Going to France soon and want to explore the best of the French culture? Check out the best places to visit in South West France.
South West France is beautiful. You will get the best of the French culture with a hint of Spanish and Occitan influences! This underrated region has so much to offer!
1 – Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a fortified city located in the department of Aude in South West France. It’s about 1h away from Toulouse and can be reached by train or car.
The Citadel, known as the Cite de Carcassonne, is the main attraction. This medieval fortress was added to the UNESCO list in 1997 and is truly remarkable. It’s such a magnificent place. The town itself is very charming as well and the perfect place to get a cassoulet.
2 – Toulouse
Toulouse is the main city in South West France. Nicknamed the pink city, it’s a very pretty and underrated place. All buildings are made of red bricks and pink tiles on the roof. It’s very lively which makes it a great place to go out and have fun in the evening. The city centre is pretty small which is very convenient. It’s very easy to visit Toulouse walking or with a bicycle.
It’s also home to some very nice museums such as the Toulouse Museum or Les Abattoirs.
3 – Saint Cyr La Popie
This beautiful medieval village is one of the French favourites and has been elected one of the most beautiful villages in France. Located at the top of a very steep cliff, Saint-Cyr Lapopie is a very unique place. You will find 13 listed monuments. It’s a paradise for history lovers. A very picturesque village that you will fall for.
4 – Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the second biggest city in South West France. Famous for being the main wine region in France, it’s also one of the prettiest cities you will get to see. Its style is completely different from Toulouse’s. You will be in a completely different universe. In summer, you will get to see the Water Mirror on the main square, La Place de la Bourse.
Bordeaux is also a great place to go shopping. The Rue Sainte-Catherine is a 1.2km pedestrian street going through the historical centre of Bordeaux. It’s literally a heaven for shopping lovers.
5 – Biarritz
Biarritz is a very elegant seaside town located in the French Basque Country. It’s one of the European royalty’s favourite destination. Napoleon, Princess Eugenie… many kings and emperor made Biarritz the town it is today.
The long and wide sandy beaches are gorgeous, which makes it a very good surfing destination as well.
We recommend going to the lighthouse. It offers a beautiful view of the beach and the cliffs.
6 – Albi
Albi, located about 1h away from Toulouse, is one of France’s best-kept secrets. Particularly known for being listed by the UNESCO, the most important architectural glory is the Cathedral Sainte Catherine. Other sights to check out are the Old Bridge, the church quarter and the Saint-Salvi Quarter.
The rest of the city is also very pretty. A very South West of France style with red bricks.
The perfect destination for a day trip from Toulouse!
7 – Rocamadour
Rocamadour is located in the Lot and is also one of the prettiest villages in France. This clifftop village is of absolute beauty. So different from anything else you might have seen in the past. The houses were built on the cliffs at the medieval times. It’s also a very famous religious site as the gothic basilica St Sauveur is home to the relics of Saint Amadour.
Rocamadour is also home to some of the best goat cheese you can find in France.
8 – Gouffre de Padirac
The Padirac Cave is located only 30 mins away from Rocamadour. They can both be combined in one day out if you wish. This chasm is particularly unique. The entrance looks like a set from Jurassic Park. You will get down the stairs (75m) and then go on a little bark in the cave galleries. The guide will explain everything and will then take you to more galleries by foot.
This is a very unconventional experience.
9 – Bayonne
Bayonne is another town in the French Basque Country. Very different to Biarritz, it’s characterized by its medieval narrow streets. It’s also home to the feria of Bayonne. Every year in July, the festival takes up the whole city for 5 days. Just imagine a giant party with music everywhere and people dancing everywhere. Every street, every bar, every square… that’s what the feria of Bayonne is.
10 – Lourdes
Lourdes is a little town lost in the Pyrenees mountains with a beautiful fortified castle. This small market-town is best known for religious reasons. Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen Marian apparitions in 1858. Since then, she was canonised and Lourdes became a site of huge interests for people seeking miracles. It’s now the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land.
11 – Saint Jean de Luz
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a fishing town at the mouth of the Nivelle river in the French Basque Country. The cultural heritage in the town is very interesting but the best thing about it is nature. You can go on many beautiful walks and get views on some of the most beautiful places in South West France.
12 – Vieux Boucau
Vieux Boucau is a very charming village in the Landes. Ideally located between ocean, lake and forest, it’s the ideal place to relax!
13 – Hossegor
Hossegor is located in the French Basque Country. It’s a paradise for surfers! It’s actually considered one of the best places to surf in the world! While you are there, you should check out the beach La Graviere and the lake, Lac d’Hossegor.
It’s also a very good destination if you want to go partying. Summer evenings are very lively.
14 – Figeac
Figeac is a medieval town located a couple of hours away from Toulouse. It’s also the birthplace of Champollion, who decrypted the hieroglyph and now home to the Champollion museum.
If you like architecture, you will love Figeac. You can see many very well preserved medieval buildings. Most of them are still in use and are up to 1000 years old.
15 – Moissac
Moissac is a beautiful village, mainly known for its Abbey. This Benedicte and Cluniac monastery is pure beauty. Moissac is also one of the main stops on the route of Santiago de Compostela.
So, are you ready to discover the best places in South West France? Let’s go!