Discovering the Occitanie region by train 🚆

We went on a 4-day train trip through the South of France to the picturesque area of Occitanie. We traveled freely, hopping onto trains each day with the One Country Interrail pass that we purchased online.

Ready to discover a route of fairy castles, gothic churches, and townsfolk?

Here is our journey and a short travel guide so that you can pick up any useful information and build your own adventure for your next trip!

What is an Interrail and how does it work

The Interrail (or Eurail for extra UE citizens) is a special pass to travel by train all over Europe (in this case known as a global pass), or just in a particular European country (the one country pass).

If your plan is to hop around discovering different towns, it is a perfect choice, as it is less expensive than buying each individual train ticket. For example, without it, this whole travel would have cost us 400€ each instead of 175€. Also, if you are under 26 or over 60 you have amazing discounts! 

Here you can check both options:

* Keep in mind that if you are a European citizen you can buy from Interrail, but if you aren’t, you have to purchase your pass from Eurail. They are basically the same, with some slight differences in prices and available options.

We got ours online and for our purpose, we chose the four days France pass within a month so that we could explore this ancient historical region. And it was definitely worth it (although the train system in France was not as good as we expected!).

When purchasing it, you can decide to get the paper one or the digital one. For the first one, you will have to wait for the shipment, the second one goes fast and straightforward from the app in a few minutes. For example, I bought my father’s boyfriend one while we were going to the train station from my smartphone. Quite an easy process, just be careful when you decide on which phone you want to use the pass, because it can be linked only to one phone from the app.

You can plan your trip and check the train schedules by using the app. Most of the journeys will be free of charge. But be aware of those few trains that require a booking and therefore an extra payment. In that case, you will have to pay the additional cost by booking from the Interrail website. But if you opt for the other kind of train, there will be no further expenses, and you can easily add it to your journey just a few seconds before the departure.

The historical region of Occitanie and best time to go

Let me finally introduce you to our destination. Occitanie is a region that formerly doesn’t exist, as it is just a historical area that is located in the south of France. There are many remains of the past, such as ancient Roman civilization; splendid gothic architecture; floating conflicts of old Christianity; and the impressive châteaux of the Cathars (a group of noble heretics that had their own views about the Christian religion).

It used to be divided into four regions: Languedoc, County of Foix, Roussillon, and Guyenne & Gascony. Nowadays, it is “just” part of the South of France.

There are so many things to see in this area, that you can probably come back here organizing different routes endless times (I believe that applies to almost everywhere in the world). And although France is not one of my main choices when it comes to traveling, some tiny towns in Occitanie are really worth visiting!

Our route was decided a bit randomly (basically on our guts) but there were some incredible pleasant surprises in it. I would recommend it to anyone going there to plan the trip in May or September. We were there during mid-June, and it was way too hot!

Here is our first attempt at exploring the Occitanie region by train in four days 👉🏼

DAY 1: Carcassone – Narbonne – Montpelier

We started our journey at 9 AM from the Matabiau train station of Toulouse (be careful, the city has two different train stations! In fact, the second day following Google Maps I got us on the wrong one, and we almost lost our train 🤓).


In just 1 hour we were in Carcassone. Quite a fascinating place. The ancient Cité de Carcassonne has a very well-maintained castle, making it a special destination. Very characteristic spot – although a bit touristy from my personal point of view – but still, it has its own magic.

After a short walk from the train station, you will find the Pont Vieux of Carcassonne and reach the old city to get lost in its tiny streets; smell some lavender; discover their handmade soaps; visit the Basilique Saint Nazaire

An exquisite restaurant to have lunch in Carcassone is Le-Bis-Troquet, their chef will surprise you with some unique and healthy culinary creations.

Narbonne & Montpellier

In Narbonne, there’s a very beautiful church – Cathedral of Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur – that was consistently smelling of fresh flowers 💐 (the others said that I was the only one feeling it, which makes it even a more spiritual place to me).

P.S: I am not Catholic, but I really love to be in sacred spaces, I deeply respect religions and enjoy their related traditions and rituals.

After wandering in the town and seeing the cathedral, this is pretty much what there is to see in Narbonne, but is worth the pit-stop.

Montpelier was a pleasant surprise, I had already been there, but I didn’t keep any special memory about it. This time I did. Clean, full of things to do, plenty of green spots, and with such a nice vibe.

It holds the first medical university in the world 🌍, an amazing botanical garden 🪴, the beautiful carousel de la Comedie 🦄, cool restaurants and bars 🍹, and many relaxing walking paths 🚶‍♂️. It seems like an impressive town for a short trip or even to study at! 📚 (at least I got this impression).

We had a fast dinner near the train station in a remarkable pizza place I RAGAZZI, if you happen to be around go visit them, they make perfect pizzas!

DAY 2: Lourdes


We were thrilled about seeing the famous Lourdes, but it was really disappointing. 

I know, I know, the pictures look amazing!

But this is only the central part with the cathedral ⛪️ that feels more like a theme park rather than a spiritual spot. Maybe it has become so touristic that it has lost its essence. So the only beautiful part is the area designated for the Sanctuary (although a bit commercialized, they were selling candles to be lit from 10€ to 500€!).

The city isn’t very nice as there isn’t much to see there, and during the day almost everything is close. In fact, we even struggled to find a spot to have lunch at. We were lucky enough to find this Italian restaurant, but the kitchen was closed. Although, the owner gave us a pizza because he understood our situation and was really empathizing with our hunger (we are both Taurus ♉). He was so kind, he didn’t even want us to pay for it! This is the place: L‘Angelus

After eating, we had a pit stop to refresh while waiting for our train in a Sri Lankan family hotel & restaurant – Saint Francois Xavier – while drinking a mango lassi 🥭. They were super kind as well. An interesting fact about Lourdes I have noticed is that it is full of Indian, Tibetan, and Sri Lankan restaurants (although most are closed during the daytime, like everything else), anybody knows why?

In conclusion, Lourdes is one of those places you want to go to at least once in a lifetime. But don’t higher your expectations, and keep in mind that in a few hours you will be able to see everything!

Day 3: Albi – Montauban – Toulouse 

This was indeed my favorite day. Even if it was the warmest one, Albi is one of the sweetest places I have ever seen. This small town is so aesthetic, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Like many other towns in the area, a river crosses the city, but unlike others, the green area has been left intact. So you have access to a beautiful green area to walk and explore while visiting this incredibly picturesque place. 

We departed very early in the morning, around 6, and when there we went to have breakfast at an amazing little bar – Natura Cafe – owned by a Brazilian guy that moved to Albi many years ago. It is definitely a little gem with healthy products and great service, go visit him for an incredible breakfast or snack! 

We went to the Toulouse Lautrec museum (I love to discover art 🖼 it is like food for my soul). Found so many new artists that I didn’t know (I am not an expert, I just like to wander around and feel the beauty that surrounds every piece of art). One of my favorite pieces of the museum was an oil on canvas: “Nu” by Fernand Cormon (1845-1924). This museum also has a glorious garden 🤩!

Albi did not only have a charming environment and a very nice museum, but also one of the most astonishing churches that I have ever seen in my life (check the pictures below): Sainte-Cecile Cathedral of Albi.

We had lunch in Albi in this tasty French restaurant – Au Hibou – (we had the best dessert ever, and I don’t usually like desserts). Around 15 we were heading towards Matabieu. We could have skipped it, nothing worth seeing, and especially under 40 degrees. It was insanely hot 🥵 and difficult to walk under that sun. So after a while, we decided to go back to Toulouse, to have a delightful picnic on our bed and enjoy our bathtub for a night movie 🎥 in the freshwater.

We explored a bit in Toulouse, but it was really too hot to wander around. So we basically went home to enjoy our incredible Airbnb, and then went out our last night in this cool Bohemian bar – Le Salmanazar – to say goodbye to Martin’s father that was heading back to Argentina.

The day after we took the train to go to our next Airbnb in Marseille (very nice too, we leave you the link) and spend a few days there. The train was super late, due to the hot wave apparently and without AC, an unpleasant trip, but one needs to adapt 🙏🏼 the important thing is that we arrived safely even if tired. It is part of the adventure!

Day 4: Marseille – Arles – Avignon

This was our last day of use of our Interrail (you can actually decide when you want to use each day of the pass during an entire month, so they don’t have to be consecutive). We moved from the Occitanie region to Provence.

We went to Arles, which was made famous mainly by Van Gogh. And in fact, the café (although we didn’t seat too touristy and highly-priced), and the Foundation of Van Gogh were must stops! Unfortunately, many of Van Gogh’s paintings weren’t on show, but I discovered this contemporary artist from New York: Nicole Eisenman. I really enjoyed her work although not so much her political views, the drawings, and the colors were incredibly beautiful. 

Check these out: 

Heading to Avignon. Which wasn’t so beautiful, or at least I might have had some high expectations about it. We went on, wandering in art museums to see a Matisse expo at the Musée Angladon and a nice contemporary museum, the Collection Lambert Avignon. Back home, I was thrilled by so much art that I draw some pen tattoos on Martin’s skin 😈 to let my inner artist go out somehow 😜

Well, this was pretty much all of our Interrail through the South of France.

We didn’t like Marseille at all if I must be honest, it was quite dirty, and had a very weird vibe… it is just not our kind of place I guess 😅. BUT if you happen to be in Marseille, there is an amazing little organic restaurant just nearby the train station: Grain de Sable.

This is a very nice tour that you can do without a car in just 4 days for around €400/per person (including accommodation, trains, museums, and food). The railroad will easily take you to the most important cities (although trains in France are not as good as I was expecting) but as I said avoid the hottest months!