Toulouse: a pink town in southwestern France

Toulouse

Toulouse is called the “Pink City”. It gets this name because of the hue of the stone from which it is built. But the pink dreams of its citizens are also kept here. Toulouse is the most non-touristy of the big cities of France. It is just the way things are. But there is definitely something to see here. Take for example the measured French life!

Sunset in Toulouse

Toulouse: A guide to the city by the locals

You are not yet in Toulouse? You’d better hurry up and plan a trip for your next vacation. This interview should at least double your interest in Toulouse. Our questions were answered by Elena Uzdina Bourdariez, licensed guide of the Office de tourisme of Toulouse.

Toulouse

10 ideas for things to do in Toulouse

Toulouse is a well-preserved renaissance architecture, interesting museums, temples and beautiful parks, and a modern center of space research and aviation! Here is such an interesting combination, which makes the French town in the south-west impossible to leave without attention. What to do in amazing Toulouse? We have collected 10 ideas for your vacations!

Toulouse is the Pink City

What to see in Toulouse in 1 day?

If you have one day to see Toulouse, we’ll tell you how to do it!

TER regional train.

How to get from Marseille to Toulouse?

Jean Jaurès Alley in Toulouse

Toulouse airport: how to get to the city center?

Getting to the pink Toulouse can be done in different ways, quite conveniently by train, but the fastest way is by plane. If you’re one of the 7 million lucky ones who find yourself at Blagnac Airport for tourism purposes, our tips on how to get to the city will definitely come in handy.

Toulouse stadium

Stadium in Toulouse: The Stade de Toulouse

One of the ten cities that will host matches as part of the 2016 European Football Championship finals in France is

Cafe under umbrellas in Toulouse

Where to eat in Toulouse: the best restaurants and cheap cafes

In France, good food is given great importance. Toulouse is considered a university town, being at the same time a regional center. For this reason, the price range in restaurants and cafes is very wide, but the quality remains consistently high. National cuisine is well represented in the city, dishes from North African countries are gaining in popularity, and you can often see American fast food establishments. Most restaurants offer formule du jour (set menus), which involves spending a relatively large amount on dinner.

The streets of Toulouse

Where to stay in Toulouse: The districts

Most of the attractions of Toulouse are located in the city center, you can walk around almost all the interesting places. For this reason, if you want to relax after a long walk, choose a hotel close to the main attractions. It is also a great place for lovers of shopping and flea markets.

Place Saint-Etienne in Toulouse

Should I go to Toulouse?

Toulouse can be called one of the most vibrant and colorful cities in France, not without reason it is called the “Pink City” – because the buildings of Toulouse are made of terracotta-colored stone.

Metro in Toulouse

Toulouse: how to use public transport?

Toulouse once had some of the highest fares for public transportation. This may have allowed the city to improve the quality of its services a great deal. Toulouse’s public transport network is collectively called Tisséo and consists of two subway lines, two streetcar lines, an extensive network of bus routes, and the RER trains that pass through the city.

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Toulouse – the mysterious “Pink City” in the south of France

Toulouse (France) is a stylish, colorful and mysterious city of contrasts. It harmoniously coexists with the old winding streets, on which walked the Roman legionaries, and the largest in Europe Space Research Center. Walking around Toulouse it is impossible to foresee who will meet at the next corner – a troubadour or a superhero astronaut.

Highlights

Toulouse is a large port in the south of France, which spreads out on the banks of the river Garonne. It is in Toulouse that the Languedoc Canal and the Garonne Canal meet, thus connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

The city is the fourth most populated city in the country with almost 475,000 people living on 118 km². The Jewish community of Toulouse is the 4th largest in France with about 30,000 people. The policy of the dictator Franco during the 1930s led to a strong migration of Spaniards to Toulouse and there are now about 25,000 of them. Almost 12% of Toulouse’s total population comes from Arab countries.

Toulouse is a southern city with an incredibly comfortable climate. Winters are mild and humid, with temperatures usually ranging from +8 … +11˚С. In summer, even at the hottest time, the air rarely gets warmer than +26˚С. But in the late fall it often rains cold.

For information! The violet is considered the symbol of Toulouse, and every year in February the city holds the Festival of violets. This holiday lasts only 2 days, but its “plume” for a long time you can see in all the local stores, cafes and restaurants. Every year travelers take tons of “violet” souvenirs out of Toulouse: soaps, lotions, marmalade, candied flowers.

Historical Facts

Toulouse was built on the site where there was a Roman settlement in ancient times. And now Toulouse alleys and boulevards in the historic part of the city repeat the outlines of the ancient streets, and many modern houses were specially built of red brick and held in a pseudo-Romanesque style. It is because of such mass developments Toulouse got the name of the romantic “Pink City”.

A side note. Under the rays of sunrise and sunset the houses made of red bricks look really fantastic, and at this time the most luxurious photos of the historical center are obtained.

Thanks to the production and sale of vaida dye extract, the city of Toulouse was the richest and most prosperous in all of France during the Middle Ages. As a memory of this period, the city inherited the original buildings of fine architecture: mansions, hotels, manor houses. Over time, the Portuguese began to supply indigo to Europe, and the monopoly of Toulouse in the dyeing industry ended.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Toulouse became the center of the French aircraft industry. Now more than 35,000 locals are employed in the space industry, and Airbus is recognized as the largest employer in the region.

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Toulouse sights

Toulouse is a multifaceted and diverse city with many attractions. Travelers come here to see well-preserved Renaissance architecture, to visit ancient Catholic churches and interesting museums, and to stroll through picturesque parks. This is a selection of the best things to see in Toulouse.

Interesting fact! Fans of Antoine de Saint-Exupery come to Toulouse as a Mecca. It was from this city that the brave aviator set off on his first flights over Africa and the Atlantic.

The Capitol and the square on which it stands are usually the first places tourists are introduced to in Toulouse.

Place du Capitole was formed during the early Middle Ages, and in the 1990s it was reconstructed and turned into a vast pedestrian area. The square has an original tiled surface: in its very center there is a huge Toulouse cross with zodiacal symbols.

And by the way, if you’re eager to learn more about it, visit the Place du Capitole. The Place du Capitole has an electric parking lot. This transport is ideal for a quick, comfortable and inexpensive way to get around all the most interesting sights.

At Place du Capitole is a majestic building, the facade of which is decorated with 8 columns of pink marble. This is the Capitole, the town hall. It was built in 1190, and its modern appearance was acquired in 1750.

Now located in the town hall city hall and the opera house, part of the rooms are open to tourists. The interior design contains many elements of interior design of XVI-XIX centuries, in particular the old mural paintings.

  • Entrance to the Capitol is free.
  • The visit is possible any day of the week from 10:00 to 18:45.
  • The address of the Capitole is: Place du Capitole 31000 Toulouse, France.

Visit the Capitole in Toulouse, France. Behind the Capitole is a tourist center where you can get a free map of the city and information about all the sights.

Another popular local landmark is the ancient Basilica of Saint Sernin, located on Place Saint Sernin. This beautiful building, a UNESCO heritage site, appears in almost all the brochures and photos of Toulouse and France.

The huge basilica of Saint Sernin is only one of the surviving structures of the abbey of the same name, which appeared on the Way of Saint James in the XI-XIII centuries. Its red bricks, typical of Toulouse, have an original Romanesque façade, carved stone portals with well-preserved statues, beautiful 12th century frescoes, 11th century marble reliefs, an ancient organ and carillon with 18 bells and a crypt with especially precious religious relics – the thorn of Jesus’ crown of thorns and the relics of 128 Christian saints.

  • The Saint-Sernin Basilica can be visited from 8:30 to 18:00 on weekdays, and from 8:30 to 19:00 on Sunday.
  • Entrance is free.
  • The address is: Pl. Saint-Sernin, 31000 Toulouse, France.

For your information. On Sundays next to the basilica of Saint-Sernin there is a flea market where you can buy original vintage Toulouse memorabilia.

There are a number of beautiful parks in Toulouse, but the Japanese Garden, also known as the Japonte Pierre Bodie Garden, is the only one of note. It is located in the northern part of the city, in the Compagnes Caffarelli area, between the Canal du Midi and Compagnes Caffarelli metro stops.

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This green oasis covers an area of 7000 m². It has a bamboo grove, a rock garden, exotic plants, birds chirping in perpetuity, and water reservoirs with huge carps that love bread.

  • Japanese garden is open daily from 8:00 to 21:00.
  • Entrance is free.
  • Address: Jardin Compans Caffarelli, Boulevard Lascrosses, 31000 Toulouse, France.

In the historical center, on the way from the Capitol to the Garonne river, there is a complex of buildings of the abbey which in the Middle Ages belonged to the Dominican order of Jacobins.

These structures are now a sample of the 13th-14th century Gothic-Languedoc style.

The bell tower of the monastery church attracts attention – externally it resembles the tower of the basilica of Saint-Sernin, in height it reaches 45 meters.

Inside the temple there is a majestic colonnade of gray marble topped with capitals with a floral pattern. The complex construction of the vault rests on a massive column 28 meters high – it is known as the “Jacobin palm”. The walls are covered with rich paintings with images of Occitan crosses.

Inside the church is also a unique religious landmark – a mausoleum of multicolored marble with gilded decoration, with many statues. In the mausoleum (17th century) there is a tomb with the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas.

In the eastern part of the abbey is the largest refectory of the Middle Ages – a building 17 meters high, which now regularly organizes exhibitions.

  • You can visit the site any day except Monday from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Entrance to the church is free, but for a tour of the cloister you have to pay 5 €.
  • Address: Parvis des Jacobins, 3100 Toulouse, France.
  • Web site: toulouse.fr

Natural History Museum of Toulouse, open since 1976, is also known as the Museum of Natural History.

Now the museum has 19 halls with a total area of 6000 m², in which more than 2.5 million exhibits are placed.

The permanent exhibitions are 5 unique collections, which tell about the solar system, the prehistory of our planet and the evolution of life on it, the basic functions of all living things, the impact of mankind on the ecology of the Earth. A luxurious botanical garden adjoins the museum.

  • The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00, the break is from 12:30 to 14:00. Day off – Monday.
  • Admission is paid. The cost of the ticket depends on the number of exhibitions visited. The current prices can be found on the official website of the museum.
  • Website www.museum.toulouse.fr
  • Address of the attraction: 35 All. JulesGuesde, 31000 Toulouse, France.

Interesting fact. The Natural History Museum of Toulouse is the first museum in the world to have a prehistoric department.

Pont Neuf crossing the Garonne connects two squares of the beautiful French city: Esquirol and Diyon. Despite the name, it is the oldest bridge of Toulouse, as it was built in 1541-1632.

The new bridge reaches a length of 220 meters, has 6 piers and 7 arches, and has a very unusual design. To allow the bridge to successfully withstand the frequent and violent floods of the Garonne, in each of its supports special holes were made to drain the water. For the same purpose ridges acting as breakwaters were placed in front of each pylon.

Interesting! If you look closely, you can find a small bright-red sculpture of a man-eared creature in one of the round holes.

  • You can reach the site on foot from Saint-Cyprien-Republique or Esquirol metro stations, or by car from the east bank to the west bank.
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One of the most interesting sights in Toulouse and France is the Space City, built near the CST Space Center. It is a cross between a pre-flight training center and a space technology museum.

This theme park is equipped with several exhibition pavilions with various installations and simulations. There is also a cinema, two planetariums, and amusement rides.

Visitors of Space City can go inside a space rocket or a station, sit in the chair of astronauts, feel the force of gravity, eat food of astronauts straight from tubes, examine lunar rocks through a microscope, see a 3D film about the famous Hubble telescope. The youngest guests will be offered a playground with interesting attractions and fascinating installations on the theme of space.

Interesting fact! Each year the Space City is visited by more than 4 million visitors.

  • Space City works on a fairly complicated schedule, so it is best to look at the current schedule on the official website.
  • Admission for children under 5 years old is free. Ticket prices for other visitors are kept in the range from 16 to 38 € – it all depends on the age and season.
  • The attraction is located in the eastern suburbs of Toulouse, the exact address is Avenue Jean Gonord, 3150 Toulouse, France. You can get there from the city center by subway (Jolimont station) or by bus 37.
  • The official website is: www.cite-espace.com.

Interesting fact! In 1874, employees of the Toulouse Observatory discovered a new asteroid, which was named after the city of Toulouse.

The location of all the described attractions of Toulouse is marked on the map.

Where to stay

The area of Toulouse is divided into 6 districts. The historical center, the northern area and the Marengo-Jolimon area are considered the most attractive and safe for tourists.

  • The historical center of the city concentrates most of the architectural sights and museums as well as many popular clubs and bars, bohemian restaurants and cafes. But there’s absolutely no green space or parks where you can stroll or relax with your kids.
  • The northern neighborhood is much quieter than its bustling, noisy neighbor. This is where seasoned travelers like to settle. This part of town is home to the Gran Ron public park, the Botanical Gardens and the Royal Gardens – all these green spaces are connected to each other by bridges.
  • For tourists coming to Toulouse with children the ideal place to stay is Marengo-Jolimon. A beautiful promenade, playgrounds for children, a spacious rope park, and plenty of parks with ponds where you can go boating are all available to visitors.

Tip! The ideal place to settle in any area of Toulouse is close to a metro station, so it’s convenient to travel around the city. The Toulouse metro was built relatively recently (2007), it is fully automated and all its stations are adapted for wheelchairs and baby carriages.

Although Toulouse, like most cities in France, is quite safe, tourists are not recommended to settle in the southern part of the city – it is sleeping areas Mirail, Empalot, Bellefontaine. Also do not stay in Arnaud Bernand and La Reynerie, where a large number of Arabs live.

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On the popular website www.booking.com there are more than 700 options for accommodation of tourists who came to the popular city of France. This can be both hotels of different levels of stars, as well as apartments for rent.

You can rent a double room at 3* hotel for €55-125 per night, at 5* hotel for €150-270. Average price for a night in an apartment is 50-85 €.

How to get there

While in France it is easy to get to Toulouse. An international airport Blagnac is located 6 km from Toulouse, which receives flights from many cities of France. You can also take a bus or train to the city. Toulouse has excellent transport links with Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Barcelona.

Montparnasse is the name of the largest train station of the French capital. TGV inOui trains go to Toulouse from there. Usually there are trips at 2.5-3.5 hour intervals, but on weekends and holidays there may be changes in the schedule. The fast train to Toulouse takes 5 hours, the regular train takes 7.5 hours. Ticket prices are kept between 90-170 €. In Toulouse, trains arrive at the Gare de Toulouse Matabiau railway station, located in the city center.

There are also direct bus services from the French capital to Toulouse. Bus company Blablabus depart from the station Paris City Centre – Bercy Seine. The departure takes 2-4 hours and the trip lasts about 9 hours. The ticket costs 19-40 €.

Tickets for the train and bus can be purchased at the terminal at the station just before departure, but it’s better to book them online on the website flixbus.

All prices on this page are for August 2022.

Conclusion

This article has collected a lot of useful information that will allow you to organize a comfortable and interesting trip. You will be able to walk around, see the sights, observe the locals, literally dissolve into the life of the city. Leave a few secrets of this beautiful city unresolved, so that you have a reason to come here again – Toulouse, France is well worth it.

Video: interesting nuances of the city of Toulouse, walk the streets of the city of France. See for yourself!

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