Toulouse, Heart of the South
At the heart of the Midi region, Toulouse has always occupied an important place in the South-West of France. This 2000-year-old history shows itself in an architecture of brick and tiles that is typical of the cities, villages and farms of the Midi-Pyrenees region. Reflections of the golden light on the brick of Toulouse have earned it the name of the ‘Ville Rose.’
This very special colouring confers an atmosphere on the city that is at once gentle and warm.
Toulouse, France’s fourth biggest city, is bubbling over with life.There’s nothing like a stroll around the historic centre, walking alongside the Garonne and the Canal du Midi, or stopping in one of the many cafés whose terraces spill out onto the streets. All over the city, the ambience is friendly, tinged with the well-meaning familiarity that is particular to the people of Southern
Toulouse is also a major shopping destination. All the major internationally-renowned brands in fashion, design, leather goods and jewellery are represented in Toulouse. The city neighbourhoods also live by the rhythm of the open-air and covered markets. Here you’ll find local products from the Midi-Pyrenees, which is one of the South-West’s most important gastronomic regions – producing wine, foie gras, cheeses, charcuterie, and of course cassoulet – the Toulousain dish par excellence.
Toulouse, Time and history
2,000 years of Toulousain history have left the city scattered with a first-rate heritage that is representative of the Southern French style at various moments in history.
The Saint-Sernin basilica, a jewel of 11th and 12th century Roman art, is an important stage on the Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle pilgrimage. It is home to the grave of Saint Saturnin, first bishop of Toulouse in the 3rd century. The Jacobins convent buildings are visited for their Southern-French gothic architecture including the amazing “palm-tree”, a pillar from which twenty-two branches stem.
At the heart of the antique dealer’s quarter, the Saint Etienne cathedral bears witness to the evolution of several styles of sacred architecture. The city is also very rich in Renaissance townhouses: hôtel de Bernuy, hôtel d’Assézat, hôtel de Pierre… Not to forget the Capitole, currently the City Hall, with its magnificently decorated historic rooms and the immense ‘place’ with its Occitan cross. Sneaking a peek under a porch can sometimes reveal stunning gardens and façades. 19th century industrial buildings renovated as cultural venues prolong the tradition of brick – such as the Galerie du Château d’Eau, the Musée des Abattoirs or the Bazacle – a permanent exhibition space on the banks of the Garonne.