Funny, how difficult it is to write about a city, where you lived or where you are a frequent guest. We come to Toulouse at least two times per year, not mentioning 4 months spent here two years ago. The birthplace of our blog is Toulouse, but believe it or not, the only post we wrote about it was a small photo gallery of mediocre photos of autumn in the Pink city. Time to make amends. Consider it as a guide from insiders – we’ll gladly tell you about the best things to see or do in Toulouse.
But let’s start with some general information.
Toulouse is fourth biggest city in France (after Paris, Lyon and Marseille).
It is a real student city due to its numerous universities – that’s why Toulouse looks so young!
Toulouse is also called “Ville Rose” – Pink City. Unlike most of the big French cities, it was built mainly of bricks instead of stone. At that time this fact was a subject of shame, as an indicator of poverty, but today it makes Toulouse special and different from other cities in France.
It’s one of the most bicycle friendly cities of France – being completely flat, Toulouse can be easily explored by bicycle.
Time to find out what Toulouse is famous for and what makes it special.
Old beautiful streets… all in pink
Getting lost doesn’t lose its position among best things to do in any town – in Toulouse it is perfectly valid as well. Bright façades, picturesque bicycles, and stunning doors with fine carvery – so many things to admire. Make sure you walk through: rue de Taur, rue Saint-Rome, rue de Filatier, rue Ninaud. As well as all others around Saint-Etienne cathedral and place de la Bourse.
Canal du Midi
We have already posted about Canal du Midi and its twin brother – Canal de Garonne. And, to be honest, it’s my favorite place in the city, even if it’s not situated exclusively in Toulouse. Autumn, winter, summer or spring – it is always gorgeous especially if you are a bicycle enthusiast.
Place du Capitole
Capitole – town hall and the opera house of Toulouse is a signature of the city. Always full of movement, it’s a venue for various events, markets and tourism pilgrimage. Don’t forget to see Capitole from its “behind” – it looks even better from this point of view :)
Quays of Garonne
Always chilled, always relaxed, quays of Garonne is the favorite place of Toulouse’s youth. Street gymnasts, musicians or simply students who came to chat – it’s difficult to believe, that in the 60s, the quays of Garonne were supposed to become a traffic road. What a luck that the protests were heard and the project rejected!
We can’t pass by the most iconic monuments of Toulouse: Couvent des Jacobins, the Saint-Etienne cathedral, Saint-Sernin basilique, Roman amphitheater of Toulouse or Hôtel d’Assezat, les Abattoirs. More information about these and many others sites you will find on the official site of VisitezToulouse. By the way, they also propose quite cheap city tours on various topics, in French, in English and Spanish.
Hôpital de la Grave
Details de Toulouse
Couvent des Jacobins
Rental bikes is not a new concept, which is adopted in pretty much every big city of France, but still impossible not to mention them. Just like Vélib’ in Paris, Toulouse has its city bikes, which make the Pink City even brighter. And the best part is that it costs next to nothing – for 1.20€ you can have it for the whole day (assuming that you change your bike every 30 minutes), or 5€ for the week. I can’t imagine Toulouse without them.
One of numerous particularities of South-West of France is… the love to rugby! We are not big fans, but it’s cultural thing – to assist to the much of rugby, just like to see Basques playing pelota.
Public Gardens & Museums
Grab your baguette and have a rest in the public gardens of Toulouse (jardin des plantes, jardin japonais) after visiting one of the museums of Toulouse. Don’t miss a wall of skeletons in the Muséum, nor the exhibitions of the Quais des Savoirs – definitely worth seeing! By the way, the first Sunday of each months all the museums are free – check your timing. As Toulouse is the city of science, many expositions are devoted to relevant subjects: the most famous are Cité de l’Espace or Aeroscopia where you can see the fastest commercial plane of the planet – Concorde. And les Abattoirs for the art amateurs.
Everything about Airbus
Did you know that the Airbus planes are assembled in Toulouse? That’s why the Pink City is commonly connected to the planes and aeromechanics. One of the Airbus factory is opened to visits, but at high rates – make sure you are really a fan of flying machines before you decide to go there.
Food, drink, entertainment: our favorite spots
Just a suggestion of where to go and what to eat in Toulouse, far from tourists, verified by time.
Utopia: a cinema of alternative movies in a beautiful old place. The atmosphere is excellent as well as the selection of pictures.
Atelier des chefs: the best place to eat in Toulouse because… you cook everything yourself! Under the guidance of an experienced French chef – what can be better than this such French activity? Language barrier is not a problem when it’s food we are talking about. A perfect meal from 17€ per person with some new cooking skills as a bonus! (must be reserved at least a day in advance)
Ombres Blanches: a gorgeous bookshop where you can find everything. In French, naturally!
Around Place de Wilson: for the love of Asian food – a street of Japanese, Thai and Chinese food – always full and lively.
Xavier Fromager: nothing to do with our Xavier, but simply a temple of the finest French cheese. Bon appétit !
The several cafés in the Daurade area, to enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine on the terrace.
And of course, it would be a crime not to enjoy a good-sized meal of the Sud-Ouest specialties: duck in any way possible, saucisse de Toulouse, cassoulet and violette candies. Thanks god, there are more than enough places to try all this.