Toulouse

Toulouse is a city in southwestern France, near the Pyrenees, capital of Haute-Garonne 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, and it is known as the capital of French rugby and for violets, which are used to make bonbons and liqueurs there.

Toulouse Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse)

Understand

Hôtel Dieu Saint-Jacques courtyard

Toulouse has become a center of aviation and spaceflight in the past 20 years. More than 35,000 of the inner city'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.

Toulouse is also heavily involved in research and education, being home to over 100,000 students. The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1229.

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 Toulouse Tourist Office is in the back of the Capitolium.

Get in

By plane

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 the airport shuttle for €5.50 which takes about 30 minutes. Another option is to use the tramway line T2 which connects the airport to the inner city for €1.60.

Going by taxi is also another option, and it will cost about €20.

The departure/arrival hall for flights can be found by searching for the flight number at the airport website.

By train

The 18th-century Building 8, place Sainte-Scarbes

Trains run from Toulouse-Matabiau station in the city centre. Regular TGV services run to Bordeaux, Paris and Lyon with connections to other destinations at any of these cities as well. Especially cheap tickets for Paris can be found via iDTGV starting from about €18. There are also regular intercity connections for Bordeaux and Marseille (with stops at Carcasonne, Montpellier and Arles, among others) and for Paris via Limoges and Orléans. In addition, Spanish railways RENFE runs a daily AVE service to Barcelona in cooperation with SNCF.
Approximate travel times are as follows:

For all these long-distance relations, the general rule is that booking early will give you cheaper fares. The timetable and fares can be found at .

Toulouse is one end of the very scenic train line through the Pyrenees (TER Midi-Pyrénées line 22). This line passes through Ariège, and most trains end at in 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. The schedule for the French train is on the Touristic Routes section of the SNCF website, while the Spanish schedule can be found by looking on the Rodalies de Catalunya page. The Catalan name of Latour-de-Carol is La Tor de Querol as listed on the Rodalies webpage.

By car

Major highways towards Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Barcelona

By bus

Bus and metro terminal at the railway station.

Bus services to Spain, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal can be made through Alsa bus departing from the main bus station in Toulouse.

Get around

The landmarked building at 20 place du Président Thomas Wilson

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. But most bus services stop around 21:30 so you could be stranded. There is only one, licensed taxi operator (Capitole Taxi) and the service can be very poor. If you want to get back to your hotel after the buses have stopped, you need to pre-book a taxi or be prepared for a wait which could be over an hour.

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. The line C, leaving from the station Arènes, is not a metro line, but is a regional above-ground train which serves communities to the west of Toulouse including St. Martin du Touch, Colomiers, and l'Isle Jourdain, all the way to the city of Auch in the department Gers. The tramway also leaves from the station Arènes, and serves the northern city of Blagnac. There is another tramway line under construction, which will run alongside the Garonne.

Public transport company web site:

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.

By car

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.

See

Ambulatory ceiling - Cathedral Saint-Etienne
Toulouse Capitole at night

Toulouse has a small center, and you can reach most interesting places in the downtown area comfortably on foot.

Museums

Museum des Augustins, Augustinian convent before French Revolution
An Ariane 5 rocket, with models of Saturn and Jupiter in the foreground, at Cité de l'Espace in Toulouse.

Do

Rugby union match in Toulouse.

The Toulouse Alternative Arts Scene

Websites are in French

Learn

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.

Work

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.

Eat

Local specialties

Filet of duck breast covered by a slice of foie gras

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

Interior of Café Bibent, a historical monument

Buy

Opening hours in Toulouse are generally Mon-Sat 9AM-1PM and 3PM-7PM, but there are numerous exceptions.

Sleep

The mid 19th-century Hotel le Grand Balcon, classed as a historical monument by the French Ministry of Culture, still takes reservations today

Hostels

Hotels

Cope

The world heritage listed Canal du Midi

Consulates

List of Consulates in Toulouse available at: http://www.toulouse.fr/international/consulats

Local media

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, February 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.