A Guide to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France

Category: Midi-Pyrenees - Departments
Regional Capital : Toulouse
Area : 45,348 km2
Economy : Agriculture, Aerospace, Tourism
Airports : Toulouse, Tarbes, Rodez
Departments :
Places to Visit: Cité de l'espace, Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Pyrenees Mountains, Toulouse, Lourdes, Rocamadour
Population: 2,776,822

Key points about this information item A Guide to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France



A guide to the Midi-Pyrenees region of south west France

This page presents a very brief overview of the Midi-Pyrenees region and provides links to all eight department information pages.  A seperate description gives an overview of each individual department, again with links to each department page.


The Midi Pyrenees occupies the central sector of South West France and is the largest region by area, being larger than both the Netherlands and Belgium. Stretching from the mountains of the Pyrenees in the South, north to Rocamadour, east to the Gorges du Tarn and West as far as the Valley of Dordogne, the region offers a an immense diversity of landscapes. The mountainous south gives way to lush rolling hills, typified by the countryside of the Gers, while travelling further north will bring you to the Lot with its deep gorges.
The Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border between France and Spain and extend for about 430 km (267 mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea. The Vignemale Massif, standing at 3298m, is the highest in the French Pyrenees and is popular with climbers.  Of more interest to tourists is the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, which is topped by an Observatoire and easily reached by cable car all year round.


The vast variations in landscape bring with it large differences in climate. The mountainous areas will be snowbound during the winter months, while offering an escape from the heat in the summer, while areas further north will have mild and wet winters and summers that are hot and dry with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C.  The Pyrenees are often enveloped in cloud, but by travelling just a few miles north can frequently brng you back into sunshine.
The region has an average of 2000 hours of sunshine per year, making dining al fresco comfortable for much of the year.

Cultural interest

Being such a large area and encompassing a diverse mix of cultures has left the region with a myriad of dialects, traditions and culture. Bordering Spain with its Basque people has had an enormous influence on the area, as has sharing part of the ancient Province of Gascony with neighbouring Aquitaine. The traditions and gastronomy of the Gascon people can be found all over the region.


There are many "typical local dishes" thanks to the varied mix of cultures in the area and the Gascony region is justifiably famous for its cuisine. From foie gras, duck and goose dishes through to croustade, a delicious apple tart or crepes with Armagnac, whatever you try you will find the local chefs take extreme pride in their creations.
Typical of Toulouse is cassoulet, a meat and white bean stew and saucisse de Toulouse.
The Cahors area produces speciality ‘black wine' and the Aveyron department lays claim to the Roquefort cheese.
Fine wine and food are synonymous with the Midi Pyrenees and you do not need to travel far to come across another famous dish to sample.

Things to do

The region contains many of the Pyrenees snow sport resorts, which are also popular during the summer months with walkers and mountain bikers.  Away from the mountains there many historical sites of interest, pretty villages and towns to visit.  There are a myriad of castles and chateau to explore.  Wander round the markets and find some fresh produce for your dinner.





Travel suggestions


The area is well served by both the major airlines and the low cost carriers.  Toulouse is the Midi-Pyrenees largest airport and is ideally situated being almost in the centre of the region.  There is a wide choice of airports and airlines that give access to the region.  Have a look at our guide 2 flying to the south west of France.



The roads are very well maintained and for the most part much quieter than roads in the UK. However, France is a much larger country than the UK and it is wise not to underestimate the distances to travel if heading for the south of the country.

Travelling from the north of France using ferry ports such as Calais or the Channel Tunnel will involve a drive of around 650 miles or more and it is suggested that the journey be split over two days.

From the more westerly port of St Malo, the drive is around 550 miles and can be achieved in a day, although it will be a long day!

The Spanish ports on the Atlantic coast are only a short distance from the French border and after a relaxing cruise, the Midi-Pyrenees are only a few hours drive through spectacular scenery.

Check out our guide 2 driving in France.  


The French rail system is modern and efficient with the TGV giving access to the Midi Pyrenees region within just a few hours. There are good connections with the Eurostar, making the journey relatively easy and the SNCF still run a motor-rail service, so you can bring your car without all the hassle of driving.

Have a look at our guide 2 train travel.



Check out Guide2MidiPyrenees for Property in Midi-PyreneesEventsNewsClassifiedsPlaces to StayMidi-Pyrenees Attractions and Business Directory.



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