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: southern 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. Part of the Southern Europe.
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 (Occitanie) in southern Europe, the historical and cultural region in which Occitan (French: langue d'oc) - as distinct from the langues d'oïl of northern France - was the predominant language. Though part of Occitania, the regions of Auvergne and Limousin are not normally considered part of the South of France. The largest 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. The island of Corsica, situated to the south of continental France and right above the island of Sardinia (Italy) may also be included.
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 Camargue. 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-Château, Les Baux-de-Provence, Lourmarin, Gassin, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Seillans, Crillon-le-Brave and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Nice is often considered to be Southern France's best known city abroad, although it is not the largest.
Coastal road near Sainte-Maxime
Lavender fields are a well known feature of the South of France, mainly located in Provence
The following films are set in Southern France: