The Midi Pyrenees is France's largest region, bigger than both Belgium and Switzerland yet home to fewer than two million people. It's a young region, created during the French government's regionalisation campaign of the 1970s, and thus the Midi Pyrenees share many different and distinct identities.
One of the most distinctive variations is in the Midi Pyrenees architecture. In the south red tiled roofs signal a slow ascent into southern Europe, whilst in the north the familiar French slate dominates. Toulouse is the region's cosmopolitan capital and economic hub. It's also home to one-third of the region's population and is the gateway to this otherwise sparse and beautifully rural southern region.
The Midi Pyrenees region is, perhaps unsurprisingly, France's most important agricultural region. The north is largely dominated by low-lying farmland and it produces some of France's most distinctive products beneath the beating southern sun. Both Armagnac and Roquefort cheese are local creations and arrive at local markets in huge quantities.
Meanwhile in the south, the Pyrenees rises sharply to a height of 3,000 metres. Popular with hikers in summer and skiers in winter, this is rugged mountain country at its best - and a trip here is well worth including in a tailor-made holiday.