Midi-Pyrenees tourist and vacation guide

The Midi-Pyrenees region is in the south of France, and, as its name suggests, is 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. It now forms part of the Occitanie region.

Is the Midi-Pyrenees worth visiting?

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. Its rugged mountains soar to more than 10,000 feet, though 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.

The slopes also provide 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.

Things to do in Midi-Pyrenees

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.

The stunning town of Albi

Throw in a dozen or more excellent museums, like the fabulous new Toulouse Lautrec Museum in Albi as well as numerous parks and gardens, such as the Pyrenean Animal Park in Argelès-Gazoste, where you can spend a night with wolves and you can see the different things to do in Midi-Pyrenees.

But there are also 10 grottoes and subterranean sites and almost 50 picturesque towns and villages, including many that rank among the ‘Best villages to visit in France‘, and suddenly the realisation dawns that this region is one of the most outstanding and touristically versatile in France.

Places to visit in Midi-Pyrenees

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!

Visitors Guide to Toulouse

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. And don’t forget Montpellier which isn’t too far away.

Pic du Midi
The observatory on the Pic du Midi

There are also unforgettable natural sites: Pic du Midi d’Ossau; the observatory on the Pic du Midi de Bigorre and the Cirque de Gavarnie.

Don’t forget the Lot valley and the amazing the Tarn gorges. For those who want to see the traditional France there there are sites and villages that defy time and history: Rocamadour; Cordes sur Ciel; Marciac; Montségur.

Visitors Guide to the Lot Valley

There are Midi-Pyrenees 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.

How to get to Midi-Pyrenees

Rail

Many trains go to the Midi-Pyrénées, two 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

For US toruists there are several airports in Midi-Pyrenees with connecting flights from the UK:

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport from:

Belfast: Jet2.com

Bristol: EasyJet

Dublin: Aer Lingus

Edinburgh: Jet2.com

Leeds Bradford: Jet2.com

London Gatwick: British Airways; EasyJet

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-Pyrenees 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

Brieve Vallee de la Dordogne Airport

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

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