Toulouse, capital of Occitania
Toulouse is an essential stop-off in the heart of the south west of France.
Once the capital of the Visigoths and now the capital of the air and space industry, Toulouse invites you to explore its 2000 years of history.
Here a Roman basilica, there a discrete mansion house with an imposing doorway, further on a converted industrial building, a façade with astonishing terra cotta decor, the murmur of a fountain, a hidden courtyard…Let yourself be guided through quarters that blend history and modernity. A city with a rich heritage.
Toulouse owes its nickname of « Ville Rose » to the use of brick. Listed as a « local craft » in the south around Toulouse, it has formed part of local heritage from Antiquity to present day. It dresses the façades with warming colours, from soft pinks to the most flamboyant oranges.
Finally, so that you miss nothing of the city’s cultural richness, you should throw open the doors to its museums and explore the remarkable collections of classical and medieval art, as well as contemporary works.
This is the emblematic building of the Ville Rose: set across from the Place du Capitole since the XVIII century, it houses both the town hall and the Théâtre du Capitole. It can be crossed via the Henri-IV courtyard behind the central gate.
The state rooms are lined up on the first floor, including the superb Salle des Illustres, a vast gallery of mirrors whose paintings retrace the history of Toulouse.
The basilica of Saint-Sernin
This basilica of brick and stone from the XI Century is actually one of the largest Roman buildings in the Occident! An ancient stop on the Way of St James, it is a listed UNESCO heritage site.
Beneath its octagonal bell tower you will discover an immense vaulted nave, as well as a crypt that contains numerous relics. Among them are those of Saint Sernin, bishop and martyr from the III century, to whom the basilica owes its name.
The Jacobins Convent
The most remarkable feature that is sure to surprise visitors is the unique vault in the form of a palm tree. The church, with its double nave featuring a painted décor and superb stained-glass windows, is also home to the relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas. As for the cloister of the convent, an island of tranquillity within the city, it regularly hosts concerts and exhibitions.
A jewel of southern Gothic art, this ensemble was established in the XIII and XIV centuries by the Dominican order.
The Hôtel d'Assézat
During the Renaissance, the city, grown rich from the pastel trade, witnessed the creation of many sumptuous buildings, including the Hôtel d'Assézat.
The sumptuous courtyard of honour serves as the backdrop from two façades marked by antique columns linked by a staircase tower. Nicolas Bachelier, the architect, worked for a great many of Toulouse’s families. The building was bequeathed to the city of Toulouse in 1895 and is home to academies and learned societies, including the Jeux Floraux founded in 1323.
The Canal du Midi
Several canals cross the city: the Canal du Midi, the Canal de Brienne and the Garonne Lateral Canal. Listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, the Canal du Midi links Toulouse and the Mediterranean Sea. Constructed under the reign of Louis XIV by Pierre-Paul Riquet and completed in the XIX Century by the addition of the Garonne Lateral Canal allowing boats to reach the Atlantic, this waterway can be travelled on foot or by bike, but can also be explored by boat.
In summer, take advantage of the cooling shade of the Plane trees and the peaceful green waters.
The banks of the River Garonne
One of the most beautiful views of the city features the Pont Neuf, the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques, the dome of La Grave and the River Garonne.
Promenades or sunbathing: in the very heart of the city, you can enjoy the banks of the river, most notably, along the Promenade Henri-Martin and at the Place de la Daurade.
Sources : Office de tourisme de Toulouse