Toulouse (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main attractions of Toulouse with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
The city of Toulouse (France).
Toulouse is a city in the south of France and the capital of the Occitania region. It is located in the heart of the French southwest near the Pyrenees, halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Toulouse is one of the most beautiful cities in France, with interesting brick architecture, rich history, sunny climate, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. La Ville Rose (translates as “the pink city”) is the name of Toulouse because of the terracotta bricks, of which many old buildings of the historic center were built.
Toulouse was founded on the site of an ancient Roman settlement. During the Middle Ages it was a popular pilgrimage site and religious center of southern France. Saint-Sernin Basilica was one of the stops on the route of St. James and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toulouse is now an important scientific, industrial and cultural center of the country.
Things to do (France):
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Geography and climate
Toulouse is located on the banks of the Garron river, 680 km from Paris. The old city occupies the right bank and the suburb of Saint-Siprien on the left. The climate is subtropical (Mediterranean). Characterized by hot summers and mild winters.
The Garrona River in Toulouse
- Population – more than 470 thousand people.
- Area – 118.3 km2 .
- Language is French.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The international airport of Blagnac is 11 km from Toulouse, which connects it with some major European cities.
- Toulouse has excellent transport links with Paris, Barcelona, Bordeaux and Marseille.
- The city is famous for its excellent gastronomy. The most famous local dishes are duck, Saucisse de Toulouse (fried spicy sausages) and Cassoulet (stewed meat with beans and greens).
- Toulouse is a very safe city. It’s enough to stick to basic safety rules and keep an eye on your belongings in crowded places.
Toulouse has a history of over two thousand years and it is one of the oldest cities in France. The Gallic settlement of Toulouse dates back to the pre-Roman times and was conquered by the Romans in 106 BC. Since the 4th century AD, Toulouse is the seat of the bishop. From 419 to 507 it was the capital of the kingdom of the Visigoths. At the beginning of the 6th century the Franks conquered Toulouse.
The streets of Toulouse
Toulouse was the center of the Aquitaine kingdom. It was besieged by the Saracens in 721 but held out. From the second half of the 8th century, Toulouse was the seat of the Counts of Toulouse, who controlled nearly the entire south of France. During the Middle Ages, the city flourished and was an important pilgrimage center because it was on the religious route of St. James.
In 1214, the Dominican order was founded here. In 1217-1218, Toulouse was besieged and taken by the Crusaders. In 1229, the University of Toulouse was founded. In 1271, Toulouse became part of the Kingdom of France and the center of the province of Languedoc.
In the 16th century (during the Huguenot Wars), Toulouse was a stronghold of Catholics. Later, the city’s importance declined. This has changed relatively recently. In the 20th century, Toulouse became the center of the French aircraft industry, and Charles de Gaulle commissioned the National Center for Space Research to be located here. This helped boost the economy and population growth.
Saint-Sernin is an ancient Romanesque basilica and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most beautiful churches on the medieval religious route of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. Saint-Sernin was built between the 11th and 13th centuries in red brick, typical of the architecture of Toulouse.
The building has a five-nave structure and a three-nave transept in the Romanesque style. The basilica is dedicated to St. Saturn (Sernen), who was martyred in Patras, Greece. His tomb is located in the apse. The interesting features of Saint-Sernin include a magnificent Romanesque façade, a portal with sculptures, a beautiful 17th-century choir, a huge carved Romanesque crucifix in the northern transept, 11th-century marble reliefs and a crypt with religious relics.
The Dominican Monastery is a fine example of Southern Gothic architecture. It was founded in the 13th century and was built entirely of red brick. The tower of the monastery church resembles the architecture of the tower of Saint-Sernin. The monastery has an austere exterior and exquisite interior architecture. The chapel of St. Anthony is decorated with paintings of the 16th century. There are also the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Capitol Square is the bustling center of Toulouse and has exquisite classical architecture. On the west side of the square you can see the beautiful arcades. On the east side is the famous 18th century Capitol building with its impressive halls. Behind the square is an ancient 16th-century defensive tower, and to the south are the charming streets of the old town.
St. Etienne is a cathedral that has been under construction for several centuries, and features several architectural styles. The first church on the site was built in the late 12th century in the southern Gothic style. Later, the cathedral was rebuilt in the North Gothic style to rival the magnificent cathedrals of Northern Europe. The structure of the church is highlighted by a massive tower, a huge rose window with stained glass, and intricate decorative elements of the facade. Inside, you can view 17 chapels and beautiful tapestries from the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Carmelite Chapel is a small religious building with magnificent murals inspired by the Sistine Chapel. The chapel was built in the 17th century and was part of a Carmelite monastery that was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi is a waterworks structure of 240 km long built in the 17th century linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Here you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and a relaxing atmosphere.
St. Joseph’s Chapel
St. Joseph’s Chapel is a beautiful 17th-century chapel that is the main attraction of St. Cyprien. It was once part of a medieval hospital that housed victims of the plague.
Notre-Dame-du-Taur is an ancient church with an unusual bell tower. It is built of pink bricks in the Southern Gothic style. According to legend, the church stands on the spot where the body of the first bishop of Toulouse, Cernin, fell, who was killed by the Romans and tied to a bull, letting the animal loose on the city.
Church of Saint Pierre
The Church of Saint Pierre is a 17th-century religious structure built by Cartesian monks. The church is decorated with magnificent 18th-century sculpture, frescoes and stucco bas-reliefs.
Notre-Dame de la Dalbade
Notre-Dame de la Dalbade is an ancient church with a very beautiful portal, located in the heart of the Carmes quarter. The history of the church goes back to the 6th century. The building was completely rebuilt in the 15th century after a fire. The church had the tallest bell tower in the city until it collapsed in 1926.
Ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre
The ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre are the only ancient monument in Toulouse. The amphitheater was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD and was used for gladiatorial fights until the end of the 4th century.
Notre Dame de la Daur
Notre Dame de la Daur is an imposing basilica located on the banks of the Garrona. It was erected in the 5th century on the ruins of a Roman temple. In the 9th century it became part of the Benedictine monastery. The old church was demolished in the 18th century and completely rebuilt.
The donjon is a 16th-century gunpowder tower topped by a bell tower in the style of Flemish architecture.
- Museum of Fine Arts, located in the former Augustinian monastery. Showcases a collection of paintings and sculptures. The collection of paintings includes works by artists from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including masterpieces by Perugino and Rubens. The sculpture collection spans the Romanesque period to the modern era. Among the sculptures, the most impressive are magnificent works from the late Middle Ages.
- The Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts (Bemberg Foundation), located in an extravagant 16th-century mansion. Here you can look at paintings, bronze sculptures and other works of art. The highlight of the painting collection are works from the Renaissance and modern French school, including paintings by Monet and Boudin.
- The Archaeological Museum (Saint Raymond) is a remarkable collection of archaeological finds and antiquities. The museum is located in a medieval university building. The highlight of the collection is a gallery of Roman sculptures.
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Toulouse, the mysterious “Pink City” in the south of France
Toulouse in France is a stylish, colorful and mysterious city of contrasts. It harmoniously coexists with the old winding streets, which were walked by Roman legionaries, and the largest space research center in Europe. Walking around Toulouse it is impossible to foresee who will meet at the next corner – a troubadour or a superhero astronaut.
A quick summary of the essentials
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 and Garonne canals converge, thus connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is the fourth most populous city in the country, with nearly 475,000 people living on 118 km². Toulouse’s Jewish community is the 4th largest in France, with about 30,000 members. 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.
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 thanks to such mass developments that Toulouse was called the romantic “Pink City”.
A side note. Under the rays of the rising and setting sun, the red-brick houses take on a truly fantastic look, and at this time the most luxurious photos of the historic 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.
Toulouse is a multifaceted and diverse city with so many attractions. Travelers come here to see perfectly preserved Renaissance architecture, visit ancient Catholic churches and interesting museums, walk 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 in the city.
On the Place du Capitole is a majestic structure, the facade of which is decorated with eight columns of pink marble. It is the Capitol, the City 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 ancient 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.
This green oasis covers an area of 7000 m². A bamboo grove, a rock garden, exotic plants, birds chirping in perpetuity as well as ponds with huge carps who adore bread, await visitors there.
- 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, in which exhibitions are now regularly organized.
- 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 prehistoric past of our planet and the evolution of life on it, the basic functions of all living beings, 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 Metro stations Saint-Cyprien-Republique or Esquirol, or by car from the east bank of the city to the west.
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 range from 16 to 38 € – all depends on age and season.
- The sight is located in the eastern suburbs of Toulouse, the exact address is Avenue Jean Gonord, 3150 Toulouse, France. From the city center you can get there 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.
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 may be as hotels of different levels of stardom, as well as apartments for rent.
Double room in 3* hotel you can rent for 55-125 € per night, in 5* hotel – for 150-270 € per night. 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 train station, located in the city center.
From the French capital to Toulouse there are also direct bus services. Blablabus buses leave from the station Paris City Centre – Bercy Seine. The departure takes place every 2-4 hours, the trip lasts almost 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.
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!
Author: Irina Kovaleva
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