Vibrant, well-heeled and picturesque, South Western France makes the perfect spot for a well-deserved weekend break.

The region isn’t just a pretty face – along with its rolling hills and charming scenery, there’s a whole treasure trove of historical spots and cultural gems or you to explore. Here’s our guide to spending a weekend in one of the most romantic corners of Europe.

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Things to do in Toulouse

For practicality as well as pleasure, we recommend stopping off in Toulouse. Known as La Ville Rose (or the pink town) thanks to the architecture’s pretty coral and salmon tones, Toulouse enchants with its laid-back allure.

While you’re here, head to the city’s Couvent des Jacobins, built in 1230 – the breathtaking ceiling alone is worth a visit. Stroll down the La Garonne river, taking in the view of the famous Pont Neuf bridge and enjoy the buskers’ music. Explore the green and leafy boulevard of Allée Francois Verdier, which leads you into the Jardin Royale. If you’re longing to sip a chic pre-dinner apéro on a sunny terrace and watch the world go by, Place St Pierre has several lively and popular bars worth a visit.

Get inspired by art

Toulouse’s Musées des Augustins is crammed with artistic masterpieces that just can’t be missed. Conserving a collection of sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, it features Roman sculptures, Renaissance Old Masters and even a gargoyle or two.

Rocamadour

The enchanting city of Rocamadour, nestled in the Causses du Quercy National Park ©super_​france

Meet the local wildlife

The Causses du Quercy Regional National Park should be your next stop, located just 1.5 hours’ drive from Toulouse. It’s richly diverse in flora and fauna, with plenty of local bats, birds of prey, orchids and butterflies to spot. Visit at night to try stargazing in the dark triangle’ in the centre of the park, away from the city lights. Adventures are firmly encouraged, with caving, climbing and canoeing available for a small fee. Don’t forget to explore the park’s caverns and caves, some of which feature prehistoric cave paintings.

Fall under Rocamadour’s spell

Nestled in Causses du Quercy, Rocamadour is a picturesque clifftop village overlooking the Alzou canyon, with views of the nearby Foret des Singes. Explore the eclectic mix of medieval houses, ancient chapels, lively boutiques and restaurants and stop for a bite. Head up all 233 steps of the Great Staircase to visit the seven churches and chapels of the sanctuaries – the Black Virgin shrine is a particularly popular highlight.

Château Mouton Rotschild

Château Mouton Rotschild

Capture the castle

If you continue onwards from the park to Bordeaux, stop at Chateau Mouton Rothschild en route. Located in the village of Pauillac, 30 miles from Bordeaux, it’s the final word in old-world glamour.

It has a large and well-respected vineyard, as well as a grand house and a Museum of Wine in Art, and is open to tour by appointment. The museum features rare treasures and antiques such as tapestries, goblets, ivories and glassware from Persia, Germany, Japan and beyond. The tour lasts for roughly two hours, covering the chateau’s history and the story of its terroir. It costs €45 per person, including wine tasting.

Check out more adventures in France:

Explore the Ancient Cities and Azure Seas of the French Mediterranean

Feast Your Taste Buds on Paris’ Right Bank

Three Essential Apps for Hiking the French Alps

Cover photo of Causses du Quercy National Park by ©pan_​antoine

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