From Canals to Castles in the Midi-Pyrénées
The Midi-Pyrénées area of France is a wonderful holiday destination that offers a wealth of outdoor activities and sites to visit for families. This landlocked former region - now a part of Occitanie - shares a southern border with Spain. The celebrated city of Toulouse is the capital.
In Toulouse alone, there are gardens, museums, canals and many other attractions to see. You can spend a few days exploring the city, perhaps starting with the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden that offers a pleasant spot to stroll and eat a picnic lunch.
Before or after enjoying family time in the park, or for another day, the nearby Muséum de Toulouse hosts natural history exhibits with many preserved creatures on display to delight kids. The museum is even free on the first Sunday of each month. The Canal de Brienne offers a spot to overlook the point where the Garonne River connects with the Canal du Midi and the Canal de Garonne.
Outside of Toulouse, the Midi-Pyrénées area boasts diverse landscapes, from mountains and valleys to lakes, rivers and gorges.
At Pyrénées National Park, families can stroll or cycle through the mountains in hopes of spotting some local wildlife. Pyrenean frogs, minks and bears are among the many animals that live in the park. The Train d’Artouste also offers a chance to try and spot this wildlife, as well as eagles and vultures. The train runs a narrow path over 10 kilometers.
In Ayzac-Ost, children can view animals at the Parc Animalier des Pyrénées zoo, which houses wolves, monkeys and marmots, among others.
If your family can handle heights, a ride in the Pic du Midi cable car in La Mongie offers spectacular views over the area. The car climbs an altitude of 2,877 meters in just 15 minutes.
For snow bunnies, there is the nearby Grand Tourmalet ski resort. The resort has 69 slopes over 100 kilometers, with a peak altitude of 2,500 meters. There are also several slopes for beginning skiers. Other popular ski resorts in the Midi-Pyrénées include the Saint-Lary-Soulan, Les Angles and Peyragudes.
You will find plenty of opportunities to explore culture at castles, museums and other sites. The Château de Cénevières is a medieval castle, dating from the 13th to 16th centuries. The castle is located 6 kilometers from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and overlooks the Lot valley. Other notable castles are the Château de Gramont and the Château de Najac.
For museums, kids can explore agricultural tools and machines at the Musée du Machinisme Agricole et Automobile in Salviac. In Montauban, the Musée des Jouets displays toys, from dolls to trains. The latter museum also offers children pieces with corresponding plans for a chance to build their own toys. A holiday home in Midi-Pyrenees allows for varied, fun family activities.