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MIDI PYRENEES – WHY GO?
Magnificent mountains and sunny southern climate make the Midi Pyrénées region a winner. Stretching from the wooded hills of the Dordogne to the peaks of the Pyrenees, it’s a tapestry of mountains, valleys, ancient towns and Romanesque churches.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Everything in Toulouse starts with the vast, arcaded place du Capitole, whose grandiose town hall takes centre stage. Crowds meet here on the terraces of Toulouse's best-known cafes, and a massive market is held in the courtyard. From here, wander south into the winding streets of medieval Toulouse, with its gothic churches, fountains and pretty squares.
Art and architecture
Former medieval merchants’ houses open to the public include Hôtel de Bernuy and Hôtel d’Assézat, hung with paintings by Monet, Matisse and Pissarro. The magnificent St-Sernin Basilica, with its wedding-cake spire, is another must-see. Modern art fiends should make tracks for Les Abattoirs, across the Pont Neuf.
Within striking distance of Toulouse is the pilgrimage Mecca of Lourdes. The town’s water is reputed to have miraculous healing qualities, and the processions of modern-day pilgrims – many having flown across the world – making their way to the cathedral at night is an awesome sight.
The red city of Albi, with its giant cathedral, is another not-to-be-missed old city in Midi Pyrénées. Be sure to walk round the Musée Toulouse Lautrec, where over 1,000 works, paintings, posters of the great man are hung, as well as works by Matisse and Degas.
Valleys and gorges
You’re also within easy reach of the Tarn river gorges and Lot valleys. Make a detour to the incredibly beautiful villages of Rocamadour and St Cirq Lapopie in the Lot – some of the most photogenic in France.
MAKE A DATE
The skies around Carcassonne light up with spectacular fireworks in celebration of Bastille Day.
Get your dancing shoes on for the Tempo Latino salsa festival in Vic-Fezensac.
Tap your foot at the Soreze Music festival.
The Jazz Festival in Marciac (78km) is sure to get you rocking.
MIDI PYRENEES ROMANCE
Watch a candlelit procession at Lourdes and enjoy a candlelit dinner together afterwards.
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