The Midi-Pyrénées is the largest region in Metropolitan France, covering 45,348 km² (17,509 sq mi) - more than countries like Denmark, Switzerland or the Netherlands. It is also one of France's most sparsely populated area, with barely 2.8 million residents, among whom 1.2 million live in the Greater Toulouse area. This leaves only 1.6 million people spread over a territory the size of the Netherlands (which has over 16 million inhabitants).
The modern administrative region is an amalgamation of widely divergent historical provinces and pays. One quarter of the Midi-Pyrénées was taken from Gascony (the southwest), another quarter from Languedoc (around Toulouse), a fifth of it used to be Rouergue (present-day Aveyron), 15% comes from historical Quercy (modern Lot), and the rest from small Pyrenean provinces (Foix, Couserans, Nébouzan, Quatre-Vallées, and Bigorre).
In the north, the Lot has green rolling hills and lovely ochre stone villages, while the Aveyron is mountainous and forested, and dotted with rustic towns built on rocky terrain. The sun-baked plains of Lower Languedoc in the middle are sprinkled with bastides (fortified medieval towns) with an emblematic pinkish appearance. The south is occupied by the foothills of the majestic snow-capped Pyrenees, a rural and austere region that will attract hikers and nature lovers.
People in the Midi-Pyrénées have a reputation for liking to take things slow, eat well and enjoy life. Culinary specialities include foie gras, cassoulet, confit de canard, and roquefort cheese. Although it is not a wine-growing region, Cahors does produce its own robust, tannic red wine, while the Armagnac region (in the Gers) is famous worldwide for its brandy.
Famous people from the Midi-Pyrénées include (chronologically): the musketeer d'Artagnan, painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, the poet and novelist Théophile Gautier, the statesman Léon Gambetta, WWI Marshal Ferdinand Foch, socialist leader Jean Jaurès, painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and President Vincent Auriol.
Département du Lot
Set majestically against a sheer cliff above the Alzou canyon, the small village of Rocamadour (pop. 630) is the 5th most visited site in France, attracting 1.5 million tourists annually...Read more
Autoire is a lovely stone village tucked between the Dordogne River and the Causse du Quercy Regional Nature Park. It is famous for its nearby cirque (natural amphitheatre) with its...Read more
Castelnau-Bretenoux is one of the largest medieval fortress in the Quercy. Built between the 12th and the 16th century, the interior dates mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries...Read more
Roosted on a rocky promontory towering above the Dordogne and Bave valleys, the fortified village of Loubressac has all it takes to charm visitors. It is located just a few km away from...Read more
Beautifully set at the fringe of a 100m cliff above the River Lot, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie unequivocally deserves its listings among the most beautiful villages of France...Read more
Département du Gers
Auch was the seat of the County of Armagnac and Archbishopric of Aquitaine. It is famous for its cathedral, which boasts spectacular stained-glass windows, and its Musée des Jacobins, one of the oldest museums in France...Read more
Larressingle is a small but heavily fortified village 6 km west of Condom. Dubbed the 'Little Carcassonne', its Cité des Machines du Moyen Age
is an excellent place to get acquainted with medieval siege weapons.
Séviac Roman Villa
Département des Hautes-Pyrénées
Cirque de Gavarnie
Pic du Midi de Bigorre
Pyrénées National Park
Département de l'Aveyron
Hemmed in a lush green valley at the confluence of the Dourdou and Ouche rivers, Conques is a lovely medieval village brimming with wabbly half-timbered houses...Read more
Pagax Castle (ruins)
Département du Tarn
Dubbed the "red city", Albi is an attractive medieval city and the birthplace of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Albi's main sighst are its cathedral, a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic...Read more
Castelnau-de-Lévis Castle (ruins)
Département de Tarn-et-Garonne
Montauban is a pleasant city with a historical centre built mostly in the 17th century, out of pink-red bricks like Toulouse. It was the home town of the great Neoclassical painter Ingres...Read more
Département de la Haute-Garonne
Toulouse, the pink city, blends rich historical heritage with modernity. It boasts the largest space centre in Europe, and is a leader aeronautics and computering industry, with companies...Read more
Laréole is a Renaissance castle characterised by its striped brick and white stone architecture. It was built in 1579 for Pierre de Cheverry, a wealthy pastel maker from Toulouse.
Valmirande Castle, in Montréjeau
Département de l'Ariège
Historic town of the Cathar country, Mirepoix has managed to preserved an appealing market square wholly made of 16th-century timber-framed houses.
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