Toulouse is a city in southwestern France, near the Pyrenees, in the Midi-Pyrenees region, half way between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon.
Toulouse has become a center of aviation and spaceflight in the past 20 years. More than 35,000 of the innercity's 400,000 citizens work in the civil aviation or space industries; Airbus / EADS is the largest employer in the region. The city has remained relatively unchanged despite the economic boom.
The city at the Garonne river is on the site of an ancient Roman settlement; even today many of the smaller streets follow their Roman counterparts and many of the red brick buildings are of a pseudo-Roman style. These buildings are also what gives Toulouse its nickname La ville rose (The pink city).
In the middle ages, Toulouse was one of the richest cities of France due to the sale of blue coloring (pastel) extracted from woad plants. This monopoly was only broken when the Portuguese began to import Indigo to Europe. Over 50 hotels, mansions, remain witness to the past wealth.
The tourism information office, Toulouse Tourist Office, is in the back side of the Capitolium.
Regular scheduled domestic and international flights arrive at Blagnac airport, about 20 minutes from the city. It serves connections from Paris about every 30 minutes. There are many other flights as well, for example to London, Munich and Frankfurt.
To get to the city from the airport, you can use a bus shuttle for about 5.00 € which takes about 30 minutes. A cheaper option is to use bus number 66 which would take you to the metro. Going by taxi will cost about 20 €.
Departure/arrival hall for your flight can be find out searching for a flight number at airport web site ; add space between carrier code and flight number.
Paris : 5h (by TGV) to 7h30 (common train).
Bordeaux : 2h00.
Marseille : 4h00.
The train station is almost in the heart of the city.
Cheap tickets can be found via iDTGV which offers TGV tickets from Paris starting from about 18 euro.
Toulouse is one end of the train line through the Pyrenees (TER Midi-Pyrénées line 22). This line passes through Ariège, and most trains end at the capital Foix. However, 6 trains a day continue from Toulouse and Foix on to Andorre-L'Hospitalet (the closest train station to Andorra) and Latour-de-Carol, at which you can change trains towards Barcelona. The train to Andorre-L'Hospitalet takes 3 hours, 30 minutes, and the full journey to Barcelona takes about 7 hours (including the change at Latour-de-Carol) and costs €30.
Toulouse is a big city, but the historical centre (downtown) is quite small, so you can walk to most beautiful and famous destinations in the inner city quite comfortably. This is definitely the best way to explore the city.
For getting in and out of the centre, Toulouse has a network of bus and metro lines. The bus services, called Tisséo, are complemented by metro and tramway lines.
The metro is relatively small, there are two lines, one going east-west (line A), and the other going north-south (B), but is modern and easy-to-use.
Page with the network map, and specific maps and schedules for all the bus and metro lines: 
This page features an online travel planner ("recherche d'itinéraires" tab) that will indicate the route and times to get from one place to another at a given time.
You should avoid going downtown with a car, as parking space is seriously limited. One good option is to drive to a metro station out of the center and park there, then head downtown by metro.
Toulouse has a small center, and you can reach most interesting places in the downtown area comfortably on foot.
Basilique Saint Sernin - a church from the 11th Century, partly restored by the famous french architect Viollet-le-Duc.
Hôtel d'Assézat - one of the most appealing of the many old mansions of the city
Capitole - the imposing and palatial town hall and theater, its beautiful facade facing onto the grand Place du Capitole
Pont-Neuf - despite its name(like the Parisian bridge of the same name, its title is most probably derived from the French for 'New', not 'Nine'.), the only old bridge across the Garonne river; built between 1544 and 1626
Les Jacobins monastery church, contains Thomas Aquinas' relics.
City park at the Grand Rond, a bit south-east to the center of the city
Les Augustins Used to be a monastery church, and is today an art museum
Les Abattoirs Modern Arts museum, and there is also a nice garden with a nice view on the Garonne
Georges Labit Museum Asian arts and Egyptian antiquities museum in an exotic and Mediterranean garden built in 1893, 17 rue du Japon
Canal du Midi. The Canal du Midi or Canal des Deux Mers is a 240 km long canal in the south of France, le Midi. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. The Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Airbus offers tours of their facilities; the tour takes about 60 minutes and includes a guide who will tell you some background about the company; the screening of a promotional / historical video, and a look at the A380 production line. Photography is strictly forbidden, and you need to bring a piece of photo identification. Book ahead. Those who have done the tour before 2006 should note that tours now set off from a new purpose built structure shaped like a cross-section of the A380. The building can be difficult to find so check the website in advance.
Visit the website of Airbus Visit, the unique company authorized by Airbus to provide tours of the A340, A380 and Concorde.
Cité de l'Espace
The "space city" is another of Toulouse's "aviation" attractions. However you must be aware that it is not exactly a museum but a sort of scientific theme park without rides. There are some replicas of spacecraft and other exhibits, many of the latter interactive in some minor way. There's also a small planetarium. The park is suited well to 5-14 year old children, everybody else should probably spare themselves the trip. It's situated fairly far outside the city but there's a bus service starting outside the Jolimont metro station.
By Public Transport (Bus):
Take bus route no. 37 from the Jolimont metro station going to La Plaine. Ask for the Cité de l'espace bus stop.
Admission Fees: For Adults : €18.5, for Children: €12.
Take a walk through the city and along the Canal du Midi
Have a walk along the Garonne river from St Pierre bridge and Pont-neuf during the evening.
Party at St Pierre Place: very popular among Toulouse's students
Rent a bike from Tisseo 'Velibe stations' for €1 per day which can be found throughout the city centre. The 'velibe' works like a bike taxi, with the first 30 minutes at no extra charge, but if you go over the 30 minutes you pay extra. You can use the bikes as many times as you like throughout your '1 euro day' fee.
See a Rugby Match. If you are fortunate enough to be in Toulouse on match day, follow the crowds and the excitement to the stadium and soak up the atmosphere while watching of one of Europe's top Rugby Union teams Stade Toulousain. If you prefer league, then Toulouse's very own Toulouse Olympique plays in both the Co-operative Championship and the Challenge Cup. The matches are very family friendly and the atmosphere is electric!
The Toulouse Alternative Arts Scene
Websites are in French
Toulouse is one of the most alternative French cities - maybe due to its huge student population and its historical past with half a million Spanish republican/communist/anarchists 'rebels' that settled in the region after they failed to rebel against Franco and escaped through the Pyrenees during the 'Retirada' in 1939. So even though the city is trying to get rid of them, it still offers a large number of squats, some of them hosting artistic movements. MixArt Myrys is one of the oldest and most active squat of artists within the city.
Les Motivées is an association that is very active on the political and social scene in Toulouse, and that organises or takes part in many free events, strikes, concerts, etc. throughout the year. They founded a political party a few years ago that is pretty active locally and holds a few positions with the City Hall Council. Check also the Tactikollectif their fellow co-working association on events like festivals, etc. that has its origin in the Northern quarters of Toulouse, which are the ones with social housing and lower quality of life.
La Grainerie is more particularly dedicated to circus and was first created and settled on derelict brown land ; it hosts various collectives of artists every year.
L'Usine is another residence for artists and collectives, located in the close suburb (Tournefeuille, 12kms from the City centre of Toulouse]
le Collectif d'Urgence Acteurs Culturels - Emergency Collective for Cultural Actors defends the local associative and alternative cultural world, whereas the Toulouse Réseau Unitaire Citoyen - Civil Unitarian Network of Toulouse aims at stirring local, social and political debates.
There are a lot of universities in Toulouse. It has the second largest student population in France: 120,000.
In Toulouse there are major universities and lots of engineering or management schools.
Anglophone travellers might find employment in the Aviation industry; however even here French is commonly used. Also, with the current heightened security concerns, extensive screening is required for new employees, so these jobs are not suited for short-term work.
Like all of France, you will not be disappointed with the food Toulouse offers.
Duck is a regional specialty, and thus many restaurants will offer duck for dinner.
Cassoulet is the most famous regional dish, a stew made with white beans, various kinds of meat, and pork skin.
Where to eat
restaurants at Victor Hugo market (Marché couvert Victor Hugo), Place Victor Hugo, ☎ Tel: 05 61 22 76 92, . Market open Tue-Sat, from dawn to 1pm. Restaurants take orders at least until 2:30pm. During lunch time go to the first floor of the market (that would be second floor for the Americans - in short, the one above the market stalls), you'll find 5 good restaurants at a reasonable price. Market atmosphere, and better be patient to wait for seats as no reservations are possible, but it is worth it if you want to feel a typical local atmosphere.
Opening hours in Toulouse are generally Mon-Sat 9AM-1PM and 3PM-7PM, but there are numerous exceptions.
As Toulouse is a city of aviation and spaceflight, check Airbus and the Cité de l'Espace for souvenirs
There's a flea market every Sunday morning near the Basilique Saint Sernin. While it does not offer anything too special as flea markets go it's a great way to mingle with a local crowd. Another flea market is held every first weekend of the month at the Grand Rond
Also a very nice market around the St Aubin Basilic every Sunday morning, selling producer's vegetables and fruits. Very relaxed atmosphere.
Every weekday there is a vegetable market before noon along the Boulevard de Strasbourg - this is actually the cheapest of all the vegetable and fruit markets of the city
There are excellent 2nd hand shops or "friperie", especially on Rue Gambetta and in the whole quarter behind the 'Ecole des Beaux Arts', around the 'place de la Bourse' which is the historical textile production quarter of Toulouse
If you are on a budget, the supermarkets where most students use to go are the brands 'Lidl' and 'Leader Price'. Those are to be found more on the 'edges' of the city (though some are accessible with the underground). In the centre, you'd rather go for Champion or Géant Casino.
InToulouse, 1 impasse du professeur Nougayrol. A small hostel outside of the city (5-7 minute Metro ride) run by a nice young couple who live on the premises. Very clean, very comfortable, featuring beds with real blankets.
La petite auberge de compostelle, . A hostel located in an interesting part of the city. Not much of a common area, but each room has an open kitchen and lounge area.
Hotel Le Grand Balcon, 8-10 rue Romiguières, ☎ +33 (0)5 34 25 44 09 (email@example.com, fax: +33 (0)5 61 23 50 33), . A hotel from the 1930s, has been completely renovated and reopened lately 2008 with a stylish design.
Gitounet (firstname.lastname@example.org), Avenue Camille Pujol, . A self-catering studio apartment suitable for 1 or 2 people (large double bed), with a total floor space of 18 sqm. Includes a fully equipped kitchen, en suite shower and toilet. Bed linen and towels provided. The apartment is situated to the east of the city centre, only 15 minutes walk from the Place du Capitol, with a frequent bus service. It is on the ground floor of a family house overlooking the garden.45 E/night.
Cap de Castel Hotel, (on the Pastel road), (email@example.com), . The Cap de Castel Hotel is a small charming hotel set within a typical medieval Mediterranean village, dominating the Lauragais hills and valleys, renowned as "Little Tuscany", in the rural south of France. The hotel is named after the 13th century Castel (in Occitan patois), outbuildings and ramparts forming the property overlooking south the Pyrenees and Black Mountain chains.60Eur to 165Eur.
Holiday Inn Le Capoul, 15 Place Wilson, ph: +33 56110 7070 (fax: +33 56121 9670). Rooms are up to 155 €/night (without any discounts you may get), plus 13€ for breakfast. The location is quite good; there are many decent restaurants of various styles in the immediate neighbourhood and many stores and interesting sights are within comfortable walking distance.
Novotel Airport is about 15 minutes from the airport, a shuttle bus exists. Has decent, standard Novotel rooms. Staff speaks little to no english however, except those at the reception.
Hotel le Clocher de Rodez, (email: ),. The two stars Le Clocher de Rodez Hotel is an 18th Century building. As one of Toulouses historic hotels, the building has sheltered numerous artists and musicians. Rooms from 50 to 100 €.
Hotel le Moulin de Moissac, (email:), . This three star hotel is the oldest in the area - it's five centuries old! Rooms from 46 to 100 €.
Toulouse has its own TV channel, which is only broadcast within the city and its close surroundings. It is still very well known to locals and is named TLT which stands for Télévision Locale Toulouse (Toulouse Local TV) - in French only
Intramuros, a weekly local newspaper with local news, the latest movies/theater plays/shows/concerts and local events of every kind, etc. - for free and available in various places e.g. alternative cinemas, etc.
A localised edition of the newspaper La Dépêche du Midi is also widely available.
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