Conquest. Photo: CRT Midi Pyrenees

There are 26 Grands Sites in Midi-Pyrénées… Here is our choice of the top 12.

Related articles: Great Destinations: Midi-Pyrénées, Lighting the Way

CONQUES, AVEYRON

The Abbey of Sainte-Foy is the focal point for this maze of narrow streets and ancient houses nestled in a deep valley. Labelled one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, Conques is a popular stop on the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. www.tourisme-conques.fr

Rocamadour

ROCAMADOUR, LOT

A riverside village with pilgrims’ chapels built into the base of a sheer cliff and a steep path that leads to the cliff-top church, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is still an active place of worship. If you don’t fancy the climb you can take the lift! www.visit-dordogne-valley.co.uk

Saint-Cirq Lapopie

SAINT-CIRQ LAPOPIE, LOT

Head to this medieval town with cobbled streets, Gothic façades and fortified gateways, perched on a cliff 100 metres above the river Lot and close to painted caves at Pech Merle. You’ll find restaurants majoring on local duck products and craft shops. www.saint-cirqlapopie.co.uk

Montauban

MONTAUBAN, TARN-ET-GARONNE

Relax at a café on place Nationale, visit the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de- l’Assomption, and the Ingres Museum in the former episcopal palace. Walk the narrow streets of pink brick buildings to the banks of the Tarn. www.montauban-tourisme.com

Grotte de Niaux. Photo: CDT Ariege Pyrenees/ B Benoit

GROTTE DE NIAUX, ARIÈGE

Just one element of the ‘Ariège collection’, which also includes the medieval Château de Foix, the Grotte du Mas-d’Azil, and the Parc de la Préhistoire, the Grotte de Niaux offers a wonderful insight into the daily life of our Magdalenian ancestors. www.sites-touristiques-ariege.co.uk

Place du Capitole, Toulouse

TOULOUSE, HAUTE-GARONNE

The former capital of Midi-Pyrénées is now the capital of Occitanie. Visit the place du Capitole, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the Garonne quaysides, and, of course, the aerospace centres. Toulouse is the perfect city break. www.toulouse-visit.com

Jardin de la Berbie, Albi

ALBI, TARN

Famous for its UNESCO-listed episcopal quarter around the Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile, the Toulouse-Lautrec museum and the extraordinary bishops’ palace garden, it’s also home to a fashion museum and contemporary art centre. www.albi-tourisme.fr

Photo: Cordes-sur-Ciel Tourism Office

CORDES-SUR-CIEL, TARN

Catch it from a distance when the hilltop peeps through a sea of cloud; then enter to wander steep streets lined with Gothic houses. Albert Camus wrote that the traveller who saw a summer’s night sky at Cordes need travel no further. www.cordessurciel.fr

Pont Valentre, Cahors

CAHORS, LOT

The Ville d’Art et d’Histoire on the banks of the Lot is on the pilgrims’ route to Compostela. Visit Saint-Étienne cathedral and the turreted 14th-century Pont Valentré, both UNESCO-listed. Watch out for secret gardens scattered around town. www.holidays-cahors.co.uk

Auch, capital of the Gers department

AUCH, GERS

The heart of historic Gascony, it is dominated by the UNESCO-listed Sainte-Marie cathedral. Monumental steps link the upper and lower towns, an invitation to explore on foot. Don’t miss the 18th-century theatre and statue of D’Artagnan. www.auch-tourisme.com

Millau Viaduct

MILLAU VIADUCT, AVEYRON

The world’s tallest bridge was designed by Norman Foster and Michel Virlogeux and opened in December 2004. The Viaduc Expo in the rest area has been refreshed to create a new, interactive museum about the bridge. www.leviaducdemillau.com

Pic du Midi

PIC DU MIDI, HAUTES-PYRÉNÉES

Take the cable car all the way to the summit at 2,877 metres for views along the Pyrénées and over the plains towards the Massif Central. You haven’t seen the Pyrénées until you’ve seen them from up here. www.picdumidi.com

From France Today magazine

 

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