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Occitanie is the southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France, established on January 1, 2016, through the amalgamation of the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The region derives its name from the broader cultural and historical area of Occitania, which encompasses the southern third of France. Present-day Occitanie shares similarities in territory with the domains ruled by the Counts of Toulouse during the 12th and 13th centuries.[3] The region has a considerable cultural history rooted in the Occitan language and heritage. Historically, it was a hub for troubadours who crafted lyrical poems, and it was home to the Cathars, a Christian sect opposing the Roman Church's corruption. Despite suppression, Occitan culture persists, with ongoing language revival efforts and a literary scene. Toulouse, Occitanie's capital city, hosts the world's oldest literary society. Despite the decline of its influence after the 13th century, Occitania's identity endures to this day through its language, literature, and cultural practices.[10] Toulouse, the aforementioned capital city, features an aerospace industry and is home to Airbus and other major companies. Historically significant, it was a Visigothic and Languedoc capital and later developed into an educational hub, hosting one of Europe's oldest universities and numerous institutions. Toulouse's architecture is characterized by pinkish terracotta bricks, earning it the nickname "The Pink City." Its UNESCO-listed sites include the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin.[11]

What Occitanie is known for

Toulouse, the vibrant capital of Occitania, attracts visitors with its history spanning over 2000 years. Visitors can take a tour of Toulouse's landmarks, including the Saint-Sernin Basilica and Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques—both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Another local landmark is Jacobin Convent and the Capitole, housing both the Town Hall and Opera. For those who enjoy aeronautics and space, Toulouse offers the Cité de l’Espace to the Aéroscopia Museum and Airbus factories. Families can explore La Piste des Géants, a cultural site focused on aviation history. Other attractions are Quai des Savoirs, the Natural History Museum, and Garonne docks.[7]

Montpellier, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, has experienced growth since the 1990s, resulting in a mix of modern and historic districts. Home to the University of Montpellier, the city has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by dry summers and mild winters. While not directly on the beach, Montpellier is accessible to coastal areas and villages via public transport. The Old Town, known as Écusson, features winding streets lined with stone arches, preserving its historical heritage. Prominent attractions include La Promenade du Peyrou—exhibiting the Château d'Eau and a statue of Louis XIV—and Le Jardin des Plantes, France's oldest botanical garden. Tourists often visit the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre and the Place de la Comédie. The Antigone District showcases neo-classical architecture, while La Tour de la Babote has a variety of dining options.[8]

Occitanie offers several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of them being the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct near Nîmes, standing as a testament to ancient engineering prowess. The Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees is another UNESCO-protected natural site, showcasing Europe's highest waterfall and geological significance. Albi, known as the "pink city," attracts people with its Cathar architecture and historic center. Furthermore, Carcassonne is also protected by UNESCO due to its medieval center, featuring a citadel with 52 towers. Lastly, the Santiago de Compostela routes, including those through Arles, Puy-en-Velay, and the Piedmonts, showcase religious landmarks such as the Saint-Sernin Basilica in Toulouse and the Saint-Fulcran Cathedral in Lodève. These routes, with their historic bridges and hospices, offer a spiritual journey through medieval Europe and are recognized by UNESCO for their cultural significance.[9]


Occitanie, the second-largest region in mainland France, spans an area of 72,724 square kilometers with a population of 5,845,102 residents as of 2017. It features a Mediterranean coastline to the southeast and shares borders with Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to the east, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the northeast, and Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the west and northwest. It also shares borders with Andorra and Spain to the south. The region comprises provinces and territories with diverse cultural and historical backgrounds, including Languedoc, Països Catalans, the County of Foix, Gascony, and Guiana. Historically, these areas fell under the jurisdiction of the Parlement of Toulouse. Occitania, known for its warm climate, offers a landscape of natural diversity, from the Canal du Midi to the Pyrenees.[3]

The Grands Causses Regional Natural Park, established in 1995 in southern Aveyron, contributes to one of Europe's largest natural areas alongside neighboring parks. Its diverse landscapes include the limestone plateaus of the Causses, crossed by gorges such as the Tarn and Jonte, and the Avant-Causses with valleys known for producing Roquefort cheese. The region also features the hills of Les Rougiers and forested mountains. Its flora is varied due to its Mediterranean, continental, and mountain climates, supporting diverse species such as the causses butterwort and black vultures. Moreover, the Grands Causses area provides vernacular heritage, with castles, Templar cities, and troglodyte cellars.[4] Another protected area within Occitanie is Regional Natural Park, found at the heart of the Pyrenees Massif, stretching from the Pre-Pyrenees in the north to the Spanish and Andorran border in the south, encompassing diverse landscapes of limestone hillsides and valleys. Renowned for its untouched ecosystem, the park harbors a natural heritage with various species, such as the Isard and Bearded Vulture, as well as the historical sites of Niaux and Saint-Lizier. Human activities, namely agriculture and pastoralism, developed there, adding to its cultural significance.[5]

Toulouse features a temperate humid subtropical climate characterized by rainfalls, contributing to its greenery, particularly noticeable in the spring season. Summers in Toulouse are generally warm and dry, while winters remain mild, typical of Southern France. Summer, spanning from June to September, sees the highest temperatures, with August being the warmest month, averaging a maximum temperature of 29°C. Conversely, January stands as the coldest month, with an average maximum temperature of 11°C. May tends to be the wettest month, receiving 86 millimeters of rainfall, while July is the driest, with precipitation totaling 56 millimeters.[6]


Occitania's historical region, historically recognized for its Occitan language, spans the southern third of France, parts of Spain, Monaco, and some areas in Italy. With a population of 16 million, up to 800,000 individuals speak Occitan, alongside French, Piedmontese, Catalan, Spanish, and Italian. Initially united as the Seven Provinces during Roman times, Occitania's linguistic and cultural identity has persisted since the Middle Ages. Its name appeared in Latin texts as early as the 13th century. In 2016, the administrative region of Occitanie was established in France, succeeding Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon, representing a fraction of historical Occitania.[1]

Toulouse, situated in southern France, serves as the capital of the Haute-Garonne département within the Occitanie région. Positioned at the confluence of the Canal Latéral à la Garonne and the Midi Canal, it lies where the Garonne River bends northwest from the foothills of the Pyrenees. With roots dating back to ancient times, Toulouse, known as Tolosa during the Roman era, was a stronghold of the Volcae Tectosages. It developed into the capital of the Visigoths from 419 to 507 CE before being captured by Clovis I. Throughout history, Toulouse played various roles, enduring sieges, serving as a Carolingian kingdom center, and witnessing religious conflicts during the Wars of Religion. Notably, it was the site of Marshal Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult's unsuccessful battle against Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, on April 10, 1814, marking the end of the Peninsular War.[2]

Today, Occitanie is the southernmost administrative region of mainland France, formed on January 1, 2016, by merging the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The name was officially approved by the Council of State on September 28, 2016, and came into effect on September 30, 2016. This administrative entity is named after the broader cultural and historical region of Occitania, which encompasses the southern third of France. The modern region closely corresponds to the territory once governed by the Counts of Toulouse during the 12th and 13th centuries. The Occitan cross, derived from the banner of arms of the Counts of Toulouse, serves as a cultural symbol in the region.[3]