08448 484 064; reservations@raileurope.co.uk

FRENCH MOTORAIL RESERVATIONS:

08448 484 050; frenchmotorail@raileurope.co.uk

SNCF (www.sncf.com)

Information/Bookings/Sales: Direct line 33 (0)892 35 35 35

BY AIR

There are three airports in Midi-Pyrénées with direct lines from Britain and Ireland:

TOULOUSE-BLAGNAC AIRPORT from:

Belfast: Jet2.com

Bristol: EasyJet

Dublin: Aer Lingus

Edinburgh: Jet2.com

Leeds Bradford: Jet2.com

London Gatwick: British AirwaysEasyJet

Airport information: Tel: 01 70 46 74 74; www.toulouse.aeroport.fr

The airport is just 9.5km/6 miles from the centre of Toulouse and the journey takes approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

A shuttle service runs daily (including Sunday) every 20 minutes (Société Courriers de la Garonne: Ticket office outside airport at 'ARRIVALS', C entrance: Tel: 05 34 60 64 00)

RODEZ/MARCILLAC AIRPORT

From London Stansted and Dublin : Ryanair

Airport Information: Tel: 05 65 42 20 30; www.aeroport-rodez.fr

TARBES-LOURDES-PYRÉNÉES AIRPORT

Located halfway (6 miles) between Lourdes and Tarbes and just 45 minutes from the Hautes-Pyrénées ski resorts (with daily Air France connections from Orly Airport in Paris).

Seasonal charter flights from Dublin, London Stansted and Manchester, as well as more links from Britain and Ireland on occasional charter flights.

Airport Information: Tel: 05 62 32 92 22; www.tlp.aeroport.fr/en/voyageur

BRIVE-VALLEE DE LA DORDOGNE

From London City: CityJet

Airport Information: Tel: 05 55 22 40 00; www.aeroport-brive-vallee-dordogne.com.

BY ROAD

Motorway access:
A20: towards Cahors, Brive, Limoges and Paris
A61: towards Montpellier, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Geneva and Barcelona
A62: towards Bordeaux, Nantes, Paris and Rennes
A64: towards Tarbes, Lourdes, Pau, Bayonne, St-Sébastien, Bilbao and Madrid
A66: towards Pamiers and Foix
A68: towards Albi and Rodez
A75: towards Béziers, Clermont-Ferrand and Millau


This website was built using Solo Build It!



SEARCH THIS WEBSITE

Custom Search

REGIONAL TOURIST OFFICE

15 rue Rivals, CS 78543, 31685 Toulouse

Tel: 05 61 13 55 55

www.tourism-midi-pyrenees.co.uk

Located in the heart of Toulouse, near the Capitole, the Maison Midi-Pyrénées is a first port of call for everyone who wants to gain the most from their visit to the Midi-Pyrenees. It is a place of discovery, with meetings and events, where Midi-Pyrenees invites you to share its riches: tastes and scents; nature and environment; crafts and skills; science and techniques; history and heritage.

You may also book your holiday in Midi-Pyrenees here, or benefit from personalised advice, available on the first floor of the Maison.



READ MORE ABOUT THE PYRENEES IN THE AUTHOR'S E-BOOK 'ASPECTS DE LA VIE FRANÇAISE