Toulouse is an eclectic mix of medieval architecture and modern aerospace leaving visitors wondering what to do in Toulouse first. Located on the banks of the Garonne River, its charming streets make it ideal for walking. One look at the faded red-brick facades of the old city and you will instantly understand the nickname “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City).
What to do in Toulouse: Place du Capitole
A main square in the city is home to The Capitole (the city hall), shops, cafes, and frequent craft, art, or farmers markets.
What to do in Toulouse: Churches, Cathedrals, and Convents
The city is home to over 30 churches, but some of the more notable include:
- Basilica of St. Sernin
- Jacobin Convent
- Toulouse Cathedral
What to do in Toulouse: Aerospace
Toulouse is part of Aerospace Valley, home to hundreds of companies affiliated with the industry. Located in and around Toulouse are Airbus, Air France Industries, Dassault Aviation, and Cite de L’Espace (theme park).
**Reservations are required to visit Airbus. If you are not carrying an EU passport, you must purchase two full working days in advance. Also, Airbus tours are strictly no photography.
Cite de L’Espace
Cite de l’Espace is a family-friendly space theme park. Our girls were 12 and 14, and both enjoyed it. For Jeff, my rocket scientist husband, the highlight is a life-size replica of the MIR Space Station. Highlights for the girls included a moonwalk and a gyroscope.
Pro Tip: If you don’t speak French, ask for translation headsets at the entrance. They are free, but not advertised. The headset will translate the I-max movie and the Planetarium show to English.
Head to the Garonne River in Toulouse
The Garonne River cuts through Toulouse, as does Canal du Midi. Along the river one can:
- Rent a bicycle
- Ride the Ferris wheel at the Quai de la Daurade
- Walk across the Pont Neuf bridge
- Take a river cruise
- Hire a paddle boat
What to do in Toulouse: Museums and Historic Sites
A few of the more notable museums:
- Galerie du Chateau d’eau (World’s first photography museum)
- Musée des Augustins (Fine arts including Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance)
- Muséum d’historie Naturelle de Toulouse (Natural history museum)
- Musée Saint Raymond (Antiquities focused on Roman art, plus a large ancient cemetery in the basement that contains many inscriptions and crypts)
- Academie des Jeux Floraux (Oldest literary society in the western world)
Step off the Beaten Path in Toulouse
We loved walking down the residential streets of this idyllic town.
What to do in Toulouse: Relax and Enjoy
- Stroll through peaceful Japanese gardens at Jardin Japonais.
- Settle into a cafe for breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee, or people watching.
- Dine on top-notch cuisine at one of Toulouse’s nine Michelin Star restaurants.
- Music aficionados can listen to Jazz or dance the night away with techno or rock.
- Enjoy a more sophisticated evening with ballet or opera at Theatre du Capitole.
Still More to See in Toulouse
Get a Toulouse Pass
Valid for 24-72 hours, the Toulouse Pass Tourisme will let you explore the city at your own pace. It includes free entrance to some museums and discounts at dozens of participating partners.
Importantly, most transportation is included with a Toulouse Pass including city buses, trams, metro, and the airport shuttle. In addition, you will save money on cruises and boat rental.
This pass is a great deal.
Toulouse Travel Tips
- Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city.
- Museums and monuments in the city centre are free on the 1st Sunday of each month, during the Night of the Museums, and on cultural heritage days.
- Once in town, head to the office of tourism to pick up free maps and purchase tickets for Cite de l’Espace and river cruises.
- The one-hour open-top minibus city tour is quite popular. Visiting both the old and new areas of the city, the audio guided tour will take you passed Ville Rose, Toulouse Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, Hôtel d’Assézat, and finally along the banks of the River Garonne and Canal du Midi. ⇒ Check pricing and purchase City Tour by Open-Top Minibus tickets in advance
- Take a free tour (with a donation) at Basilica of Saint Sernin.
- Free street parking is available in Toulouse from August 1 to August 15 as many family businesses are closed. The downside is the shockingly hot weather during these two weeks.
- If you’re arriving via the Toulouse train station, check prices and find the Eurail pass that is right for you.
- Toulouse is situated in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France and was a stop on our road trip through the mountain regions.
Where to Stay in Toulouse France
- We stayed in an apartment at Residence de Diane. A lovely self-contained unit with a large pool. We used it as a resting place, adding several days to our stay, one to just lay around the pool and enjoy home-cooked meals. As we were there in the slow season, it was easy to extend our stay by several days. ⇒ Check pricing for Residence de Diane
Centrally located hotels
- La Cour des Consuls Hotel and Spa Toulouse – MGallery by Sofitel: This top-rated five-star hotel looks like it caters to all your needs, even providing you with a robe and slippers. The modern rooms seem a stark contrast to the more traditional French ambience of some of the common areas. Pet-friendly, it caters to the entire family. ⇒ Check pricing for the La Cour des Consuls Hotel
- Pullman Toulouse Centre: Another five-star option, the Pullman is sleek and modern. Also pet-friendly with family rooms, it has a fitness centre, bar, and restaurant. Guests rave about the friendly staff. ⇒ Check pricing for Pullman Toulouse Centre
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