Exceptional Natural Heritage
From the Dordogne valley to the Mediterranean, the South of France boasts a variety of different landscapes. There are mountainous regions for winter sports, nature walks and thermal spas, along with broad plains and sweeping hillsides, scrublands, as well as beaches and ports on a coastline that runs for 220km along the Golfe du Lion.
Remarkable biodiversity and protected natural spaces provide the region with a unique brand of easy living, now France’s 4th-most popular tourist destination.
From the Midi Canal to the cirque of Gavarnie, from Albi to Causse du Larzac, our region is overflowing with extraordinary natural and man-made spaces. Prehistoric sites such as Tautavel and ancient structures like the Pont du Gard, the medieval cities of Carcassonne and Rocamadour, and Cathar castles rub shoulders with exceptional contemporary structures such as the Millau viaduct.
The wealth of our shared heritage has been internationally recognised, as eight sites around the region have been listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.
This cultural wealth is also evident in our many museums and contemporary art centres. It is expressed through our cultural vitality, with a variety of music, dance, theatre and circus events available every year, as well as 400 festivals dotted throughout our local regions in both towns and rural communities. This culture is also reflected in lively festivals and traditions, such as tambourello and nine-pin skittles, as well as nautical jousting in Sète and the Camarguais bull chase. Finally, our culture is transposed through our Occitan and Catalan cultures and languages, which are supported by regional investment.
The art of good living in south of France is also evident in the region’s vast culinary wealth. From the region that brought you Roquefort cheese (named as France’s first ever ‘protected designation of origin’ product in 1925), a vast range of quality produce is on offer: meats, fruits, cheeses, cured meats, fish and seafood, from Gascon chickens to Bigorre black pigs, foie gras from the Gers to authentic Toulouse cassoulet, Thau oysters to Nîmes fish paté…
Occitanie is home to more quality-labelled products than any other European region, with over 300, such as Label Rouge, Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication and Organic. Enjoy a stroll through the local markets to discover the infinite culinary wealth of our local landscapes. For tastings, there’s no shortage of quality restaurants: The Region has 39 Michelin-starred chefs, three of whom are featured in the 2017 Guide.
Good living and amazing cuisine are found all over the wine country. With its 280,000 hectares of vineyards and a wide range of grape varieties, ours is still the world’s largest winemaking region.
No less than 44 protected designation of origins (PDO) and 36 protected geographical indications (PGI) reflect the variety of exceptional wines on offer: sparkling and sweet varieties, reds, rosés, whites, liqueurs and Armagnacs are all brought to life in the region.