The Midi-Pyrénées region is a tiny universe of contrasts. It is a world of fertile farmland and rural outposts, sprinkled generously with chic and happening cities. It is a land of mountains and valleys, including some of Europe’s highest peaks. It is a place for sinfully divine cuisine, inexpensive meals that last for three hours with five courses. There are some of France’s most historically significant sites here, alongside a thriving aerospace industry. The region’s borders touch both Spain and the principality of Andorra.
To spend time in the Midi-Pyrénées is to discover endless riches. The region includes 27 towns with the prestigious and sought-after Most Beautiful French Villages designation, and for good reason. While the capital city of Toulouse is packed with museums, attractions and people, there are several charming smaller towns that are alluring. Rodez has a remarkable cathedral, with an expansive produce market in its shadows. Its medieval streets are lined with boutiques and cafés. Cahors is a hub of wine-making, and it features a dramatic medieval bridge with three towers. Tarbes is no Paris, to be sure, but its location at the foot of the Pyrenees allows for great daytrips and striking views of snowcapped peaks.
One of the world’s most significant religious pilgrimage destinations, Lourdes, draws thousands daily to the cave where a young girl claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary. There are wonderful thermal spa villages, such as Argèles-Gazost and Ax-les-Thermes, allowing for mountain discoveries combined with relaxing treatments.
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