Toulouse is colourful in every sense of the word. Grand buildings are witnesses to the wealth Toulouse built on the export of blue pastel; it gets its nickname ‘La Ville Rose’ because of the profusion of red brick; and with 130,000 students, its nightlife is more vivid than an Andy Warhol – although this city took longer than 15 minutes to spring to life.
Toulouse looks best when viewed from a walk along the Canal du Midi and the Garonne River, then along the 16th century bridge Pont-Neuf as it lights up at night. Toulouse feels best when partying at St Pierre Place, or browsing through one of the many squats hosting artistic movements. Look up Mix’Art Myrys, Les Motivées, Tactikollectifand La Grainerieif you really want to impress any culture-hungry tagalong travellers, and expect to find them exhibiting anything from graffiti to circus performances.
Toulouse's Top 10
10. Hôtel d'Assézat An alluring Renaissance palace that will charm your socks off.
5. City Park What’s an exquisite city without an exquisite inner-city park?
9. Canal des Deux Mers A World Heritage site connectingthe Garonne to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean.
4. Les Jacobins Not just a church – this also contains a number of old relics belonging to St Thomas Aquinas.
8. Georges Labit Museum This Mediterranean garden is now a museum containing Asian arts and Egyptian antiques.
3. Pont-Neuf This old bridge (with a name meaning ‘new bridge’) looks magnificent lit up at night – particularly after a few champagnes.
7. Les Abattoirs To believe or not to believe in contemporary art…
2. Capitole This town hall and theatre faces right onto the Place du Capitole.
6. Les Augustins In true Toulouse style, this old monastery has transformed itself into an art gallery.
1. Basilique Saint Sernin This 11th century church has had more reconstructions than Joan Rivers.
- Museum of Toulouse - This museum of natural history also boasts botanical gardens.
- Maison du Vieil Alby - A small museum that tells the history of Toulouse.
- Maison de l'Occitanie - Centre for the preservation of the Occitane language, it offers lessons in history and promotes the return of the language for natives of the area.
- Place du Capitole - This historic building and square is both beautiful on its own and the centre of life in Toulouse.
- Musee Saint-Raymond, Musee des Antiques de Toulouse - Discover the oldest archaeological site in France.
Toulouse Art & Culture
- Musee des Augustins - An art museum of sculptures from medieval times to the 20th century.
- Fondation Bemberg - This small art museum features paintings by great artists such as Tintoretto and Monet.
- Cafe Theatre Les Minimes - Come for a laugh at this theatre that puts on great comedy shows.
- Theatre du Capitole - Located in the Place du Capitole, this theatre is in the middle of Toulouse.
- Les Abattoirs - An art museum that exhibits contemporary art from all over the world.
- Delices de Tunis - You will fall in love with the Tunisian confections made right in the shop.
- Ombres Blanches - A book lover's paradise, this store covers several floors in several buildings. There may be no book you cannot find here.
- Marche biologique du Capitole - This organic market is open every Saturday, selling everything from fresh vegetables to freshly baked bread.
- Fleuree de Pastel - This specialty shop is named for the pastel blue that Toulouse is famous for producing.
- Photo Carmes - This photo shop takes everything from passport photos to family portraits.
Gay & Lesbian Toulouse
- Shanghai Club - Party at this gay Toulouse bar that features live music.
- La Lolita Café - A lesbian bar with a relaxed atmosphere.
- La Paradise Café - A lesbian cafe for dinner and cocktails.
- Beaucoup - Known as a local bar, especially nice in the summer when you can relax on the terrace.
- Art's Café - The name is a misnomer, because this is a disco with a pounding beat.
- Grand Rond - Walk around the bandstand or even see a concert if someone is playing there.
- Jardin Royal - Stroll this Toulouse garden and enjoy the beautiful day amongst the flowers.
- Jardin Japonais - Discover this very Japanese garden in the heart of the south of France.
- Garonne - Wander the banks of the river and perhaps you can feed the ducks.
- Canal du Midi - See for yourself why this has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
- Tour the city by bicycle along one of the many bike paths provided for the purpose.
- Golf at one of three courses: Téoula, La Ramée or Seih.
- Enjoy relaxing in the water at one of the Toulouse city swimming pools or saunas.
- Water ski the Garonne River, where all types of water skiing are available.
- Cheer on the Stade Toulousian rugby team as they surge to another victory. Toulouse is considered the heart of rugby in France.
The eclectic Toulouse d’Été Music Festival hits the high notes in July and August with the help of international acts and local performers.
The free Printemps de Septembre sees many international artists flock to Toulouse to talk shop during September.
September and October see the annual Festival Occitània paint the town red, with over 300 artists presenting 50 different cultural events.
Toulouse les Orgues International Festival brings this already-lively city to ecstasy over two weeks in October.
The Spanish film festival is called Cinespaña, Cinémathèque de Toulouse is one of the theaters for the festival shows the city in a new light each October.
When To Go
- Spring and autumn are generally warm, but can also be wet and windy – particularly in May.
- Summer is pleasant, but quite humid. Although the average summer temperature is just 20ºC (68ºF), it is not uncommon to see 30ºC (86ºF) days.
- The coldest months are January and February, with temperatures dropping to 4ºC (40ºF).
- Hiring a car isn’t recommended. Parking will drive you insane and, let’s face it, you’ll probably have too many wines with dinner anyway.
- Toulouse has a busand a metroline. They are great for getting in and out of the city centre and are known as Tisseo.
- You can rent a bicycle from Tisseo ‘Velibe stations’ for just €1 per day.
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