Deciding that France is the country that is your next destination shouldn’t be difficult. Filled with abundances of charm, culture, colours and cuisine there are always tons of things to choose from. Paris has the romance and Bordeaux has but there is one place that has often been overlooked until now, France’s fourth largest city: Toulouse.
Toulouse is situated in the country’s south on the Garonne River, a short trip away from the Spanish border and neighbouring minnows Andorra. Notoriously used as a stopover city, in particular for business travellers, tourism is on the rise in Toulouse and the city is finally getting the recognition it has long yearned for.
From Basilicas to Spaceships and the Capitole to Cassoulet, Toulouse is a city of contrasts making it ideal for a city break. Due to many of the buildings constructed with the pink-clay coloured bricks, Toulouse is also dubbed as La Ville Rose (The Pink City).
The city is easily accessible within Western Europe and flights only last about two hours.
Wandering made easy
Wandering through the centre of Toulouse is fairly easy. The centre point is Capitole de Toulouse. Steeped in it is said the bishop of Toulouse, Saint Saturnin was martyred here. The Capitole was also the centre of the Toulouse riots in the late.
Today, the Capitole houses many works of Renaissance art. It is used as a city hall, a wedding venue (Toulousains marry for free) and also houses theatre and opera companies.
As you’ll soon notice Toulouse is a pretty place with the colourful buildings down Rue d’Alsace a prime example. The city’s preserved cultural include buildings such as the Saint Sernin Basilica and Church of Jacobins.
All within walking distance of each other, the century-old architecture adds that element to the city, making it one for the cultural cats. Saint Sernin, from the 11th century, is the largest Roman church in Europe and since the turn of the century is an UNESCO.
Church of Jacobins, home to the relics of philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, has had many uses over the years including being influential in the creation of the first University in Toulouse and more recently used as an army barrack during the French Revolution.
The future is here
Whilst the Gothic wonders of the past are clearly earmarked across the centre of the city, there’s plenty of innovation happening on its outskirts. Toulouse has a large aviation industry with Aeroscopia Museum being home to the Airbus and also including the famous Concorde. With a timeline of aviation history and aircrafts of all sizes at hand Aeroscopia is fascinating for most.
Going one step further and into orbit, Cité de l’Espace is a park museum all about human interventions in space. This includes the life-sized model of spaceship Ariane 5 and Mir Space Station. Within the museum, learn about how it’s like to live in space, along with many interactive exhibits and activities to go with including Sputnik Earth’s first artificial satellite! Both museums are located beside Toulouse airport and are reached via metro and tram services.
Delicious Culinary Scene
Toulouse is full of quirky and yet the most famed dish here is the Cassoulet and no one does it better than at Emily. If you are unsure, friendly waiters can recommend great dishes.
For tapas options head to Monsieur George, where the decor and vibe are modern and the ham and cheese croquettes are a must!