Southern France, also known as the South of France or colloquially in French as le Midi, is a defined geographical area consisting of the regions of France that border the Atlantic Ocean south of the Marais Poitevin,Spain, the Mediterranean Sea, and Italy. It includes: Nouvelle-Aquitaine in the west, Occitanie in the centre, the southern parts of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the northeast, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the southeast, as well as the island of Corsica in the southeast.
The term Midi derives from mi (middle) and di (day) in Old French, comparable to the term Mezzogiorno to indicate Southern Italy or Miaz?zi which is a synonym for South in Romanian. The time of midday was synonymous with the direction of south because in France, as in all of the Northern Hemisphere north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is in the south at noon. The synonymy existed in Middle French as well, where meridien can refer to both midday and south. The Midi is considered to start at Valence, hence the saying "à Valence le Midi commence".
The area corresponds in large part to Occitania in Southern Europe, the territory in which Occitan (French: langue d'oc) - as distinct from the langues d'oïl of Northern France - was historically the dominant language. Though part of Occitania, the regions of Auvergne and Limousin are not normally considered part of the South of France. The biggest cities of Southern France are Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice, and Montpellier. The Pyrenees and French Alps are also located in the area, respectively in its southwestern and eastern parts.
Notable touristic landmarks include the Roman-era Pont du Gard and Arena of Nîmes, the Verdon Gorge in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Canal du Midi, linking Toulouse and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the natural regions of Larzac, Luberon and Médoc. The French Riviera is located in Southern France's southeastern quadrant. Several towns in Southern France are renowned for their architecture and surroundings, such as Roussillon, Ménerbes, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Gordes, Rocamadour, Rennes-le-Chateau, Les Baux-de-Provence, Lourmarin, Gassin, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Seillans, Crillon-le-Brave, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.