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)
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.
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 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.
15 rue Rivals, CS 78543, 31685 Toulouse
Tel: 05 61 13 55 55
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.