How do you get the most out of your visit to the Midi-Pyrenees?
We visited some quaint villages in the Midi-Pyrenees but before we list them let us share with you some interesting facts on this beautiful part of France. Have you been?
Where is the Midi-Pyrenees
The Midi-Pyrenees lies in the South West region of France between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest region of France with Toulouse being its Capital.
Some things you may not know about the Midi-Pyrenees
- It has the largest number of farms in all of France numbering approximately 60,000
- The region is larger than Belgium or Switzerland
- The highest mountain is 3,000 metres and there are 38 ski resorts
- The Canal du Midi runs for 149 miles through the region with 63 locks
- The town of Lourdes lies in the region. It is the #2 visited site in France outside Paris. It is a famous religious pilgrimage where the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl in 1858.
- The major aircraft corporation Airbus has its global headquarters there
- The first flight of the Airbus A380 took place over Toulouse
- It is famous for Foie Gras, Black Truffles, Roquefort Cheese and Cassoulet – the meat and bean casserole
- It contains the Gaillac Vineyard which is one of the oldest in France and is famous for its white wine
- It also contains the most famous Vineyard – Armagnac which is well known for its French Brandy
Why were we in the Midi-Pyrenees
We were on a housesitting assignment in a small village called Encausse in the Gers Region, 34km from Toulouse, during the summer months of July and August.
Some of the Small Villages We Visited
We came across Mauvezin by accident as our Boulangerie closed for two weeks holiday in the small town of Cologne near to where we were housesitting. It was a Monday morning and we were craving soft flakey pan au chocolat. We found a Boulangerie in a side street, full of locals buying baguettes, cakes and of course croissants. BTW the pan au chocolat did not disappoint.
Liberation Square with its beautiful stone archways dates back to 16th century and is the heart of Mauvezin. We were lucky to arrive on Market Day to see the locals haggling with the stall holders over the prices of the fruit and vegetables in season. A lot of laughter took place, strange facial expressions and hand gestures from both sides giving us an impromptu theatrical play which we seemed to be a part of.
As we wandered around the town we came across the Gothic Saint Michael’s Church and the Bell Tower which dates back to the 13th century and rebuilt in 1829.
Cologne (named after Cologne in Germany) was founded in 1284. Located in the middle of the town is the medieval market hall which dates back to the 14th century and was the venue for fairs and weekly markets. The Belfry Bell at the top dates back to 1607.
If you are in Cologne pop into the Tourism Office and say that we sent you. They have lots of good information on what to see in and around the area. Enjoy the local pan au chocolat from the Boulangerie.
There was not much to see or do in our little village that we stayed in. Encausse had a small church that dated back to 1759. The only sign of life was a local gentleman who must have been in his 80’s who sat outside his home on a white plastic chair – the highlight of his day was having a neighbour drive past and wave to him.
Our walks with the dogs that we were caring for took us past fields of smiling bright yellow sunflowers and a small church. We saw quite a few foxes and deer as we walked the lanes running beside farmer’s fields.
L’Isle Jourdain is one of the biggest towns we visited outside of Toulouse. There is a direct train service that takes about 45 minutes. It is a medieval city and like all the villages that we visited the main square is the hub. Every Saturday the streets are closed around the Square and the Saturday market takes place. Apart from fruit and vegetable stalls, you can find local wines, cheeses, meats, artisan bread and clothing as well as household items. It can be quite difficult to park.
The 14th-century tower of the Collegiate St Martin dominates the skyline. It was rebuilt in the neoclassical style in 1785 as it was destroyed during the religious wars.
As you drive through the very small village of Lareole, you cannot miss the grand Chateau de Lareole. A Chateau built in the Renaissance style, using bricks alternating with local stone, started construction in 1579 and was finished 3 years later. The large quadrangle building with 4 towers was commissioned by a highly successful pastel merchant from Toulouse – Pierre de Cheverry. Today you can visit free of charge, enjoy a meal or a coffee at the small Cafe, wander through the gift shop and enjoy various exhibitions throughout the year.
Here are some recommended hotels in the Midi-Pyrenees.
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