Destination Haute-Garonne: Why Not Choose… Toulouse?
On foot or by bike, discover the capital of Occitania: historical heritage, contemporary monuments, charming residences, natural spaces, lively streets and a friendly atmosphere. Let us take you to the heart of the pink city! A city of sports and students, Toulouse has a dynamic reputation as a leading city in industry and efficient technologies. However, it also offers a taste of the good life, amidst its many shades of pink.
A City in Pink
At first glance, you will be struck by the colours of the city, which displays everything from the softest pinks to the most vibrant oranges. Over the centuries, Toulouse has been built mostly using tile and Roman brick (known as "foraine" in the Toulouse Midi), an ancient heritage which continues to this day.
Stroll through the narrow streets of Old Toulouse, and admire the hidden corners of the Basilica of Saint-Sernin. Those with a passion for architecture will find Toulouse truly delightful: did you know that the city holds the French record for the number of 16th-century private mansions? These are mostly concealed in pretty courtyards.
Visit the Musée des Augustins, a convent built in the 14th century, in the southern Gothic style, which since 1793 has been home to the fine arts museum.
Next, take a moment to stroll along the right bank of the Garonne River, the flowing soul of Toulouse, which governed the location and development of the city, as well as its economic activity, until the arrival of the railway in 1856.
Stroll or cycle along the Canal du Midi, then discover the Jardin des Plantes, a wonderful garden for relaxation and walking. Now, cross over the Garonne, to get to the Saint-Cyprien neighbourhood. This area, with its deep connection to the Garonne river, is a must-see for its Saint Nicholas Church, the old Convent of the Feuillants, the water tower, and of course its colourful and welcoming atmosphere.
Observe the walls and towers of the old ramparts, along the Raymond VI Garden, then enjoy a well-earned rest in the green space of the Prairie des Filtres. Don't forget to blast off into outer space at the Cité de l’espace theme park: a fantastic adventure for young and old alike.
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Capitole: the City Hall is organised around the Henri IV courtyard, with its statue of the king. The late 19th-century paintings and sculptures in the state rooms show the key figures and events which have marked the history of Toulouse.
Notre-Dame du Taur: this church recalls the fate of the city's martyred first bishop, Saint Sernin, who was dragged through the streets by a bull. It boasts a superb bell-gable with mitre arches.
The Musée Saint-Raymond: in a 16th-century former college building, this is the city's museum of antiquities. It has a large archaeological collection, with over a thousand pieces relating to the daily life of the Celts and Romans in the Toulouse region.
The Basilica of Saint-Sernin: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a key point on the Route of Santiago de Compostela, the basilica was built between the 11th-century and the 14th-century. It is one of Europe's largest remaining Romanesque churches. It is characterised by its majestic architecture and rich, sculpted décor. The relics in this pilgrimage church are displayed in the "Tour des Corps Saints" and the two-level crypt.
The Musée des Augustins: in a 14th- and 15th-century Augustinian monastery complex, this museum was created during the French Revolution. It is one of the oldest museums in France, and one of the best for mediaeval sculpture.
The Jacobin Convent: the old convent of friar preachers (Dominicans) dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s an imposing brick building, typical of the southern Gothic style. The interior of the church, split into two naves, displays remarkable use of colour and ribbed vaults, the most famous of which is known as the palm tree. Together, the cloister and monastic buildings form a beautiful ensemble.
The Saint-Étienne Cathedral: built between the 12th century and the early 17th century, the Saint-Étienne Cathedral is one of the most hybrid churches known, which is surely part of the reason for its charm. Inside, you will discover a monumental 17th-century organ, spectacularly suspended on the wall, and beautiful tapestries from the same period telling the story of the bishops of Toulouse.
The Hôtel d'Assézat and the Bemberg Foundation: the Hôtel d’Assézat, which is almost a palace, dates back to 1555-1557. Today, it contains a fascinating museum, the Georges Bemberg collection, named after the Argentinian billionaire who over the years accumulated this exceptional private collection. It includes paintings, sculpture and art from the 16th century to the 18th century, as well as French paintings from the late 19th-century up to 1930 (Impressionism, Nabis, Pointillism, Fauvism...).
The Canal du midi: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 240km-long canal was dug and developed in the 17th century to connect Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea, thus facilitating commercial trade towards the Atlantic. Fed by the Saint-Ferréol reservoir basin, it features bridges, locks and shady towpaths. Today, it is a very popular walking, cycling and boating site.
The Cité de l’espace: whether you are simply curious or truly passionate about outer space, this theme park for adults and children alike takes you on an extraordinary journey! See real spacecraft, train as an astronaut, travel to the edges of the cosmos, admire treasures from space and discover all the secrets of the stars.
A Gourmet City
Toulouse offers countless culinary pleasures! You must try cassoulet, Toulouse sausage, foie gras and other specialities from south-west France, washed down with the best wines from the region (Madiran, Cahors…). And in Gascony, goose and duck in all their forms take pride of place on menus!
If you're more of a dessert person, this is your mission: find the best place to get fénétra, a cake made with almonds and candied lemon. This very old desert, typical of Occitan cuisine , has its roots in Roman times, when it was eaten during the feast of the dead.
February: Violet Festival on Place du Capitole
In mid-February, Toulouse celebrates its violets, just as they are beginning to flower. On Place du Capitole, this emblematic flower of Toulouse is celebrated in all its forms: sweets, perfumes, liqueurs…
June: Grand Fénétra in Toulouse
Folk dance festival on Place du Capitole and at the Grand-Rond. The Passo carriero (parade) heads for the Capitole for the inauguration. It is followed by traditional singing, music and dance, with groups from France and abroad.
September: Toulouse à table
Toulouse sets the table, as part of the French gastronomy Festival. Toulouse à table, which first took place in 2014, celebrates gastronomy and the good life. On the programme: events, culinary discoveries and chances to meet talented figures from the region.
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