Outdoor Activities in Midi-Pyrénées South
Information on hiking, biking, canoeing and horse riding in the hills and valleys of south west France. With contact details of regional sport and activity associations...
The climate in the southern Midi-Pyrénées region provides a variety of adventure sports with conditions depending on the season.
In December the snow arrives to the highest peaks and the ski season begins, with down-hill, snowboarding, cross-country and many other snow based activities available.
As the temperatures rise in the springtime the snow melts and the rivers swell providing perfect conditions for canoeing, rafting and kayaking.
As the summer approaches the walking season begins for hikers and ramblers. The Midi-Pyrénées region offers varied walks from high altitude mountain hikes to river and town walks. The season runs through until the late autumn when the snow arrives.
The region is home to a vast area of woodland open to hunters. The hunting season begins in or around June and runs through to September but varies regionally and depends on the animal being hunted.
- For comprehensive information on hiking, climbing, biking and riding, skiing and watersports see ePyrenees.com
The Dordogne and Célé rivers in the north of the Midi-Pyrénées region provide meandering courses for canoeing and kayaking. The faster moving rafting waterways in the more mountainous south provide for adventure kayaking.
Navigable rivers are classified into six grades, Classes I to VI. Class I being for easily navigable rivers, Class V for extremely difficult, and Class VI for rivers that are only navigable depending on the water level and presenting many risks.
- For more information from website Aqua'rider: Click here (in French)
There are many organisations providing training, transport and equipment for trips, one day or several. The sport is monitored by the Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak. It has information on appropriate rivers and expert guides, where necessary.
- The regional tourist office provides information and routes: Click here
- The Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak: Click here
The contact details for each departmental committee:
- Ariège (09)
At: Stade d'Eau vive du Rebech Complexe sportif, 09000 Foix
Tel: 05 61 65 20 65
- Haute-Garonne (31)
At: 28 Rue Ste. Catherine, 31600 Estantens
Tel: 05 62 23 38 45
- Gers (32)
At: Impasse de la Tour, 32300 Mirande
Tel: 05 62 66 69 73
- Hautes-Pyrénées (65)
At: 88, rue du Vigenmale, 65000 Tarbes
Tel: 05 62 36 42 39
- Tarn (81)
At: 21 Chemin le Leuze, 81000 Albi
Tel: 05 63 54 38 40
The Midi-Pyrénées has numerous marked routes through the historical towns and cities as well as through the mountains. The famous GR10 route crosses from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean on the French side of the border (the GR 11 is the path on the Spanish side).
Be aware of seasonal restrictions to the paths and routes; for example, during the winter snow and ice can make some routes impassable.
The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP) is the overseeing body for all marked and maintained walking routes in France. It provides information and guide-books (most in French) for walkers.
The Comité Régional de la Randonnée Pédestre en Midi-Pyrénées manages the walking and hiking routes and groups in the region. The committee is responsible for managing the 26,000 Km of official routes, and maintains the paths and make sure that the marks, guides and maps are up to date. There are 230 walking and hiking clubs affiliated to the committee.
Top 25 hiking maps issued by the Institut Géographique National (IGN) are available from newsagents (presse) and bookshops.
All nationally recognised trails are categorised as follows:
- GR (Grand Randonnée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country (although a hiker can walk any small section they choose)
- GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days
- PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours
The French route marking system shows paths by means of signs and blazes.
- Comité Régional de la Randonnée Pédestre des Midi-Pyrénées
At: Maison des Sports, Rue Buissonnière, BP 81908, 31319 Labège cedex
Tel: 05 62 24 18 77
Fax: 05 62 24 18 79
The Pyrénées offer a range of climbing opportunities for those with basic skill right up to expert, challenging faces. There are also the Tarn and Aveyron gorges. The ski resorts offer climbing and mountaineering in the summer months for those wishing to reach the highest peaks.
Professional guides are available and recommended in most areas. They should hold a diploma from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and a qualification from the Mountaineering and Rock-climbing Federation, the Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade (FFME).
Information (in French) is available on the grade, training options and availability of guides from the FFME
- Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade
At: 8-10 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris
Tel: 01 40 18 75 50
Fax: 01 40 18 75 59
- To find climbing and mountaineering clubs in the Midi-Pyrénées region: Click here (then select the department from the map)
- Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade (FFME) Midi-Pyrénées (Climbing Federation)
At: Maison des Sports, Rue Buissonière, BP 81908, 31319 Labege
Tel: 05 62 24 18 40
- The regional tourism authority of the Midi-Pyréenées tourist office has a list of local climbing and outdoor activity centres here: Click here (in French)
The Pyrénées is recognised for its cycling, and is often a decisive stage of the famous cycling races Spanish Vuelta and the Tour de France. Easier cycling circuits are available in the river valleys of the Ariège. Mountain biking known as VTT (Vélo Tout Terrain) is very popular in the region and there are trails for all levels.
Further information available from: