The Midi-Pyrenees is a region in France that has no historical or political background; it was created as a “zone of influence” for the regional capital, Toulouse, in the mid 20th century. It is made up of several different French regions, those mainly being Languedoc, Gascony, and Rouergue. Because most of the southern regions of France are later inventions around a metropolis, the smaller towns tend to identify with the old provinces rather than the new cities. As a result of this, you will find that even though a town may be part of Midi-Pyrenees, it identifies with the Languedoc because its closer and was once a part of that region. You will find people that still speak Occitan, the old language, also.
The largest city in the region is Toulouse; other large cities are Tarbes, Albi, and Cahors. The easiest way to get to the Midi-Pyrenees region is through Toulouse. You can fly here from Paris Orly in just over an hour. A train from Paris Austerlitz or Montparnasse takes on average seven hours. If you are here to explore outside of the city, you might prefer your own transport, but it is not necessary. There are local buses that can take you between towns. If you have plans to hike or want to go on your own schedule, a car is best. You can hire them from the Toulouse Airport.
Most hostels in the Midi-Pyrenees region are found in Toulouse, it is after all the regional and economic capital. Look for the words “auberge de jeunesse,” because that means “hostel” in French. Some of the smaller towns, particularly the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, have hostels. If you are staying in a small town, expect the hostels to be very basic!
The Midi-Pyrenees region is France’s largest and least populated region, but it packs a big punch. One of the biggest draws to the region is the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is supposed to have been seen. Every year, millions of Catholics visit the Grotto of Massabielle to pay homage to the mother of Jesus. If you are planning to visit the Midi-Pyrenees region around this time, you should book your hostel in advance. The region also has excellent hiking in the Pyrenees mountains. Some of the trails meet up with the St James Way and the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage routes.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Midi-Pyrénées hostels. Welcome.