Toulouse is a capital of the Midi-Pyrenees region in south-western France. The city has rich culture and history. It is known as La Ville Rose (The pink city) thanks to the pinkish bricks which dominate much of its older architecture. The area has medieval heritage, a cutting-edge aerospace industry and an indelibly proud identity.
What the city is famous for?
Toulouse is famous for its successful rugby team and incredible local cuisine. There are also the largest universities in the country here. Only here you can find bilingual street signs (in Occitan and French). It is the seat of the Académie des Jeux Floraux, the equivalent of the French Academy for the Occitan-speaking regions of southern France, making Toulouse the unofficial capital of Occitan culture.
Toulouse city center is small and walkable, closer in atmosphere to a country town than a big provincial capital. With its elegant squares, atmospheric old town and lively covered markets, there are few cities which feel quite as authentically French as Toulouse – it’s like a southern version of Paris only smaller, cheaper and friendlier, with fewer crowds and warmer weather.
The city is located on the River Garonne. The waterway bisects the city center and makes it the heart of the everyday life. Flea markets and fairs appear along the riverfront several times a month and public parks sprawl along its banks, perfect for a picnic or an afternoon walk.
Toulouse was one of France’s most important trading cities and its merchants became fabulously rich. Their wealth can be seen in the beautiful Vieux Quartier (old quarter), which is located around the fabulous place du Capitole – a vast public square which covers two hectares, lined by amazing buildings including the town hall and opera house.
There are also several Romanesque churches to explore in the area. The most notable is the Basilique St-Sernin, built between 1080 and 1120. It is constructed from rosy-red brick with an elegant spire at the top and octagonal tower. The basilica contains the bones of St-Sernin himself and was once an important stop on the medieval era’s most important pilgrimage route.
Sights: Basilique Saint-Sernin, Place du Capitole, Church of Les Jacobins
Hotels: Grand Hotel de l’Opera, Crowne Plaza Toulouse, Le Grand Balcon