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Tourists fly to Toulouse mostly because it is a gateway to the Atlantic coast in the North or the Mediterranean coast in the south of the city. This is a shame, because the city of Toulouse deserves at least a couple of days of your precious holidays. It is a beautiful town in the mild climate of southern France, at the feet of the Pyrenees.
Trading from coast to coast and beyond
This location between the oceans helped the city to rise in the early Renaissance period, when the main product of Toulouse was pastel, also known as woad or dyers-weed. The farmland around the city is perfect for this blue dye. The merchants sold it all over Europe and got tremendously rich. Today there are efforts to revive this traditional craft of dyeing with pastel. Still Toulouse didn’t become the Blue City for that dye, but the Pink City, “ville rose”, for the red bricks that shine in a rosy colour in the evening sun. Toulouse was important even in Celtic times and the Romans made the city the capital of the province Gallia Narbonensis. The location on the River Garonne proved to be a great asset, especially after the French had built the Canal du Midi that went down to the Mediterranean, and the Canal latéral de la Garonne, which went to Bordeaux and the Atlantic coast. A great and very peaceful way to get to know this part of France is to rent a houseboat and glide along the canals and the river lined with mighty plane trees.
Centuries of architecture in Toulouse
Take a walk through the city and discover the impressive Renaissance houses typical of Toulouse like the Hôtel de Bernuy or the Hôtel d’Assézat. Each has an impressive tower, which was a privilege of the rich merchants who had made it into the city’s magistrates’ council. The city hall itself also has this tower, but the rest of the building is from the 18th century. Today it has a curious double function; it is a theatre and opera house in one half of the building and the city hall in the other half. You can find it on the most central place of Toulouse, Capitol square. Another quirky landmark is the oldest bridge over the River Garonne, which is nevertheless called Pont Neuf, the New Bridge. It took about a hundred years to build it. For hundreds of years the bell tower of the Saint Sernin cathedral was the most visible landmark of Toulouse. Visit the Marché Victor Hugo, a covered market hall from 1892, and marvel at the many different types of food sold here. You can have fresh oysters from the Atlantic and venison from the nearby Pyrenees. Try the local specialties of Toulouse like Cassoulet, a stew of white beans and various meats, the Toulouse sausage, and Garbure, a hearty soup of meat and vegetables. Toulouse is also in the centre of the greatest wine regions of France: Languedoc-Rousillion in the south and Bordeaux, St. Emilion and Entre-deux-Mers to the north. Enjoy your stay in Toulouse, but don’t forget your flight back to London.
What else to see in Toulouse
- Roman Amphitheatre of Toulouse
- Saint Etienne cathedral
- Musée du Vieux Toulouse, museum with Celtic and Roman artefacts
Information Airport Toulouse
- Name: Aéroport Toulouse-Blagnac
- IATA Code: TLS
- Distance to downtown Toulouse: 8 km
- Transportation: bus, rented car, shuttle, taxi
Which airports are in London?
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- London Gatwick (LGW)
- London City (LCY)