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Toulouse, also named La Ville Rose – the “Pink City” – due to its red-brick buildings that seem to subtly change colour throughout the day, is one of France’s most exciting provincial cities. Once a city that inspired the medieval poets of courtly love, Toulouse has become a pioneer in technology and aerospace development. Toulouse holds on to a resolutely old-fashioned French soul, with its markets, regional cuisine and cafés interspersed between second-hand bookstalls and antique shops. This 2,000-year-old historical city shows off its brick and tile architecture, typical of the cities, villages and farms of the Midi-Pyrenees region. But with a growing and buzzing student population, the city is certainly not stuck in a time warp. With an abundance of bars, cafés, trendy shops and nightclubs, Toulouse offers a truly cosmopolitan experience.
France’s fourth biggest city has a lot to offer, and a stroll along the Garonne and the Canal du Midi is a perfect way to spend the day. With its 2,000-year-old history, Toulouse will satisfy everyone with an interest for architecture and museums but there are also activities for the more active traveller -hire a bike and pedal the 40km long way from Toulouse to Port Lauragais on the south bank or go on an adventure out of the city in one of the region's amazing parks. Young, family friendly and with lots of culture, Toulouse never gets boring.
Beyond the traditional dishes of Toulouse and its region, the city has become a vibrant and exciting food scene with quality offerings to satisfy every type of foodie and for any budget. Try out some local food like the delicious cassoulets, luxurious foie gras, duck, and the famous Toulouse sausage. One of the best places to enjoy a delicious yet cheap lunch is the covered market at Place Victor Hugo, where quite a few restaurants linger above the marketplace, serving up delicious meals made from the freshest local produce, straight off the stalls below. To help you find your way in this explosion of flavors, here is a guide to the best places to eat in the Pink City.
In buzzing Toulouse, taking a break between shopping sessions and visits is a pleasant necessity. Whether you like luxurious cafes with Chef-made French pastries or relaxed and trendy coffee shops, Toulouse has all your sweet-tooth needs covered. Here are a few picks from the countless options for a relaxed coffee break, an afternoon tea or a brunch offered by the city.
You will never stay thirsty long while walking the streets of Toulouse by night. From pubs to clubs, cocktail bars and concert halls, you can drink, dance and sing all around town. Toulouse's nightlife offers enough variety to seduce everyone and enough originality to surprise even the most experienced night owls.
If you were not yet convinced, here is yet another area in which Toulouse excels and never disappoints: shopping. From traditional French farmer’s markets to hipster and trendy new shops, through a selection of antiques and second-hand quality boutiques, you might consider losing your wallet as the only way out of this decadency. To give you a preview of what to expect in this ever surprising city, we listed a few of our favourites shopping areas and stores, for all tastes.
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