Visit Midi-Pyrenees, France
Great scenery, outdoor activities, picturesque towns and villages, and more great scenery! The Midi-Pyrenees region of southern France has something for everyone (except coastline) from high mountains to gently rolling pastoral countryside
Six unmissable highlights of a visit to the Midi-Pyrenees
Midi-Pyrenees: an introduction
The Midi-Pyrenees region covers the mountainous section of the Pyrenees along the border between France and Spain, and a large swathe running northwards into areas that are remote from the Pyrenees mountains - through Gers (Gascony) and into the Lot Department (just east of the Dordogne).
Typically visitors either come for the mountains of the south, the beautiful countryside and history of the north, or the calm attractions of the Gers (Gascony) region in the centre of the region.
Because the region is quite extensive, and each department has its own particular appeal, style and attractions it is more useful to look at the departments separately. Each department in the Midi-Pyrenees is introduced below but also has its own dedicated section with useful travel information and links to individual places
The capital of the Midi-Pyrenees region is Toulouse, the attractive red-brick city towards the north of the region.
The two northern departments of the Midi-Pyrenees - Aveyron and Lot - contain some fascinating towns and fine scenery. The region extends past the Dordogne department of north-eastern Aquitaine and into the southern part of the Massif Central.
The Aveyron department part of the northern Midi-Pyrenees that falls within the scenic valleys of the Massif Central
The department includes the pretty villages of Conques and Belcastel (both unmissable during a visit to Aveyron) and Entraygues, also Estaing, St Eulalie d'Olt and Saint-Come d'Olt. Najac and Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and nearby Villefranche-de-Rouergue are also popular.
see Aveyron for more travel information
Historically one of the most important pilgrim regions in France, Rocamadour is still the most popular destination in Lot.
When in the Lot department be sure to visit Rocamadour itself and the nearby caves at Gouffre de Padirac, also the village and animal park at Gramat. Also visit Autoire and Carennac, while also highly recommended in Lot is the village at Loubressac. Follow the attractive Lot Valley, including Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Cahors. The pretty village of Puy-l'Eveque on the Lot River further east towards Fumel also deserves a visit.
Figeac in the Lot department is also a quaint and interesting small market town to visit in the south, and see also Souillac a town with a fine abbey-church, and Gourdon, both in the north-west, along with the charming town of Martel.
see Lot, France for more travel information
The central region is largely recognised by its unspoiled rolling countryside and ancient bastide towns. The three departments running east to west in a central band across the Midi-Pyrenees region are:
Gers - similar in geographical possition to the historical Gascony region - is a peaceful region of quiet villages and attractive rolling countryside.
Visit the cluster of classified most beautiful villages - Montreal-du-Gers, Fources and Larressingle (a baby version of Carcassonne) and a couple of the other towns in the region - including Condom (yes the sign at the entry to the village has been photographed before...).
See also the towns of Auch and Fleurance perhaps, as good examples of typical towns of the Gers region. Lectoure is also in Gers in the central Midi-Pyrenees region. north-west of Auch the town of Vic Fezensac is especially lively during the summer months.
see Gascony for more travel information
A highlight of the French department of Tarn is Cordes (now officially renamed as Cordes-sur-Ciel), another of the very popular, well-preserved medieval town in the region.
The group of towns to the east of Toulouse, in the Tarn region, includes Gaillac, a typical red-brick town of the Tarn region, and also Albi and Castres - Albi is one of the less known jewels of this part of France and well worth exploring.
The Regional Natural Park of the Haut-Languedoc is to the south of Tarn, and features some fascinating landscapes to explore.
see Tarn for more travel information
The important cathedral and cloisters at Moissac are the 'centre' of tourist activity in Tarn-et-Garonne
Visit Moissac, with its very famous cloisters, and Auvillar, another 'most beautiful village' and both in this part of the Midi-Pyrenees region. See also Montauban, an attractive bastide town in the Tarn et Garonne department.
To the east of Moissac pass through Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val and follow the Aveyron River to visit the cluster of villages of Mirabel, Réalville and Cayrac and on to Montricoux.
see Tarn-et-Garonne for more travel information
Pyrenees - the southern Midi-Pyrenees
The southern part of the region is in the Pyrenees mountains, and it can be wild and dramatic, and is often very beautiful, with mountain passes, crashing rivers, and dramatic cliffs and scenery. The three departments in the mountainous Pyrenees, running east to west are Haute-Pyrenees, Haute-Garonne and Ariege.
The capital of the region, Toulouse, is found in this department that passes south from the flat centre of the Midi-Pyrenees to the mountains on the border with Spain.
In the north, two bastide towns deserving a mention in the Haute-Garonne department south-west of Toulouse are Carbonne and Cazeres, and the town of Revel is also interesting to visit.
Heading into the dramatic scenery of the mountains visit Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, a classified most beautiful village in the Haute-Garonne department, and the spa town in the mountains at Bagneres-de-Luchon
see Haute-Garonne for more travel information
The Ariege department has an extraordinary diversity of landscapes and some very pleasant towns to explore
The main attractions are mostly outdoor, scenic highlights and the pursuit of activities such as hiking and cycling is very popular here in Ariege.
see Ariege for more travel information
In Hautes-Pyrenees you will perhaps want to visit the Pyrenees National Park, and perhaps even venture to Mont Perdu in the deep Pyrenees on the Spanish border, a listed world heritage site. A little more accessible is the mountain and spa town at Bagneres-de-Luchon.
The Cirque de Gavarnie, an imposing cliff face south of Luz and Argeles, is a good place for hikers to start exploring the region. Skiing in winter, and walking and cycling in summer, make the Pyrenees very much an outdoors destination.
see Hautes-Pyrenees for more travel information
It's not only the alps where people ski in France: see our guide to some of the most popular ski resorts in the Pyrenees.
See more ideas at Midi-Pyrenees tourist information, with more towns, national monuments, national parks, towns in bloom etc across the Midi-Pyrenees region.
Map of Midi-Pyrenees
French version: Midi-Pyrenees (Francais)