Occitania (Occitanie in French) is an administrative region in the South of France resulting from the merger of the former Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions. Created by the territorial reform of 2014, it has 13 departments. The name of the region, whose capital is Toulouse, has been official since September 28, 2016 and effective since September 30, 2016.

The region covers 72,724 km2 and is comparable to Ireland, making it the third largest region in France (behind New Aquitaine and Guyana), as well as the second in mainland France. It has 6,101,005 inhabitants (municipal population as of January 1, 2023) and thus constitutes the fifth most populous French (and metropolitan) region.

Its population density is lower than the average for metropolitan France, with 84 inhabitants/km2, the sixth lowest density among French regions (and the fourth lowest among metropolitan regions). However, its population is very unevenly distributed, with two major metropolises (Toulouse and Montpellier), a densely populated Mediterranean coastline and rural regions belonging to the “diagonal of the void.”

Its largest city is Toulouse, which is also the regional prefecture, while the second regional metropolis, Montpellier, maintains several administrations. The headquarters, administrations and general management of the regional council are in Toulouse; the deliberative assemblies are held in Montpellier.

With a maritime facade on the Mediterranean Sea, it brings together territories of the Aquitaine Basin to the west (Gers, northern Hautes-Pyrénées and Ariège, center and north of Haute-Garonne, center and west of Tarn-et-Garonne, west of the Tarn, south of the Lot), the Pyrenees to the south (south of the Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège, south of Aude and west of the Pyrénées-Orientales), the Massif central to the north (Aveyron and Lozère, center and north of the Lot, east of Tarn-et-Garonne and Tarn, north of Aude, Hérault and Gard) and the Mediterranean basin to the east (east of the Pyrénées-Orientales and Aude, southern Hérault and Gard).

It is bordered by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regions to the west, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the north and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur to the east, as well as Spain (and Catalonia) and Andorra to the south.

Occitania is also the historical region in Southern Europe where the Occitan language was historically spoken and where it is occasionally used as a second language. This cultural area roughly encompasses much of the southern third of France (except the French Basque Country and French Catalonia) as well as part of Spain (Aran Valley), Monaco and parts of Italy (Occitan Valleys).

Climate

The Occitania region straddles three major climatic areas: the Languedoc coast is subject to the Mediterranean climate (Csa, even tending towards Csb in certain areas, according to the Köppen classification); the Aquitaine Basin has a slightly warmer oceanic climate because it is further south (Aquitaine oceanic climate, Cfb and Cfa of Köppen); the Massif Central and the Pyrenees have a climate under mountain influence (only the highest peaks of the Pyrenees have a mountain climate). The area located between Toulouse and the Lauragais’ threshold is subject to a Mediterranean climate under both oceanic and mountainous influence.

Administrative Structure

The region includes thirteen departments (Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hérault, Lot, Lozère, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne) which are divided into 4454 communes. The largest (by area and population) is Haute-Garonne, with a Toulouse capital.

Economy

The standard of living in Occitania is lower than the national average: in 2022, the unemployment rate was 9.30% and the poverty rate was 16.20%. Nearly 500,000 people also live just above the threshold of poverty. Two departments of Occitania have the highest unemployment rates in mainland France, the Pyrénées-Orientales and Hérault, while Lozère has one of the lowest.

Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer located in Blagnac (a suburb of Toulouse) and a division wholly owned by the industrial group Airbus, manufactures around half of the airplanes produced in the world and is Boeing’s main competitor.

In the late 1960s, Airbus was founded as a consortium by European manufacturers. Airbus Industrie became a SAS (simplified joint stock company) in 2001 and, in 2014, a subsidiary of EADS (renamed Airbus Group). Between 2001 and 2006, BAE Systems owned 20% of Airbus.

Tourism

Occitania is the 4th largest tourist region in France, with 13 billion euros in tourist revenue and 181 million annual nights on average, including 23 million in the open air , with 14.2 million tourists on the coast, including 7 million foreigners and 15 million in hotels.

• First for outdoor hotels (for capacity and attendance), with 1,326 campsites, including 159,700 pitches (65% of foreign tourists prefer camping)
• First for thermal spas (in establishments: approximately 166,000 spa guests)
• Fourth in number of hotel rooms, with 65,700 rooms for 2,037 hotels (3.8 million foreign tourists, including 2.1 million in Lourdes)
• Fourth in tourism jobs (87,500)

The region is home to two mountain ranges: The Pyrenees, which borders Spain and Andorra, where the Pyrenees resorts, located in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne, Ariège, Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales, spread their alpine ski slopes between 1,400 and 2,500 m altitude. The highest slope is in Piau-Engaly, which reaches an altitude of 2,600 m. The Massif Central, where the resorts are located in Aveyron and Lozère, have slopes which are between 1,100 m and 1,400 m.

Main attractions by departments (327 objects in alphabetical order)

Ariège

Aude

Aveyron

Gard

Haute-Garonne

Gers

Hérault

Lot

Hautes-Pyrénées

Pyrénées-Orientales

Tarn

Tarn-et-Garonne

Natural objects (rivers, lakes, mountains)

Sea resorts, beaches and marinas (by departments from south to north)

31 municipalities in the Occitania region are bordered by the Mediterranean Sea with its 215 km of coastline, 45,000 hectares of ponds and lagoons and a natural marine park in Banyuls-sur-Mer.

Pyrénées-Orientales department

Aude department

Hérault department

Gard department

See here best sea and ocean resorts of France and Spain (223 objects)

The Most Beautiful Villages of France list (by departments)

Ariège (1 village)

Aude (1 village)

Aveyron (10 villages)

Gard (4 villages)

Haute-Garonne (1 village)

  • Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges

Gers (6 villages)

Hérault (3 villages)

Lot (8 villages)

Lozère (3 villages)

  • La Garde-Guérin
  • Le Malzieu-Ville
  • Sainte-Enimie

Hautes-Pyrénées (0 villages)

Pyrénées-Orientales (6 villages)

Tarn (5 villages)

Tarn-et-Garonne (3 village)

Ski stations

In the Hautes-Pyrénées: Saint-Lary-SoulanDomaine du TourmaletPeyragudesCauteretsPiau-EngalyLuz-ArdidenGavarnie-GèdreHautacamNistos

In Haute-Garonne: Luchon-SuperbagnèresLe Mourtis

In Ariège: Mijanès-DonezanGuzet-neigeMonts d’OlmesAx 3 DomainesAscou-PailhèresGoulier NeigeÉtang de LersPlateau de Beille.

In Aude: Camurac.

In the Pyrénées-Orientales: Les AnglesFont-Romeu – Bolquère – Pyrénées 2000FormiguèresPorté-PuymorensPuyvaladorLa QuillaneErr-PuigmalEspace Cambre d’Aze.

See here all ski resorts of the Pyrenees

See also former Gascony region

See also former Languedoc region

See also Pyrenees travel guide

See also France travel guide

See also Spain travel guide

Shortest distances to Toulouse from the main cities of France (capitals of regions)

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Lyon): 4 hr 57 min (538 km) via A7, A9 and A61

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Dijon): 6 hr 15 min (673 km) via A20

Bretagne (Rennes): 6 hr 21 min (705 km) via A10 and A62

Centre-Val de Loire (Orléans): 5 hr 8 min (554 km) via A20

Grand Est (Strasbourg): 8 hr 47 min (971 km) via A36

Hauts-de-France (Lille): 8 hr 26 min (894 km) via A20

Île-de-France (Paris): 6 hr 21 min (678 km) via A20

Normandie (Rouen): 7 hr 17 min (785 km) via A20

Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Bordeaux): 2 hr 24 min (244 km) via A62

Pays de la Loire (Nantes): 5 hr 11 min (585 km) via A83, A10 and A62

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Marseille): 3 hr 51 min (404 km) via A9 and A61

Main facts

GPS coordinates: 43.708°N 1.060°E

Area: 72,724 km²

Altitude: ≅380 m above sea level

Population: 6 022 176

Language: French, Occitan, Catalan

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time zone: UTC+01:00 (CET)

ISO 3166 code: FR-OCC

Read more: Interesting places in the Pyrenees and around with Jane Cautch ...