In this post, I will share with you 5 stunning villages in Midi-Pyrenees, South-West France. All these villages and tows are accessible from Toulouse on a day trip (we covered all 5 villages in one day, but you might need a bit more time if you want to enjoy these villages a bit more).
French villages tend to attract
Exploring the villages on a day trip/weekend trip from Toulouse
If you haven’t been to Toulouse before, I recommend you to visit the city, because it’s as beautiful as the villages surrounding it. I have a post about the reasons to spend a weekend in Toulouse and (spoiler alert) – there are many! Toulouse is famous for its museums, beautiful streets and very friendly people. I would even call Toulouse one of the most underestimated cities in France! I liked it way more than Paris.
If you’re coming to Toulouse just for a weekend, you can explore the city in 1 day and then spend another day by hiring a car and visiting the best villages in the Midi-Pyrenees. For hiring a car, I recommend Avis, which is located in Toulouse airport. We almost always rent with Avis these days and get really nice and new cars. Another service provider I would recommend is Rentalcars.com – we rented with them a gazillion times and never had any issues.
Let’s get started with the best villages near Toulouse:
The village that impressed me most in Midi-Pyrenees is undoubtedly, Cordes-sur-Ciel. Located just 1 hour driving away from Toulouse, Cordes-sur-Ciel can be seen from far away due to its elevation (it’s located on a hill) and it’s really beautiful already from far away.
There is not that much parking space, so most probably, during the busy periods, you will have to walk to the village a bit longer. We visited all these charming French villages in Autumn, so we found parking without any issues and already quite close to the village itself, so we didn’t have to climb the entire hill.
Cordes-sur-Ciel is a charming Medieval village that looks almost intact (as if you were transported into the 17th century). The centre of Cordes-sur-Ciel has a lot of art and souvenir shops and plenty of lovely restaurants.
I recommend spending at least 2 hours in Cordes-sur-Ciel and if you’re planning to grab a bite there, maybe even more. In the times, when it’s sunny and warm, you can easily spend 1/2 day in Cordes-sur-Ciel, hence, I recommend exploring this one and the other most beautiful villages in South-West France in 2 days rather than 1.
Albi might be a bit too big to be called a village, it’s rather a small city or a decently-sized town. Nonetheless, Albi a beautiful place and it’s definitely worth visiting. The city centre is actually quite compact, so you don’t need more than 2-3 hours to explore all of Albi. Albi is especially famous because of its Cathedral (Saint Cecilia of Albi) that is almost 800 years old and it is very impressive inside. Also, the views of Albi from the river Tarn are definitely worth taking a couple of photos!
We had our lunch in Albi – there is a great food market almost on the main square of Albi. You won’t be able to miss it! At the market, there are quite a few stalls that sell food and downstairs, there is even an oyster and wine bar.
In Albi, there’s a nice food market (just near the cathedral), which is even open on Sundays (until 2 pm, however, most stalls close around 1 pm). You can try some local wines, charcuterie and pastries there.
Another one of the beautiful villages near Toulouse is Castelnau-de-Montmiral. It doesn’t have as many landmarks as other villages and towns listed here, however, it’s pretty by itself and in case you’re interested in fine dining, it has a restaurant included in the Michelin guide on the main square (prepare for pretty high prices and advance reservations though). Castelnau-de-Montmiral is such a small village that you won’t spend more than an hour there (most probably, way less, unless you decide to dine there).
Just like Albi, Montauban is rather a commute than a village and it has a population of 50,000 people. Depending on where you’re from, that could be almost nothing, however, Montauban is a bit bigger than a traditional French town or a village. Montauban has actually quite a few things to see and do, including just wandering around the city and enjoying the sunset over the river (guess, which one?) Tarn, of course. It has a very beautiful main square – Place Nationale, Ingres Museum and Montauban Cathedral.
If you’re in Montauban on Sunday evening, please be aware of the fact, that you won’t be able to eat anything from 3 pm to 7 pm, as that’s the way French restaurants work in smaller towns. Our plan was to have a dinner in Montauban, but we weren’t able to find anything that was open, so we had to drive to Toulouse to eat (it wasn’t a
Tarascon-sur-Ariege is one of my favourite villages in Midi-Pyrenees and I also consider it one of the most beautiful villages in France! Located on the way from Toulouse to Andorra, it’s a great place to go for a hike or for a walk. We spent a night in Tarascon-sur-Ariege, as we were coming back from Andorra quite late in the evening and Tarascon was a perfect place to stay in terms of geography. Tarascon-sur-Ariege might not have some famous sights like Albi or Montauban, however, it’s a charming little village that looks straight like from the Beauty and the Beast (musical) and if you climb to the small tower, you will see a gorgeous panorama of the town.
Where to stay in Midi-Pyrenees
Interested in other places we would recommend in France?
– We did this great road trip starting in Nice and visiting all the beautiful coastal towns in cities nearby (read about our experience in this post)
– We went to Marseille for a weekend a hiked to the most beautiful
– We spent a weekend in Toulouse and fell in love with it
– We visited all the most photogenic locations in Paris (worth a perfect shot)
– We enjoyed a stunning weekend in Bordeaux and found 10 reasons to visit this amazing city
– We found the most Instagrammable places in Bordeaux
– We explored the most beautiful places in South-West Germany and East France including Strasbourg and Colmar
– We discovered a hidden gem in France – Pau and also hiked in Gavarnie
Hope you liked this post! Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.