Toulouse, La ville rose by the Garonne

Toulouse is one of the largest cities in France and is the capital of the Haute-Garonne department. It also known as "La Ville Rose" because of the distinctive pink stones used to build the houses. The Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees are a 1.5-hour drive away. The fact that Toulouse is located in the south of France is clearly noticeable. During your holiday, you will hear that the French language is peppered with Spanish sounds. In the Old Town "Old Quarter" you’ll find medieval streets with nice shops, boutiques, restaurants, cozy terraces and the market hall Victor Hugo. Toulouse has more than 20 Museums and various imposing church buildings. You can explore the city using the Tourism Pass, use the rental bicycles, join a city walk or hop on the tourist train. This will allow you to visit the Place du Capitole, the cathedral St. Stephen and the basilica St. Sernin. The "Cité de l'Espace" lies on the outskirts of Toulouse and is an area everything has to do with aviation, the manufacture of the Airbus, the Ariane rocket and the Concorde.

Toulouse and the Garonne River

The River Garonne flows from the Pyrenees right through Toulouse to finally end up in the Atlantic Ocean. The Canal de Brienne connects the Garonne to the Canal du Midi, which is on the Unesco list. Along the river there are beautiful promenades such as Quai de la Daurade and Henri-Martin with benches and lawns where the people of Toulouse like to go in the summer. A popular spot on the Garonne is also the Port of La Dorade or the Place St. Pierre. There are beautiful houses with centuries-old plane trees on the quays. Several bridges not only connect the two halves of Toulouse, but also connect the departments Gascony and Languedoc. The oldest bridge over the Garonne is the "Pont Neuf" which is 220m long and consists of 7 arches. It was built in the 16th century by order of King François I. In the evening, the Pont Neuf is illuminated. Also clearly visible is the large dome of the Dôme de la Grave. Every summer, in Port Viguerie an artificial beach is created which is known as "Toulouse Beach". You can swim or paddle board here. Also check out the "Guinguettes", which are pop-up outdoor bars by the water or even floating on the water. Locals also like to relax in the Japanese Botanical Garden "Pierre Baudis Japanese Garden" in the Compans-Caffaelli district or in the Jardin des Plantes. In the Jardin Japonais there is a Japanese Zen rock garden, various statues, Japanese steps, waterfalls, a small lake and a striking red bridge. In the park there is also a small museum with information about Japan. You can visit this park for free. The Jardin des Plantes is an urban park with Playgrounds, merry-go-rounds and other attractions.

Festivals & Events

  • Fête de la violette de Toulouse (February)
  • Les Fous du Rire et le Printemps (March)
  • Carnaval de Toulouse (april)
  • Le Marathon des mots (April and June)
  • Festival MAP fototentoonstellingen - June
  • Fête de la Musique (June)
  • Les Siestes électroniques (June)
  • Tangopostale, Argentijnse tango (July)
  • Zomerfestival Toulouse (14 July)
  • Toulouse Plage – (July-August)
  • Festival Piano aux Jacobins (September)
  • Fête de la Gastronomie (September)
  • Le Printemps de Septembre (September)
  • Cinespaña, festival Spaanse film (October)
  • Festival Toulouse les Orgues (October)
  • Marathon de Toulouse Métropole (October)
  • Noel Enchanté (December)

Place du Capitole

"Place du Capitole" is the central town square in Toulouse. Lively streets with red-coloured mansions lead to this square from all directions. The square is surrounded by imposing buildings. The big eye-catcher is the Capitole, the town hall and the opera house of Toulouse. The neoclassical building resembles Buckingham Palace in London. The 128m long façade has eight pink marble columns, typical of La Ville Rose. The Salle des Illustres is the most beautiful room in the building. The walls and arched ceilings are beautifully painted. Around the square there are mainly restaurants, cafes and cozy terraces. During your holiday you should take the time to have a drink here and to rest but above all to enjoy the impressive buildings. Events often take place on the square. On Wednesdays there is always a market. This market is one of the largest markets in Toulouse.

Cloister, basilica and cathedral

There are many religious buildings in Toulouse. One of the most important is the Jacobin Church or "Couvent des Jacobins" which was built in the 13th century. The Dominican order originated in Toulouse  and the Dominican order is still located in this church and monastery. The monastery has a beautiful courtyard. The unique stained-glass windows creates beautiful light effects in the building. The Basilica of Notre Dame de la Daurade with a black Madonna is located by the Garonne river. One of the most beautiful sights in Toulouse is the Basilique de Saint-Sernin, which is also on the Unesco World Heritage List. It is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe and was built for the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The Cathedral of St. Etienne was built in various architectural styles between the 11th and 17th century. Actually, it's still not finished. If you look closely, you will see unfinished parts.

Hôtel d'Assézat

A hôtel is a city palace or large and luxurious house in the city where a nobleman often lived. This was also the case at the Hôtel d'Assézat, a beautiful house built in Rénaissance style in the 16th century by Pierre Assézat. This wealthy merchant from Toulouse was a Protestant and was therefore chased away from Toulouse by the Roman Church, even before the house was completed. In 1914, the Hôtel d'Assézat became a listed building and was completely renovated in 1995. Today, the Fondation Bemberg and the Académies Savantes are located in this building. Georges Bemberg was a wealthy Argentine art lover who housed his collection of paintings and other works of art here. On the first floor you’ll find the classical works and on the second floor you’ll find the modern works of art, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Also visit the courtyard which has a tearoom where you can have a drink after your visit to this building.

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Go shopping in Toulouse during the holidays

You’ll find plenty of shopping streets around the the Place du Capitole, between the Basilica of St. Sernin and Place des Carmes. It is a compact area that is car-free and has well-known brands, nice boutiques and all kinds of specialty shops. Well-known shopping streets are Rue de Metz, Rue St. Rome, Rue Alsace-Lorraine. Also walk into the narrow side streets such as Rue de la Bourse, Rue Ste. Ursule, Rue de la Pomme and certainly also Rue Boulbonne. The more expensive brands and chic shops can be found on Place Esquirol and Place St. Etienne. We also recommend visiting the famous Marché Victor Hugo. This market together with Les Carmes and Saint-Cyprien, are the covered markets in Toulouse. You can buy all kinds of things here such as French cheeses, delicious wines, fish, vegetables and many other products. Even if you don't need anything, it's nice to go in here to experience the atmosphere. There are also restaurants on the first floor.

Machine Hall

Huge beasts, a spider, dragon, cow or minotaur like you may know from movies can be spotted walking around the Halle de la Machine, and sometimes even on the streets of Toulouse. These mechanical fantasy creatures were designed by the engineer and visionary François Delarozière. They are made of wood and steel and move slowly so that it looks like they are walking on their own. These animals of about 13m high can be seen coming from afar and have an overwhelming impression. It is possible to take a ride on the backs of these animals. In the large warehouse where these animals are housed, you can find even more futuristic designs such as musical instruments made from recycled materials or a dinner with mechanical servers.

Toulouse culinary

In terms of cuisine, Toulouse is very diverse. It is a city with 120,000 students, so it makes sense that there are many cheap restaurants and trendy bars. Place de la Trinitat and Rue des Filatiers are well-known meeting points. Rue des 7 Troubadours, Rue Gabriel Péri and Rue de la Colombette are also worth seeing. There is live music in various places, especially near the quays of the Garonne, Place St. Pierre or Place St. Georges. A typical regional dish of Toulouse and the surrounding area is the Cassoulet: Slow-cooked white beans, duck leg confit and sausage in an earthenware dish. Another popular dish is Pastis pommes, a type of apple pie. Enjoy this dish warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

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