Quick Guide to Midi Pyrenees
Departments in Midi Pyrenees:
Ariege, Aveyron, Haute Garonne, Gers, Lot, Haute Pyrenees, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne
Popular Towns in Midi Pyrenees:
Toulouse, Albi, Cahors, Figeac, Labastide, Murat
The Midi-Pyrénées region unpeels in your hands like an onion. Skiing down powdered mountains in the Ariege, enjoying the cosmopolitan ambience of Toulouse in Haut-Garonne, or paying penance at the holy water at Lourdes in the Haute-Pyrenees is how most people think of Midi Pyrénées. Fewer know about the tips of the Massif central in Aveyron home to the Bridge in the Clouds, the gastronomic epicentre in Gers where the Roquefort cheese is practically sacred, and the lower-lying river bank agricultural areas of Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne.
But it's the secrets at the core of Midi-Pyrénées that render it so alluring - such as Europe's longest underwater river, the after-hours nightlife in Toulouse and miracle-ridden towns etched into mountainsides. The Midi-Pyrenees is a complex region, but in all the right ways, and will reward the curious with the experience of a lifetime.
Top things to see...
- The most dramatic mountain-range this side of the Alps in the Pyrenees National.
- The highest waterfall in France at the Cirque de Gavarnie, with a 400m drop and the unique chance to get incredibly close to the torrents of water.
- The "Bridge in the Clouds", Europe's longest and highest bridge, the Millau viaduct, a truly inspirational feat of engineering.
- The UNESCO world heritage site at Albi - a unique mediaeval redbrick fortified cathedral with a riveting riverscape of the Tarn.
- The other-worldly charm and unbeatable serenity of Europe's longest underground river at Labouiche.
Top things to do...
- Sit in the Place du Capitole, the heart of Toulouse, the Pink City and soak up the atmosphere in the evening glow of the magnificent Capitole building.
- Try out the healing waters at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a peasant girl in 1858 and is nowdays the most famous Catholic pilgrimage centre in France.
- Get a whiff of the famously pungent Roquefort cheese in the caves where its matured, and then double-check the wrapping on the chunk you're taking home in your suitcase...
- Warm up with some après-ski aperitifs in wooden ski huts in the mountains looking out on an unforgettable panorama of deep blue skies and pure white mountains.
- Battle vertigo on the hike down to the Cité Religieuse in Lot, a gravity-defying pilgrims city welded onto a rock-face.
Roquefort cheese, toulouse, cirque de Gavarnie, Pyrenees mountains, Lourdes.
Did you know...?
Midi-Pyrénées is the largest region in metropolitan France, in terms of surface area.
By road... Take the Eurotunnel onto the continent and then along many motoways, including the A64 to Lourdes and the A68 to Albi. This is a long drive though at about 9 hours, so is bets to be broken up in one of the many towns and cities en route.
By air... Jet2 runs flighte to Toulouse from all over th UK, including Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and London. Easy jet also goes there from Bristol, and RyanAir fly direct to Rodez. There are also seasonal flights to Lourdes in pilgrimage season.
By train... Travel by Eurostar from London St. Pancras, Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Paris, Lille or Avignon and then change to the French SNCF network (including the high speed TGV) to Toulouse and other towns in the Midi-Pyrénées. The trip from Paris to Toulouse takes about 5 hours on the train.