Toulouse is a city that I have discovered relatively recently and I love it! Here’s why:
Location – when we first came house hunting in SW France, we started with a long weekend in Toulouse. Now that we are based about 45 minutes away from the city, we visit on a regular basis. Friends and family will often fly into Toulouse and spending a day in the city is high on their ’to do’ list.
Toulouse is situated on the Garonne plain, half way between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is the fourth largest city in France and is the capital of the Occitanie region. It is easily accessible by train or TGV.
The city is also very well situated for visiting other places such as Albi, Foix, Cahors and Carcassonne.
Visually stunning – I think it is a beautiful city. It is known as the ‘ville rose’ or pink city. This is because the pink-red bricks of many of the buildings reflect the light and almost seem to change colour, according to the time of day and position of the sun.
Size – The centre of Toulouse is small enough to explore on foot. When we first went to Toulouse, we got some self guided walks from the tourist office. There were various choices: cultural, historical, green etc. There are also apps that help guide you around the city.
River Garonne – Toulouse is divided in two by the River Garonne. It is lovely just to walk along the tree lined banks and soak up the scenery but, especially in summer, there is usually something going on beside the river. It might be a music, art or a food festival. We have never taken a boat trip on the Garonne but they are available should you wish to do so. The left bank is where we first stayed, in an Airbnb, in St Cyprien. The right bank houses the old town and most of the sights.
Architecture – Where to start? There are so many beautiful buildings that my eyes are continuously out on stalks and I have been known to fall off the pavement because I am so immersed in my surroundings, instead of looking at where I am going. The old town is full of winding, cobbled streets. You never know what you are going to find round every corner.
The Place du Capitole is the obvious starting point. It is Toulouse’s impressive main square and a great place to enjoy a coffee, beer or aperitif at one of the many cafés. On the eastern side stands the Capitole, the city hall, built in the 1750s. Inside is the Théâtre du Capitole and the Salle des Illustres which is free to visit. There is nearly always something going on in the square from markets to music to sport. It look equally beautiful at night.
Food – if you love eating out you are definitely in the right place! The problem is where to start. Toulouse is famous for its cassoulet. If you have never tried this hearty dish, I would recommend that you do! The issue for us is that our house is in Castelnaudary, the birthplace of cassoulet – enough said! So far, when we have eaten in Toulouse we have sampled a wide range of restaurants. These have included Moroccan, Indian (I wrote about this experience here:)
and not forgetting some excellent Crêperies. There are many more restaurants we still have to discover!
Culture – There are plenty of museums and art galleries to visit in Toulouse. We have visited the Musée des Abattoirs in the Saint-Cyprien area, a contemporary art museum. When we visited there was an exhibition of some of Picasso’s paintings.
The Musée des Augustins, dedicated to the Beaux Arts, is another very impressive sight which we have explored and I would highly recommend. It is a former convent and is one of the oldest museums in France. Its architecture is typical of Toulouse and offers an exceptional setting for paintings and sculptures dating from the Middle Ages to the 1940s. The convent’s cloisters are very picturesque and lead to rooms with more than 4,000 pieces are on display.
Green spaces – Toulouse has many parks and botanical gardens where you can relax or stroll. I am including the Canal du Midi as it is very pleasant to meander along the canal path under the trees. Despite having a home which backs onto the Canal du Midi, I never get enough of seeing it in other locations!
I have only selected eight of the main reasons why I love Toulouse. I still have so much to see and explore in the city. I’m sure there will be future posts about ‘la ville rose’.
This post is linked with #AllAboutFrance. If you want to read a wide range of interesting posts, all focused on France and French life, this is the place for you! https://loumessugo.com/all-about-france-42/