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.
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
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.
Head to the Garonne River
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
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
We loved walking down the residential streets of this idyllic town.
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
Toulouse Travel Tips:
- Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city.
- Outline a basic plan using Lonely Planet’s Western Europe Travel Guide.
- 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. If you are planning to take the city bus tour, compare current prices at Viator.
- 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.
- We stayed in an apartment at Residence de Diane. As we were there in the slow season, it was easy to extend our stay by several days. Check prices at Booking.com.
- Toulouse is situated in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. We visited as part of a Loop from Barcelona with key stops in Madrid, Segovia, Cordoba, and Granada, in Spain; Evora and Sintra in Portugal; back through northern Spain, then into the French Pyrenees first to Lourdes, then to Toulouse.
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This is another post in my throwback series encouraged by moving all my photos to Lightroom. This post has been republished with new images and updated information. We visited France in 2012.
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