Occitanie, a truly exceptional region
Exceptional is the perfect word to describe the great sites awaiting you in southwestern France’s Occitanie region: the Cirque de Gavarnie, Millau Viaduct, Conques, Rocamadour, Montségur, the Canal du Midi, and the region’s capital city, Toulouse are just the beginning.
The largest region in France, featuring both the very latest technology and also traces of Prehistoric civilizations, Occitanie is a vast land ideal for exploration during your holidays or over a weekend.
Take advantage of the tranquil and shady banks of the Canal du Midi, classified as a UNESCO world monument, or explore the landscapes of Aubrac. The adventurous can negotiate the gorges of Tarn by canoe or kayak, or take in the spectacular Viaduc de Millau by hang glider or para-glider. Others can opt to scale the Pic du Midi at Bigorre, one of 24 Great Sites of Occitanie, alongside the Rocamadour, the Canal des Deux Mers (Canal of the Two Seas), the towns of Cordes-sur-ciel and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
The route to Santiago de Compostela includes a number of remarkable buildings: the Saint-Marie cathedral in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, the Abbey of Sainte-Foy de Conques, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, and the cathedral of Sainte-Cécile of Albi. Piety abounds in the town of Lourdes, notably all around the Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire. The château de Montségur, the château de Foix, and the Templar city of La Couvertoirade also recount chapters in the history of Occitanie.
If you are visiting with the family, dive into the age of cavemen at Préhistologia, or discover the future at the Cité de l'Espace in Toulouse. Be amazed as you stand before the wonders of nature at the Micropolis, at the Grottes de Bétharram (Caves of Bétharram), the Gouffre de Padirac or the Gavarnie Circus (Cirque de Gavarnie).
A medieval spiced wine called hypocras (an aperitif in Ariège) and the cheese-making process at the Caves de Roquefort are proof of the continuation of gastronomic traditions. As throughout the Southwest, foie gras, duck breast and confit de canard feature prominently on menus in Occitanie.
Other typical dishes include Tarbes beans, lamb from the Pyrénées, aligot (a creamed potato dish with cheese), and garbure, (a mountain soup with cabbage and chunks of ham), all of which make regular appearances at the dinner table in Occitanie.
The Pyrénées are famous for their cheeses, both cow’s milk and sheep’s cheeses, as well as pâtisseries such as croustade, pastis, fouace and gâteau à la broche, which will accompany wines from local domains such as Jurançon, Gaillac, Cahors, Madiran and Armagnac.
A region of great rugby players, Occitanie also welcomes other sporting disciplines and hosts the World Pétanque Competition in Millau, as well as the Toulouse half-marathon and several international horse races. The Montgolfiades (hot-air ballooning competition) in Rocamadour, together with the Intercontinental Festival of Fireworks, will fill the sky over Occitanie with a thousand colors. The Siestes Electroniques festival marks the beginning of a musical summer in Toulouse, a prelude to the notes of Jazz in Marciac, the Cahors Blues Festival, and the Jazz Festival in Montauban.
The Occitanie region combines the joy of exploring with the pleasures of gastronomy and the thrill of new experiences.