The Ville Rose on the Garonne
Chief town of the Haute Garonne (Midi-Pyrénées), a short distance from the Pyrenean mountain chain, the city owes its name of ‘Ville Rose’ (pink city) to the pink colour of the bricks used to construct the old town’s buildings.
Toulouse has a wonderful artistic heritage that ranges from majestic Romanesque and Gothic Churches to prestigious stately Renaissance buildings: the latter were, among other things, decorated in a special blue colour derived from woad or “pastel”, a plant that produced this very rare colour which was much coveted by artists and which, with its cultivation and trade, made the economic fortune of the city in the sixteenth century.
The noble Renaissance palaces
Important buildings in Toulouse include the Hôtel d’Assérat, a magnificent private seventeenth-century palace and headquarters of the Académie des Jeux Floraux and Fondazione Bemberg, which houses a collection of paintings, bronzes and art objects, and the Hôtel de Bernuy, home to the Pierre de Fermat secondary school, which is characterised by an octagonal tower, the highest in the city.
The religious buildings
The religious buildings are imposing, such as the Basilica of Saint Sernin, a large twelfth-century Romanesque church built to house the remains of Saint Saturnin or Sernin, with an unusual octagonal tower; the church is very popular with worshippers because it is located along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a pilgrimage that begins in the Pyrenees.
The Cathedral of St. Etienne, the city’s primary place of worship, is also Romanesque, while the Church of the Jacobins, which preserves the remains of the ‘Doctor’ of the church St. Thomas Aquinas, is built in Gothic style.
Among the many splendid civil buildings is the Capitole, the heart of municipal administration with a rich Baroque façade. A visit to the Museum, with its rich collection of palaeontology and ornithology items, is well worth while, as is the unique Museum of the History of Medicine, which illustrates the history of Toulouse in the field of health care and surgery in city hospitals over a period of seven centuries.
Each place, monument or museum is within easy reach, because Toulouse is small enough to be visited on foot, by bike or even boat on the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or on the River Garonne, which crosses the city.
However, Toulouse is also an active industrial city where the latest prestigious airbus aircraft are built and where, at the factory, enthusiasts can visit the assembly line of these giants of the air.
The Space City
An indispensable addition to the city, therefore, is the Cité de l'espace (Space City), an interactive place where visitors, large and small, can find the MIR space station, jump on board Soyuz space modules, climb into the European Arianne V rocket or even watch on the Imax, a gigantic screen as tall as a six-floor building, a series of films taken in space.
Toulouse also holds numerous festivals, some of which are truly unique, such as the Fete de la Violette, emblematic flower of the city, which is held in February, the month in which this sweet-smelling flower, used by the people of Toulouse even in drinks and sweets, is gathered. The Festival of Rio Loco is instead an attraction for sharing the cultures of nearby countries; the Carnival is also very popular, with floats and costumes making their way through the town in the midst of a lively atmosphere created by residents, which is also expressed in the Marathon of Toulouse Métropole.
Considered the gateway to the region of the Midi-Pyrénées, near to Languedoc Roussillon, the position of Toulouse make it the ideal starting point for going in discovery of France’s most beautiful towns such as Albi, Lourdes, Moissac, Rocamadour, Carcassonne and many others.
Paté de foie gras
Cassoulet of Toulouse
In the evening the atmosphere is almost unreal, with displays of light that change the appearance of the facades of the monuments of the city, as well as the River Garonne. Restaurants and bistros propose the best of creations made from the products of the South of France: pâté de foie gras, duck fillets, cassoulet, Toulouse sausage, cheeses such as Roquefort or the Tomme of the Pyrenees, and superb wines such as Fronton and Gaillac, or the famous distilled Armagnac.
Text by Anna Glik
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WHERE TO GO
NOTRE-DAME DE LA DAURADE BASILICA
SAINT SERNIN BASILICA
CITY HALL - PLACE DU CAPITOLE
CANAL DU MIDI
MUSEUM IN THE CONVENTUAL COMPLEX OF THE GIACOBINI
LES AUGISTINS MUSEUM
SAINT BERTRAND DE COMMINGES
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Destinations found in the vicinity
Airports nearby Toulouse
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