TOULOUSE CITY GUIDE
Capital of the Haute-Garonne departément, Toulouse is situated between Bordeaux and Montpellier in the south west of France. Nicknamed the Rose City after the pink bricks used for many of its most notable buildings, stained red by the iron in the area's clay deposits, this lively university city is full of fresco-covered convents, beautiful gardens and charming bridges that beg to be explored.
Exploring Toulouse Old Town
First growing in the 15th century as a roaring trade hub, the gorgeous houses of Toulouse's Vieux Quartier (old quarter) hark back to the lavish taste of its early residents. Lose yourself wandering through the winding passageways that lead off from the heart of the city, the Place du Capitole, with the spectacular city hall and opera house close by, before taking a short walk to see the octagonal spire of the Basilique Saint-Sernin, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here, the Rue d'Alsace Lorraine is one of the main thoroughfares and is full of boutiques and high-end shops to satisfy every shopper.
For culture, head to the fantastic Musée des Augustins to be treated to a world-class collection of Romanesque sculpture. To find the city's best stained glass windows, visit the Toulouse Cathedral or stroll around the peaceful cloisters of the Couvent des Jacobins, a true Gothic masterpiece.
North of the prestigious university, the Jardin Japonais provides a welcome respite for visitors and locals alike. Explore this leafy Japanese park before taking a walk along the charming tree-lined Canal de Brienne. Just across the Garonne, the rose-coloured bricks of the Les Abattoirs Museum of Modern Art contain an awe-inspiring array of contemporary and modern artwork.
One of the undeniable allures of the city is its gastronomic offerings. Peruse from a multitude of options at the many homely brasseries, treat yourself to a candlelit meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant or walk through the covered market of Les Halles Victor Hugo. Make sure not to leave before tasting the city's traditional cassoulet, a rich meat stew with mutton, white beans and the famous Toulouse pork sausage. If you need to wind down after all that food, you can laze by the banks of the river with the locals at the green oasis of Prairie des Filtres before idly crossing the iconic Pont Neuf bridge.
On the eastern outskirts of Toulouse, the Cité de l'Espace is one of Europe's finest space museums. Featuring a life-size replica of the Mir Space Station and a towering Ariane 5 rocket, this attraction is a must for any amateur stargazer. While the city has a League 1 football club in Toulouse FC, the Stade Toulousain rugby union side is the true source of local pride. Make sure you don the team colours of black, red and white before heading to the stadium to rub shoulders with the loud and good-natured home support. If you can't get hold of a matchday ticket, you can still make the journey to the team's stadium for a tour of the hallowed ground.
The Canal du Midi is a wonderfully scenic waterway, passing through Toulouse along a 360-km network which joins the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. You can enjoy a relaxing tour of this UNESCO protected route, passing endless vineyards and aqueducts as you go. If you have more time to discover the region, you can hike the mountainous terrain of the Pyrenees to the south, see the famous pilgrimage site of Lourdes to the west, or head east for sun and the delights of the Côte d’Azur.
Explore the fascinating capital of the Midi-Pyré with P&O Ferries today.