The department of Haute-Garonne takes its name from the upper Garonne River which flows from the high Pyrenees through Toulouse, towards its final rendezvous with the Atlantic at Bordeaux. Journeying across the Garonne basin will reveal a rich tapestry of orchards and vineyards producing the violet scented Cotes du Frontonnais wine loved by the inhabitants of Toulouse.
There are market gardens, and vast fields of wheat and sunflowers crossed by the Canal du Midi. Potatoes are grown here and cattle raised, making Haute Garonne the ideal place to sample the cuisine of France’s South West.
Where better to begin than in Toulouse, the capital of Haute-Garonne, which has its own specialities of cassoulet and saucisse de Toulouse – Toulouse sausage. Known as La Ville Rose due to the rosy hue of many buildings built with the local red bricks, Toulouse is a treasure house of architectural splendours such as the fortified churches of Les Jacobins and St-Sernin. Once famous for its troubadour culture, Toulouse remains a vibrant city with a Mediterranean atmosphere. It has a lively café culture, food, clothes and flea markets, museums and golf at Seilh and Teoula. An aviation centre from the beginning - Concorde was developed here – the outskirts of Toulouse now house a high-tech theme park devoted to space travel, Cite de l’Espace.
Some of the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, such as Mont Peridguere rising to 10,561 ft, are to be found in the south of Haute-Garonne bordering Spain, The fabulous mountain scenery of this sparsely populated area is a magnet for tourists. Bagneres-de-Luchon can offer the visitor skiing and thermal baths and is a great mountain biking destination often used by the Tour de France.