Photographs compliments of Midi-Pyrénées Tourism Office
Visitors to the Midi-Pyrénées in France, also known as the Southwest, have the unique opportunity to savor some of the most unique food and wine in all of France while also soaking up the rich arts and culture scene of the region.
The Midi-Pyrénées is a verdant, hilly wine region—home to more than two dozen winemakers featuring some of the world’s greatest grape varieties and some that are grown nowhere else in the world.
From the Malbec wines grown in the sun-drenched Cahors region to the Gaillac district, one of the oldest wine-growing areas in France, to the Madiran wines known for their inky color and tannic density, the wines of southwest France offer a wide array of flavors and are a true treasure trove for the dedicated wine connoisseur.
The region is also rich in spirits, most notably the distinctive brandy Armagnac, produced in Gascony. Tourists can explore the “Route de l’Armagnac” which winds through the vineyards and experience the different tastes and sensations of this brandy, known for its unique finesse and roundness.
The Midi-Pyrénées is also renowned for its fine cuisine. It is home of the black truffle, which is found exclusively in the region around the village of Lalbenque.
The Midi-Pyrénées is also the capital of the iconic French specialty, foie gras. With subtle flavors of hazelnut and a creamy texture, this delicacy can be bought directly from the producer or at the special winter foie gras markets that are peppered throughout many small towns in the Gers district.
The Soulages Museum, in the town of Rodez, is dedicated to the work of acclaimed painter and Rodez native Pierre Soulages. Widely considered one of the great abstract artists, Soulages was inspired by the prehistoric and Romanesque art of the region. The museum houses 500 works donated by Pierre and Colette Soulages to Rodez, which is the world’s biggest collection, estimated to be worth close to $55 million.
The Toulouse Lautrec Museum will celebrate the life of painter and lithographer Toulouse Lautrec, born in the city of Albi in 1864. The exhibit will run from October 25, 2014 to January 25, 2015.
The Midi-Pyrénées also abounds with celebrations and performances, with more than 180 festivals and events taking place throughout the year.
The Medieval Festival of the Grand Falconer takes place in the village of Cordes-sur-Ciel on July 14—coinciding with Bastille Day, France’s national holiday. The annual festival offers a faithful recreation of medieval life in the Midi-Pyrénées, with fire-eaters, jugglers, falconers, troubadours, musicians, knights and villagers all garbed in medieval attire.
The Piano aux Jacobins, held in the region’s capital city Toulouse during the month of September, is the first festival in France entirely dedicated to piano performances. This year’s edition takes place September 2 to 29.
The small and quaint Gascon town of Marciac will transform into a jazz capital this summer from July 24 to August 13 with its legendary festival, Jazz in Marciac, which has welcomed international jazz icons.
The natural world comes alive in the Midi-Pyrénées with vast areas of untouched countryside and rugged mountains in its national parks. Cyclists come from all corners of the earth to follow the route of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees and climb the famed Col du Tourmalet.
The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs from Bordeaux and the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean sea, is ideal for bicycling enthusiasts looking for a relaxing ride and discovering this 150-mile engineering masterpiece.
Travelers can embark on a spiritual retreat in the region at the sacred French Grotto of Lourdes, a world famous pilgrimage site. Every year, the cosmopolitan and convivial town receives 6 million travelers from 140 countries from every continent.
Walking the Way of St. James has changed little over the centuries, where pilgrims trek from all over Europe to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The route winds through many scenic villages born of the ancient pilgrimage, including Rocamadour, Conques and Moissac.
For more information on Midi-Pyrénées, go to: Midi-Pyrénées Tourism Office.