France's largest region, situated in the South West of the country, is a favourite destination for hikers. The lush Gers countryside, green valleys of the Lot and the Aveyron, and the usually sunny weather make the region ideal for an activity holiday.
Besides the great outdoors, the Midi-Pyrénées also contains the city of Toulouse. La Ville Rose boasts a beautiful, café-lined central square, Le Capitole, the seat of Toulouse's city government since the twelfth century, and streets full of red-brick façade houses, hence the city's soubriquet.
Close-by to Toulouse is Albi, dominated by the imposing Sainte-Cécile Cathedral and Toulouse Lautrec Museum. Other towns to explore include wine-growing Gaillac and Cahors. Or you can simply relax and sample the local Armagnac and aperitif Floc de Gascogne as you watch the world go about its business.
The Ariege Pyrenees area which borders Spain, North of Perpignan, is an area of mountain peaks and secret valleys, full of tradition and culture. The wildlife reserves in the area are home to many endangered species - visit in June when the rhododendron is in flower and the mountains are at their most beautiful.
This area is also classic rock climbing terrain with sites such as the Dent d'Orlu and the Quie de Sinsat with over 120 routes between them. There are numerous mountain bike centres which cater for over 400 km of marked routes suitable both for families and the professional mountain-biker.
For the skiing enthusiast, the Ariege area has ten ski resorts which cater for downhill or cross country skiing, mainly at more than 200m altitude. Sites include Ascou-Pailheres, Ax-Bonascre, Guzet, Mijanes and the Monts d'Olmes.
The foothills of the Pyrenees are also home to many more prehistoric caves and grottoes. Visit the Lombrives caves and the Labouiche underground river, not to mention the spectacular underground complex at the La Vache cave. Make sure you visit the Parc Pyreneen de l'Art Prehistorique at Tarascon sur Ariege - an experience for all the family.
Visit also the Chateau de Montsegur and the Chateau de Foix which bear witness to centuries of feudal disputes in the area. Visit the medieval streets of Mirepoix and Roquefixade.
A personal selection of accommodation for a mountain holiday in France including the Pyrenees, Alps and the Vosges
A fine selection of spa breaks in France, perfect for a pampering stay with your girlfriends