Like its winegrowers, Southwest France has preserved its authentic accents, which make for an epicurean paradise! From the banks of the Garonne River to the Lot Valley, through the Basque Country, the Pyrenees and Gascony, to the gates of Toulouse, the Southwest offers a formidable palette of sensory experiences, history, natural and architectural heritage sites, culinary riches, and culture.
2000 years of history
The Southwest region was first cultivated by the Romans and had a flourishing wine trade long before the Bordeaux area was planted. As the port city of Bordeaux became established, wines from the “High Country” would descend via the tributaires of the Dordogne and Garonne to be sent to markets along the Atlantic coast. The climate of the inland region was generally warmer and more favorable than in Bordeaux, allowing the grapes to be harvested earlier and the wines to be of a stronger alcohol level. Many Bordeaux wine merchants saw the wines of the “High Country” as a threat to their economic interest and during the 13th & 14th century a set of codes, known as the police des vins, were established which regulated the use of the port of Bordeaux for wine trading. The police des vins stated that no wine could be traded out of Bordeaux until the majority of Bordelais wine had already been sold. This had a devastating effect on the wine industry of the High Country with barrels of wines being stranded at Bordeaux warehouses for several weeks or months before they could be sold at much lower prices due to that year’s market already being saturated with wine. In many years another vintage would actually take place before the “High Country” wines were sold.*
Architectural and natural heritage
Occitania includes 8 sites listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Episcopal city of Albi, the city of Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, the Pont du Gard, the Vauban fortifications (Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis), the roads to Santiago de Compostela, and the vast cross-border mountainous area between France and Spain, Gavarnie-Mont Perdu.
Discover all the “Grands Sites” in Occitania, including 40 exceptional destinations!
A diversity of aromas
This unique diversity of grape varieties offers an inexhaustible potential in terms of sensory experience. The wines of the South-West possess subtle and varied aromas ranging from violet to truffle, pepper or grapefruit. Learn more!
Rich and varied cuisine
Looking for the right match between food and wine? The Occitanie region is the French region with the most food products under official signs of quality (AOP, IGP, labels, …). In the South-West, we enjoy: lamb from Aveyron or Quercy, free-range beef from Aubrac or Gascony, ham from Bayonne or Bigorre, veal from Aveyron and Ségala, fattened duck, Lot truffles, Quercy melon, Espelette chilli pepper, Agen prunes, Chasselas from Moissac, pink garlic from Lautrec, purple garlic from Cadours, cheeses such as Roquefort, Rocamadour, Ossau-Iraty, Bleu des Causses, Tomme des Pyrénées.
The diversity and the quality of these local products have favored the development of a typical and authentic regional cuisine that pairs wonderfully with the wines from Southwest France.
Discover some or our recipes!
Festivals and cultural events year round
On the cultural and festive level, our region offers you an ambitious calendar, with more than 200 festivals per year devoted to music, cinema, audiovisual, photography, astronomy, circus arts, … Some examples of international festivals with the Jazz in Marciac festival, the festival of sacred music in Sylvanès, the Déferlantes d’Argelès-sur-Mer, Montpellier Danse, Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, Rio Loco in Toulouse, etc…
You will also be able to visit one or more of the 700 museums that contribute to the cultural influence of our region. Some of them are part of the great museums of France. It is the case of the Fabre museum in Montpellier, the museum of modern art in Céret, the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi or the Soulages museum in Rodez.
All the essential events. Click here to see our list of festivals, traditional celebrations and sports events in Occitania!
*(Source: H. Johnson & J. Robinson The World Atlas of Wine, 2005, The Story of Wine, 1989)