Last Updated on 19/01/2022 by Alfred
Do you want to visit a region in the southwest of France? Do not miss the best things to do in Haute-Garonne!
This department located in the Occitanie region has many treasures to offer. Rich in a significant cultural, historical and natural heritage, Haute-Garonne is a department created during the French Revolution.
Since then, many changes have been made, especially to its area. The last change was in 2016 when the Midi-Pyrénées region merged with the Languedoc-Roussillon region to create Occitanie.
Endowed with many landscapes, many are the places to visit in Haute-Garonne!
This department is surrounded by the Toulouse plain, the slopes of Comminges, and the Pyrenees Massif.
Whether it’s the weather, the activities to practice, or the many monuments, sites, and landscapes to admire, there is plenty to see and do.
Discover our favorites and our tips to visit the must-sees in Haute-Garonne.
The 8 Best Things To Do in Haute Garonne, France
The main city of South-West France has a rich and colorful historical heritage. Despite being the fourth largest city in France, you’ll have a hard time feeling the city’s size with so many gardens and parks.
Both historic with its many monuments and mansions and modern by being the base of aviation and space in France, Toulouse makes visitors want to get to know the South-West of France and its inhabitants with a singing accent.
The heart of the Pink City is here. There are three main monuments in this area: the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the Capitol, and the Convent of the Jacobins.
There are many other points of interest to discover in this epicenter. Finally, do not hesitate to stroll through the alleys and contemplate the architecture of the buildings.
The city of Toulouse is labeled three flowers by Villes et Villages Fleuris. Thus, it has thirteen squares and 161 parks with more than one hundred and sixty thousand trees. A city for the least wooded!
Of all the public gardens of the city, here is a selection of the most interesting:
- The Pierre Baudis Japanese garden in the heart of the city with free admission;
- The most famous and well-known garden in the city is the Garden of Plants. You will also find the Natural History Museum;
- The Garden of the Grand Rond is a small park to do absolutely in Haute-Garonne in Toulouse.
Even if the filter meadow is not a garden, strictly speaking, it is still one of the busiest places in the city.
On the banks of the Garonne, Toulouse residents take advantage of the green space to relax during the day and party in the evening. The meadow of the filters is a perfect break for a picnic in the city.
This Gothic masterpiece was built in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. You can see the two naves with their seven columns bearing a grandiose vault of 28 meters high under lock and key.
2. Lake Oô
Here is a hike to do in Haute-Garonne that will refresh you. Count about 2h30 for this hike in a beautiful setting at more than 1,500 meters above sea level. In the end, you can discover Lake Espingo with a waterfall 275 meters high.
3. The castle of Laréole
A jewel of the Renaissance in a green setting set in Haute-Garonne. This is what the Château de Laréole, which opens its doors every year in spring, represents in a few words.
This building made of stones and bricks is part of the ecological operation of the Haute-Garonne departmental council.
As well, all of the exceptional sites in the department are committed to the philosophy of zero phyto.
So, the maintenance of the many monuments and buildings in the region does not negatively impact biodiversity.
4. Villages to see in Haute-Garonne
Even if we automatically think of the city of Toulouse when going to visit the Haute-Garonne, we must not forget the many exceptional villages and characters of the region.
Here are a few must-sees:
Saint Bertrand de Comminges
It is one of the most beautiful French villages. Saint Bertrand-de-Comminges is a Roman episcopal city at the foot of the Pyrenees.
It has become a high place of pilgrimage on the Way to Compostela. Its visit recalls a distant time, with its impressive St. Mary’s Cathedral, a jewel of Romanesque-Gothic art.
It is a village not forgotten, perched on a ridge in front of the Pyrenees. Prehistoric traces and Gallo-Roman remains have made their reputation.
The village is surrounded by three fortified enclosures around the count’s castle.
Its notoriety is also due to the Aurignac Street Art Festival, every year in August. A festive summer event to do in Haute-Garonne.
This medieval village is worth a visit. Its historic center allows you to see the half-timbered houses typical of the Southwest.
Then, its many bridges give beautiful views of the village. Stroll through its colorful alleys that contrast perfectly with the half-timbered houses.
It is located in the south of the Haute-Garonne. Close to the Spanish border, this isolated and sparsely populated village offers a stunning panorama of the surrounding area—an enchanting vision of the Pyrenees chain cradled in a palpable authenticity.
5. Culinary specialties
As in every French region, visiting the Haute-Garonne is no exception to the rule for its culinary specialties.
Gastronomy is an integral part of discovering an area. That is why, before visiting France and its different beautiful regions, it is always good to know its typical dishes.
Here is a non-exhaustive summary of the dishes of the Haute-Garonne.
When we think of the specialty of the South-West, we necessarily think of cassoulet. We must give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
The cassoulet is not from Toulouse but Castelnaudary, next door. Mainly made from duck and white beans, the traditional cooking is done in the oven in a terracotta dish.
This is the culinary art of the region. Indeed, the best foie gras in France is made in the South-West region.
Classically, duck foie gras is made here, but goose foie gras also has a rising share now.
The sausage of Toulouse
He is the star of the city. This particular sausage can be enjoyed in many dishes specific to the region. It can also be eaten alone, simply grilled. A must when visiting the Haute-Garonne!
It is the sweet specialty of the region. It is most often found based on apples, even if it is also found with prunes. The puff pastry gives a feeling of palpable lightness.
The famous little yellow box that we find in all our grandparents comes from the Haute-Garonne. Lajaunie cachou is a licorice-based specialty that was invented by pharmacist Léon Lajaunie.
Its notoriety goes beyond the borders of the department since it still sells to this day more than ten million boxes each year.
The violet is the emblem of the city of Toulouse. For a good reason, the violet conservatory was created in 1994 in the municipal greenhouses of the city to exhibit a collection of violet plants.
We decline different scented products such as crystallized violets, violet sweets, violet syrup, chocolates, etc. If you are going to visit the Haute-Garonne, it is difficult to escape this declined and eaten flavor in all sauces.
6. The Cité de l’Espace
If you are wondering what to do in Haute-Garonne in rainy weather, discover space! This is a fun and enriching place to visit with your family.
Here, you can be in a situation like a cosmonaut in space and explore this unknown terrain and understand the workings thanks to the conferences and various workshops organized there.
Children and lovers of space technology will appreciate a visit very close to Toulouse.
If you’re seeking relaxation and wellness during your stay in Haute-Garonne, this spa is where you must go. We go to Luchon to get back in shape or to devote ourselves to wellness activities.
In the sublime setting of the Pyrenees, visitors can also enjoy fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, paragliding, climbing, or hiking.
It is at the gates of Spain just 1h 30min from Toulouse that the country of Luchon is nestled. A break at altitude to get some fresh air and enjoy the mountains, in which you can also practice skiing in winter!
8. The Gallic village is the Archaeosite
Are you looking for an activity to do in Haute-Garonne with children? Welcome to this fantastic Gallic village. Located between Toulouse and Saint-Gaudens in the commune of Rieux-Volvestre, this village is considered unique in Europe. It serves as an ecomuseum, cultural park, and archaeological park.
This is a reconstruction of a life-size Gallic village. The experience is unreal, and visitors highly appreciate it..
How to go to Haute-Garonne?
It is easy to get to the area which is very well connected. Whether by plane with Toulouse-Blagnac airport, by train, car, or public transport, you will have no difficulty arriving in Haute-Garonne.
Take the A20 for 714 kilometers and 7 hours to get to Haute-Garonne from Paris. Through Montpellier, head on the A9 and A61 for 276 kilometers and less than 3 hours drive.
The department of Haute-Garonne is very extensive. You can arrive directly in the department’s city at the Toulouse matabiau station. Many departures from other cities are available.
For example, arriving from Montpellier, you will put around 2 hours. From Paris, you need to take about 5 hours.
If you travel by plane, know that the city of Toulouse has an international airport, Toulouse Blagnac. Look on a flight comparator like Skyscanner to find the best tickets at the best price.
Our recommendation is to rent a car when you arrive so that you can explore the Haute-Garonne at your own pace.
The departmental council offers us service throughout the department to get around on-site. The LiO Arc-En-Ciel network allows you to organize your trips with peace of mind.
It is possible to take the Pastel card and travel with several public transport networks.
The Arc en Ciel interurban network, the TER network, regional buses, and the Tisséo urban network.
Where to stay in Haute-Garonne?
To visit the Haute-Garonne, the best is to rent different accommodation depending on where you are located in the department.
The latter being very stretched, you can hardly rent a single accommodation for your entire stay. You will find a wide choice of hotels and accommodation in the city.
Consult an online hotel comparator to get an idea of the offer, whether in Toulouse, Saint Bertrand de Comminges or Bagnères de Luchon.
You also have a choice of more remote villages and places, such as Auterive or Rieux-Volvestre. In cottages and Airbnb rentals alike, attractive prices meet your expectations according to the desired level of comfort.
It is not uncommon to find unusual dwellings in the region. A barge for rent on the Garonne, Occitan trailers, yurts, or tree houses: in addition to approaching relatively affordable rates, these original accommodations promise you an experience off the beaten track.
For this type of accommodation, count a minimum of 50 € per night.
Enjoy your stay in Haute-Garonne!