Toulouse is in the Midi-Pyrénées region, Haute-Garonne department . The area has incredibly diverse landscapes from the Pyrénées Mountains all the way to the green valleys of the Dordogne. It encompasses the richness of Gascony to the dramatic Gorges du Tarn. It has 33 UNESCO world heritage sites including the Canal du Midi and the St. Jacques de Compostelle trails along with the Saint-Sernin Basilica in Toulouse.
Toulouse is a dynamic city and the fourth largest in France. The cultural life, history and gastronomy are three of the biggest draws for visitors and probably one of the best-known products in the area is the sausage which carries the city’s name.
Toulouse Travel Guide: Getting to Toulouse
By plane: The nearest airport is Toulouse-Blagnac, 8km west of Toulouse. Flights from Paris take around 30 minutes and there are connections to major European cities.
Toulouse city centre is easily reached by the airport shuttle bus service (20-45 minutes depending on traffic conditions) or by taxi (taxi rank outside the arrivals hall) or by hire car from one of the many vehicle hire companies represented at the airport. You can also fly to airports in Beziers and Carcassonne and take a train into Toulouse.
By train: From Paris the journey time is between 5 and 7.5 hours to Matabiau station in the centre. SNCF trains operate to major towns and cities in France. Check the SNCF website for time trains and destinations.
Public Transport in Toulouse
There is a metro (underground train) service, trams and good bus service as you’d expect in a city of this size.
The old town is best seen on foot and there is a free shuttle bus that operates round the historic centre daily (except Sunday), wave and flag a bus down if you want to hop on! You can also rent bikes from the city bike stations called 253VeloToulouse.
Top things to see and do in Toulouse
Capitole – a massive, ornate building, an imposing and palatial town hall and theatre with a beautiful facade facing onto the grand Place du Capitole, one of the great squares in Europe where there is often a market.
Cité de l’Espace, Europe’s best space museum. The sight of the 150ft-high life-size version of the Ariane 5 rocket is an indication of what this very modern centre is all about. A constellation of exhibits include a full-size model of the Russian satellite Sputnik launched in 1957, a big chunk of Moon rock and genuine sections of the Russian Mir craft and the Space Station. You can even take a test ride in a Gyroscope (tip: don’t try it if you’ve just eaten!). www.cite-espace. com
Discover the fascinating world of Airbus and the world’s largest airliner www.manatour.fr
Basilique Saint Sernin – 11th Century church, partly restored by the famous French architect Viollet-le-Duc, very impressive and a great place to enjoy a concert in the summer season.
La Maison de la Violette – a violet-coloured canal barge dedicated to all things violet, eccentric, pretty and unique.
Hôtel d’Assézat – Very appealing and splendid example of Rennaissance architecture which houses an idiosyncratic collection of art and a very nice café.
Pont-Neuf – or the New Bridge, in fact the only old bridge across the Garonne river; built between 1544 and 1626
Les Jacobins monastery Church, Thomas Aquinas’ relics are held here.
Les Augustins – once a monastery church, now an art museum with works by Rubens, Delacroix and Corot.