The Midi Pyrénées boasts eight departments with a variety of very attractive architecture and beautiful landscapes, many of which have the impressive range of the snow-capped Pyrenees as a backdrop. As its name suggests, it includes the middle section of these superb mountains. The climate is one of long hot summers and predominantly mild winters. The rainfall is mainly affected by proximity to the mountains or the sea. The Gers, certainly, with its green lush scenery has a more Atlantic climate and the further east you go - the drier the terrain becomes. The departments nearest to the mountains, bordering respectively Spain or Andorra - namely the Ariège, Haute Garonne and Hautes Pyrénées, offer easy access to year round leisure pursuits, whether it be skiing, hiking or observing nature, with a wide selection of flora and fauna, especially wild birds, prevalent in the area. Lourdes, in the Hautes Pyrénées, is famous for its pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Bernadette. It is little surprise that a 'View of the Pyrenees' is frequently high on the agenda of requirements of applicants searching for a property in this glorious region of Southern France.
Toulouse, the largest city in Haute Garonne, is a vast buzzing cultural centre with a University, a wealth of restaurants, hotels and boutiques, an international airport and school and the TGV train. It is known for its ubiquitous 'pink brick' buildings as 'La Cité Rose'. To the East are the hills and vineyards of the Tarn (notably those of Gaillac) and the autoroute leading to Albi, the capital of the Tarn and a cathedral city which was the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec. Beyond is the Aveyron with its rugged landscape and more remote hamlets and villages. The north is green and hilly and as it approaches the south, it becomes increasingly arid, rocky and wild. The relatively new autoroute to the north of Toulouse has now put the Lot, and Cahors with its vineyards in particular, within one hour's drive of Toulouse. The Quercy area and indeed the Lot valley is a very popular and attractive part of France with its distinctive white stone houses, often topped with a pigeonnier and the majority with canal tiled roofs.
The Tarn et Garonne spans the Bordeaux-Toulouse autoroute and borders the Gers to the South. This area is particularly well placed for access to the Toulouse/Bordeaux autoroute, Blagnac airport just west of Toulouse and the International School which has become incredibly popular in a comparatively short time. The northern Gers has long been the haunt of Parisians as the journey by TGV to Agen makes this region eminently accessible for weekends. The Gers is primarily an agricultural department and the valleys are wide with little hill-top hamlets and villages perched on the ridges, benefiting from the views of the mountains. Both the coast and ski resorts are 'day trip' options, adding to the many plus points of this popular department. Overall, this region has a rich history going back many decades as the many cave paintings, fortified bastides and medieval routes to Compostella indicate and it still remains relatively unspoilt. Copyright: Sarah Francis