South of France

Article

October 28, 2021

The South of France corresponds in the broad sense to the southern half of mainland France. In a more strict sense, it corresponds rather to its southern third. Geographical or cultural notions support these considerations.

Midi definition of France

In practice, the South takes on a different meaning depending on whether we are referring to a geographical, cultural or tourist concept.

Geographical concepts

We can consider that it corresponds more or less to the southern half of the French territory starting from the threshold of Poitou, or which is located to the south of an imaginary line connecting La Rochelle "Porte du Midi atlantique" to Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon . A more restrictive vision makes it start further south, from the southern third of the national territory at the level of the 45th parallel north. We say of Valence, which is located roughly below this latitude, that it is "the gateway to the South", that "it is in Valence that the South begins ...", which can also reflect the perception of a change in the appearance of the vegetation when you go down the Rhône valley (France). To the south-west, Brive-la-Gaillarde, which is also near the 45th parallel, is sometimes called "the laughing portal of the South".

Cultural notions

Alphonse Daudet thus defined the South of France in Numa Roumestan (1881): “All the French South flourished there [at the Malmus café], in its various shades: Midi gascon, Midi Provencal, de Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille , Midi Périgord, Auvergne, Ariégeois, Ardéchois, Pyrenees… " On the cultural level, this region with a fuzzy limit merges in part with the area of ​​influence of Occitan (interferential dialects and dialects combined) or Occitania (cultural region), whose borders are more precise, but it covers also regions of Catalan culture (Pyrénées-Orientales), Basque (west of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques), Saintongeaise (Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois, the latter designated, with neighboring Gascony, under the name of “Atlantic Midi”) or Corsica. In the field of historical and archaeological studies, the adjective meridional (which is to the south, which is from the south) is used in the denomination "southern Aquitaine". Midi means both “mid-day” (from Old French mi, “milieu”, and di, from Latin dies, “day”) and “south”, in France and in the rest of the northern hemisphere, the position of the sun at noon being to the south.

Politics

After the French Revolution and until the end of the Third Republic, the South is alternately qualified as the White Midi, that is to say imbued with Catholicism and royalism, or of the Red Midi, that is to say sensitive to far-left doctrines such as radicalism and then socialism. The Midi gave its name to the former French administrative region Midi-Pyrénées, which merged with Languedoc-Roussillon in the Occitanie region on January 1, 2016.

Toponymy

In France

The word midi appears in various toponyms in France, to designate either the south of France in general, or a geographical feature south of a specific place: Canal du Midi Former Midi-Pyrenees region Pic du Midi de Bigorre Pic du Midi d'Ossau Pic du Midi de Siguer Aiguille du Midi

Outside of France

One of the stations in Brussels is called Bruxelles-Midi because it originally served mainly the South of France.

Other names including the word Midi

Several company names include the word midi: Regional press: the daily newspapers Midi libre, La Dépêche du Midi, and the bi-weekly newspaper Midi olympique; Compagnie des chemin de fer du Midi et du Canal lateral à la Garonne, one of the former major French railway companies; Société hydroelectric du Midi (SHEM), power generation

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