The obvious route through to Spain, Midi-Pyrénées brings together three of France's main walking routes to Santiago de Compostela: the Le Puy route, the Arles route and the Pyrenean Foothills route.
At the height of the pilgrimage era, between the 12th and 14th centuries, the passage of large numbers of pilgrims led to a vast amount of building work in Midi-Pyrénées.
Shrines, churches, hospitals, bridges and sometimes even entire suburbs were built specifically for the pilgrims.
These places of prayer, lodging and care became the main staging posts along the pilgrimage route, and with the influence of religion on art these places were embellished, glorified and historiated. All the more so since the region is a melting pot of artistic and architectural influences from the four corners of Europe.
So it was that all the splendour of European Romanesque art came to accompany the pilgrims through their long journey across Midi-Pyrénées to the tomb of St James in Galicia. The Abbey Church of Sainte Foy in Conques and the Abbey Church of Saint Pierre in Moissac became the key monuments to the faith, along with the Hospital of Saint Jacques in Figeac, the Pont Valentré in Cahors, the Basilica of Saint Sernin and the Hôtel-Dieu in Toulouse, and the Collegiate Church of Saint Pierre in La Romieu.
The exceptional St James's Way heritage in Midi-Pyrénées is now recognised by UNESCO, making Midi-Pyrénées the French region with the most World Heritage Site monuments along the St James's Way pilgrimage routes.