A little administrative information
Administrative region of the South West of France, which southern limit is the border with Spain and the principality of Andorra, and covering the historical regions of Armagnac, Quercy, Rouergue and Albigeois.
For those who are deeply in love with Geology!!!
In the Midi-Pyrénées region, which is the largest in France, the relief may be divided in three sets:
The south west of "Massif central" and the limestone plateaus that prolong it; the valley of the Garonne river up to Toulouse, and the beginning of the Lauragais plateau; the Pyrénées and the plateaus before.
Those sets are crossed by many rivers, tributaries of the Garonne, which flow in the chalky or granite soils of the mountains. In the East, the "seuil de Naurouze (191 m)" is the limit between Western Midi (Aquitaine) and Eastern Midi (Méditerranée), and is an artificial limit in the waters of the "Canal du Midi" (which joins the Garonne river to the Mediterranean sea). Its traffic is often tourist and remains weak. The "Canal du Midi" prolongs itself to Bordeaux with another canal flowing aside the Garonne.
Midi-Pyrénées includes height "departments" :
Ariège, Aveyron, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Lot, Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarn, and Tarn-et-Garonne.
Its county seat is Toulouse, which is also the county seat of the "Haute-Garonne" department. Those height departments form the Academy of Toulouse (national education).
The courts of appeal of the region are in Agen, Montpellier, Pau and Toulouse.
It is the 4th Military region and the 3rd air force region.
Toulouse, Albi and Auch are archbishoprics, and Cahors, Rodez, Montauban, Pamiers, Tarbes and Lourdes are bishoprics.
It is an important activity in Midi-Pyrénées.
Stock breeding is varied: :
Sheep, pigs, and cows for milk and meat.
Mainly corn, wheat and barley. Vine growing is also important (Armagnac, Cahors, Gaillac, Frontonnais) and the region produces 3,2 millions hectoliters of wine per year.
In the valleys of the Garonne and of the Tarn rivers, and in high "Quercy", the fruit & vegetable productions have an important place. Those activities support a strong food industry specialized in luxury products, such as: "foie gras", truffles, Roquefort cheese, Armagnac, but also ewe's-milk cheese ("Cabécous" or "Rocamadours"), marmalades and compotes (companies Andros and Bouin in Biars in Lot, using the fruits of the valley of the Dordogne river).
The region has others industries, of ancient or high technology:
The traditional activities, such as the work of wool (Mazamet, Lavelanet), the work of leather and skins (Tarn, Aveyron), the coal beds (Decazeville, Carmaux today closed), the iron and steel metallurgy (Decazeville, Pamiers), the metallurgy (Decazeville, Castelsarrasin, aluminium in Lannemezan), are today undergoing a serious crisis.
The agglomeration of Toulouse is quite dynamic, which allowed it to resist the general crisis. It has therefore bet on the high tech industries to enhance its development, with such structures as:
Toulouse has then become the first aerospace complex in Europe. Aérospatiale, Airbus Industries and CNES-Espace, which are elaborating the Ariane (space rocket) program, or the Airbus planes, employ more than 11,000 workers. This dynamism allowed the development of spatial and military electronics companies (Thomson-CSF, Alcatel-Espace, Matra-Espace, ATE-GIAT).
Now the region tries to diversify its industrial activities in order not to be too dependent on aeronautics.
Second university site of France after Paris and its surroundings, Midi-Pyrénées has three universities:
Economy and Law [Université de Toulouse I - Droit et sciences sociales],
Languages and literature [Université de Toulouse II - le Mirail],
Sciences [Université de Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier]);
with 60 000 students and 10 000 searchers.
A great variety of sites encourages tourism in Midi-Pyrénées, with historical and culinary patrimonies, and the presence of the most important place in Christian pilgrimage (after Rome) with Lourdes, which is one of the most visited "tourist" site in France.
Tourists may therefore visit wonderful sites such as: the swallow hole of Padirac (Lot), or the cirque of Gavarnie (Pyrénées), prehistoric sites such as the cave of the Mas-d'Azil (Ariège) or the caves of Pech Merle, the medieval perched villages of Rocamadour and of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (Lot), medieval villages such as Cordes, numerous ancient cities such as Cahors (Lot), Villefranche - de - Rouergue(Aveyron) or Albi (Tarn). There also are thermal cities such as Ax - les - Thermes (Ariège), Bagnères-de-Luchon (Haute Garonne), or Bagnères - de - Bigorre (Hautes Pyrénées); or may practise rafting and canyoning on the rivers, or ski in the ski resorts (La Mongie, Saint - Lary, Barèges) of the region. The regional park of Haut - Languedoc preserves natural areas in the Black Mountain. At last, Toulouse, city of art and History, is all by herself of a great tourist interest.
The army has an important role in the local economy. The RAF (Rapid Action Force) for the 4th military region, and an air force base of the 11th parachutist division are based in Toulouse. There are also 2 important military camps: Caylus (Tarn-et-Garonne), and in the Larzac (Aveyron). Troops are billeted in several cities of the region.
Transportation is quite unbalanced in Midi-Pyrénées:
a motorway crosses the region from west to east (Bordeaux-Toulouse-Montpellier), with an important circular boulevard around Toulouse, and with the TGV (great speed train) between Bordeaux and Toulouse. But beside this major route, the region remains much enclosed. The old N 20, unsuited to modern traffic, but much used (it is the shorter way from Paris to Spain), is slowly transformed into a motorway (A 20). A second motorway crosses the south east of the region, and Tarbes then Lannemezan have been joined to Pau and Bayonne by it. Departments such as Gers, Ariège or Aveyron presently remain totally excluded from the main roads.
There is an important international airport in Toulouse-Blagnac.