Nature in Midi-Pyrenees

Nature in Midi-Pyrenees


The scenery
 • Joining the Causses (foothills to the south and west of the Massif Central) to the Pyrenees, the Cathare lands (between Albi and Toulouse) and the countryside around Armagnac (Gers), the region is a wonderful blend of landscapes and atmospheres. The fairly steep hills of Quercy and the fertile fields of the Lauragais, known in times past as the "land of plenty" are two examples of this. Several regional nature reserves add to the multi-faceted beauty of the region, from the Aveyron to the Ariège .
 • The Pyrenees national park both protects and promotes the high peaks and deep valleys, a truly unique mountain environment where the "gates" are in fact mountain passes and the mountain streams are more like torrents. And the great sites add to the spectacle of this vast, eclectic region. In the Pyrénées, there are the waterfalls of Pont d'Espagne and the Cirque de Gavarnie, the Pic du Midi de Bigorre of the summit of the Vignemale, etc. In the Causses, there is the Gouffre de Padirac and Rocamadour, and much more.

Gastronomy and local produce
 • The accents of the southwest are also present in the food. The reputation of this Epicurean region stems especially from its foie gras from Gascony and its sweet white wines (Monbazillac, Pacherenc) or powerful red wines (Madiran), its local produce sold on the stalls of the covered market typical around Auch, Cahors and Toulouse. And don't forget the treasure of the Quercy region, otherwise known as the black truffle, which has put the village of Lalbenque on the map, and also the famous blue cheese from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

 • Hiking takes on another dimension, with the GR 10 which crosses from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, on the ridge of the Pyrenees mountain range, or nearly. You can just explore a few of the magnificent sites: towards the lakes in the Massif de Néouvielle, in the valleys of the Aure, the Louron and the Azun, etc. And the GR 65 remains the main road on the Santiago pilgrimage, passing through the valley of the Célé and Conques (in Aveyron), whereas the GR 36 winds through the superb Lot valley, via Cahors and Moissac. 

 • For cycling, the region has made some good resolutions. From Toulouse, the pink city, a green route follows the magnificent blue line of the Canal du Midi, for 40 km, towards Castelnaudary to the east. To the north, the banks of the Garonne will also boast a cycle path. To the south, a Veloroute is being constructed from Carbonne, towards Saint-Gaudens and the historic site of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. In the heart of the Pyrenees, the green route of Gaves links Lourdes to Pierrefitte-Nestalas, via Argelès-Gazost, over 17 km, with the Tourisme et Handicap (Tourism for the disabled) label. The "Passa Païs" green route travels 54 km from Mazamet (in the Tarn). And mountain biking is not left out, with FFC-approved sites and marked tours spread over the 8 departments. And hardened cyclotourists can set their own challenges by climbing the legendary mountain passes of the Tour de France: Aspin, Tourmalet, Peyresourde, etc.

Navigable waterways
- Of course, the Canal du Midi is the epitome of river tourism in France, with its history, its surroundings (for example towards the Seuil de Naurouze) and its listed bridges and its impressive, ingenious locks. Barge bed and breakfasts and pleasure boats are available for hire all along the canal. A wonderfully pastoral atmosphere, in a class of its own...



Things to see