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).


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.


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.


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 (304 objects in alphabetical order)


Ax-les-Thermes – SPA and ski resort

Bishops’ Palace in Saint-Lizier

De la Hille castle: a place related to WW II

Foix – the most touristy city of Ariège

Foix castle: the main citadel of the county of Foix

Les Bains Couloubret SPA resort

Lombrives caves are the widest in Europe

Lordat castle

Miglos castle

Mirepoix and its famous arcaded market square

Montségur castle – the site of the Cathars

Niaux cave in Ariege: a Masterpiece of Paleolithic Art

Orgeix castle on the Campauleil lake

Pailhes Castle – historical monument


Prehistoric park in Tarascon-sur-Ariège

Roquefixade – a Cathar castle


Tarascon-sur-Ariège – former industrial center of Ariège


Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse

Aguilar – a Cathar castle

Alet-les-Bains and the house of Nostradamus

Arques castle – historical monument

Belflou Castle – historical monument

Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Hilaire

Cabezac castle and its wineries

Castelnaudary – a strategic point during the Crusade against the Cathars

Carcassonne – UNESCO heritage

Cavanac castle – historical monument

Caunes-Minervois abbey

Coustaussa castle

Cubières castle and its abbey

Cucugnan and its mill

De Joyeuse Duces’ castle – a hotel with a rich history

Durban castle – historical monument

Espéraza Dinosaur Museum – the first Dinosaur Museum in France

Fanjeaux and its metal installations

Fontfroide abbey

Quéribus – a Cathar castle

Quillan – a historical town, known by green tourism lovers

Quillan Castle – a French defense mechanism against Aragon

Lastours castles, the Orbeil Valley’s “inseparable guardian brothers”

Limoux – the birthplace of sparkling wine

Monastery of Notre-Dame-de-Prouille – cradle of the Dominicans

Montolieu – a French Village of books

Moulin paper mill in Brousse

Museum of the Machine Dolls

Narbonne and its Canal de la Robine

Notre Dame d’Alet Benedictine Abbey ruins

Notre Dame de Marceille Basilica

Padern – a Cathar castle

Peyrepertuse – a Cathar castle

Puilaurens – a Cathar castle

Puivert – a Cathar Castle

Rennes-le-Château keeps the Holy Grail’s secrets

Rennes-les-Bains city

Rennes-les-Bains SPA resort

Saint-Martin de Toques castle and its wineries

Saint-Papoul Abbey

Saissac – a Cathar castle

Villelongue Abbey

Villerouge-Termenès castle


Bonneval Abbey and its chocolate factory

Bosc castle – family home of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Cabrières castle

Combret and its colors

Foissac – an Upper Palaeolithic cave

Graves castle

Labro Castle

La Garde castle – historical monument

Loc-Dieu Abbey

Lugagnac castle

Masse tower

Metal installations in Estaing

Millau and its belfry

Millau Viaduct – the tallest bridge in the world 

Notre-Dame de Rodez cathedral – national monument

Onet-le-Château castle

Rodez – prefecture of the department of Aveyron

Taurines castle

Saint-Affrique and its church

Saint-Izaire and its castle

Saint-Sépulcre de Villeneuve church

Salles-la-Source and its waterfall

Salomon castle

Villefranche-de-Rouergue – city of art and history

Villeneuve-d’Aveyron – bastide city


Automobile Museum of Provence

Nîmes and its Roman heritage


Aeroscopia – a French aerospace museum

Bagnères-de-Luchon – SPA and ski resort


Mauvaisin castle

Old wings – aviation museum

Saint-Félix-Lauragais – birthplace of Déodat de Séverac 


Space City in Toulouse

Toulouse, the pink city

Vaux castle


Auch – the capital of the former Gascony region

Boulaur Abbey

Busca-Maniban castle and its wineries

Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac


Cassaigne castle

Condom-en-Armagnac – an important stop on the Camino de Santiago

Éauze – the capital of Armagnac

Flaran Abbey

Lavardens Castle

L’Isle-Jourdain and its bell tower

Lombez and its Sainte-Marie cathedral

Mansencôme castle


Sainte-Marie d’Auch Cathedral

Saint-Pierre de Condom Cathedral

Valence-sur-Baïse and its river tours


Agel Castle

Béziers – one of the oldest cities in France

Cassan castle – “Small Versailles of Languedoc”

Castle of the Archbishops of Narbonne

Collegiate Church of Saint-Paul in Clermont-l’Hérault

Domain Château Les Sacristains

D’O Castle and its park

Flaugergues castle – historical monument

Gellone Abbey – UNESCO heritage

Girard castle

Grammont castle and 90 hectares of cedar forest

Grézan castle nicknamed “Little Carcassonne”

Guilhem castle built for the Lords of Clermont-l’Hérault

Jonquières castle – one of the oldest family wine estates in Languedoc

International toy museum in Pézenas

Lézignan-la-Cèbe castle

Mallet castle

Malmont castle and its wineries

Margon castle – the imposing 12th century fortress

Maureilhan castle – historical monument

Montpellier and its university

Museum-Park devoted to dinosaurs near Montpellier

Mogère castle designed by Jean Giral

Pézenas known for its connection with Molières

Pont du Diable – UNESCO heritage

Saint-Félix-de-Montceau abbey – historical monument

Saint-Michel de Grandmont Priory

Valmagne Abbey with its wineries


Assier castle

Bousquet castle

Cabrerets and its castle

Cahors and its cathedral

Figeac – city of art and history

Geniez castle

Lacapelle-Marival and its castle

Pech Merle cave and its paintings


Arreau and its hiking routes

Balnéa Spa – the leading thermal water relaxation complex in Loudenvielle

Lourdes – the second most important tourist center of France after Paris 

Pic du Midi – the starry sky international reserve 

Saint-Lary-Soulan included in the Pyrenees National Park

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

Soum castle


Abbey of Arles-sur-Tech

Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda SPA resort


Aubiry – an eclectic Neo-Baroque castle

Canigou Peak – the National Symbol of Catalonia

Cape Cerbère lighthouse

Céret and its cherries and bullfighting tradition

Cornellà del Bercol castle and its wineries

Dorres Roman SPA Baths

Font-Romeu – SKI resort

Fort de Bellegarde is a 17th-century fortification on the border between France and Spain

Fort Liberia designed by Vauban

Grandes Canalettes Cave: a trip to another world

Llo SPA resort

Mont-Louis designed by Vauban

Odeillo solar furnace

Perpignan – a former capital of the Kingdom of Majorca

Prades with its views on Canigou

Royal Castle of Collioure

Saint Elm Castle – part of the sea surveillance structures to defend Catalan Countries

Saint-Martin du Canigou Abbey – historical monument

Saint-Thomas-les-Bains SPA resort

Salses fortress

SPA town of Molitg-les-Bains

Vernet-les-Bains and its SPA resort

Yellow Train


Albi – an important stop on the Camino de Santiago

Brassac and its bridge

Castres and its architecture

Cayla castle-museum

Gaillac and its abbey

Lisle-sur-Tarn and its arcades main square

Mauriac castle

Mazamet – the “capital” of the majestic Montagne Noire massif

Rabastens and its colors

Saint-Benoît d’En Calcat Abbey

Sainte-Cécile d’Albi Cathedral

Saint-Scholastique Abbey

Saint-Sulpice church

Salettes castle

Sorèze and its abbey church


Belleperche Abbey

Castelsagrat and its arcades

Caylus and its installations

Goudourville castle

Gramont castle

Human Figurines from Auvillar


Montricoux and its castle

Reine Margot castle

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val lies on one of the ancient pilgrim routes of the Camino de Santiago

Saint-Pierre de Moissac Abbey

Varen and its castle

Natural objects (rivers, lakes, mountains)

Aude river

Aveyron river

Baïse river

Canal du Midi – UNESCO heritage

Les Angles and Matemale lake: activities

Massif Carlit

Massif Central

Ganguise lake and its water activities

Garonne river – one of the few rivers in the world with a tidal bore

Génos-Loudenvielle lake and its activities

Lot river


Salagou lake known for its red soil

Tarn river

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

  • Le Grau-du-Roi (Port-Camargue)

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)

  • Aiguèze
  • La Roque-sur-Cèze
  • Lussan
  • Montclus

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)

From 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 ...