Toulouse - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Toulouse


Formerly the capital city of Languedoc, Toulouse has a history going back to the year 100 as a Roman colony. Its position halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea has placed in at the centre of many wars and conflicts in that time. Its eyes are firmly on the future now however, as Toulouse is now an epicentre of the European aerospace industry and home to one of the largest universities in France.

Toulouse is known as The Pink City due to its pseudo-Roman face brick buildings, which also contribute to its reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in France. It has many historic bridges, hotels, cathedrals and museums that are worth exploring in the downtown area, which is easily traversed on foot. The grand facades are interspersed with restaurants, cafes, shops and pubs that give the city a pleasant, bustling atmosphere, and a number of parks and green spaces to maintain tranquillity.

Its location near the centre of France makes Toulouse an ideal stop on any tour of the country; it is only an hour or two away from the vineyards of Bordeaux, the medieval city of Carcassonne, and even Donostia-San Sebastian in Spain. It is a popular stop on driving tours of the country, and a visit to Toulouse is a wonderful part of any holiday in France.

Information & Facts

Eating Out

France is a major culinary tourism destination, and Toulouse will not disappoint hungry travellers. There are many good restaurants in Toulouse serving delicious regional food. Duck is a particular specialty, and cassoulet, a stew made with white beans and meat, is a regional dish worth trying.

If you're not sure what you're looking for, there are a variety of good restaurants above the Victor Hugo Market that enjoy a good view of the bustling stalls below.

Getting Around

The small size of the city centre makes getting around Toulouse easy. It is possible to see nearly all of the main attractions on foot. Renting a bicycle is a popular way to move around the city, and if you have plenty of time you can take a boat along the Garonne River. There is a good network of bus and metro lines as well. It is best to avoid driving in Toulouse however, as any time saved will be taken up with finding parking spaces, which are severely limited.

French is the official language.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.


Toulouse has a vibrant nightlife with options to please every taste. Those looking for cultural experiences will find drama and ballet performances at the Theatre du Capitole, Theatre Garonne and Theatre de la Digue, orchestral and symphonic concerts at the Halle aux Grains. The Theatre Zenith hosts rock concerts, variety acts, and other touring performances. The Casino Barrière has glitzy restaurants and shows.

Toulouse has a number of bars, pubs and nightclubs as well, ranging from disco and hip hop to live music to chic cocktail lounges. The large student population ensures the venues in the downtown area are always lively.


Shopping in Toulouse is focused in the downtown area, where there are a number of nice markets. Flea markets are held each Sunday near the St Sernin Basilica and the St Aubin Basilica, selling local food and produce and other assorted items. There is a great open-air organic produce market at the Place du Capitole.

The main shopping areas of Toulouse are the rue d'Alsace-Lorraine, which has many clothing and houseware shops. Rue Croix Baragnon and the rue des Arts are the best places to find antiques, and there are many upmarket boutiques on rue des Arts, rue Croix-Baragnon, and rue St-Antoine du T. Rue St Rome has many department stores, and you'll find chic clothing shops in the rue de la Pomme.

Because of the many aerospace companies based in the city, items from Airbus and the Cité de l'Espace are popular Toulouse souvenirs.

Store hours in Toulouse are generally 9am to 7pm, and many shops close from 1pm to 3pm. Few shops are open on Sundays.


The soft rose-coloured bricks that give Toulouse its nickname, 'The Pink City', belong to beautiful historic buildings that make up the town centre. The Capitole building is the star attraction, with both municipal offices and the Théâtre National du Capitole housed within; while the 11-century St Sernin Basilica is among the largest in the world. Other beautiful buildings worth visiting include the Hôtel d'Assézat, the Musée des Augustins, and Les Jacobins Monastery, which houses relics of Thomas Aquinas.

Toulouse's attractions are not limited to the historical, however, as the Cite De L'espace theme park celebrates the city's large aerospace industry with flight-themed interactive exhibits and a huge planetarium.

Boat trips are a great way to relax and take in the sights of Toulouse, and are conducted along the Garonne River. Pretty parks like the Japanese gardens also offer places to sit and relax or run around and play in, depending on your age and energy levels.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

While Toulouse is known as the 'pink city' for its facebrick buildings, Albi is often called the 'red city' due to the spectacular crimson hue of the buildings at sunset. With a skyline dominated by the magnificent Cathédrale Ste-Cécile, there is plenty to see in the medieval town centre. Albi is also known as the birthplace of famous French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, and there is a great museum containing more than 600 of his works, along with those of Degas, Matisse, and Roualt. There is also an interesting museum dedicated to explorer Jean-François de la Pérouse. Situated on the lovely River Tarn, the historic city of Albi is a popular excursion from Toulouse, partly because accommodation here is notoriously expensive.

This theme park in Toulouse has its head firmly in the clouds, dedicating its 8.6 acres (3.5 hectares) to celebrating flight and outer space. Children will love exploring full-scale models of rockets and space stations, and teens will enjoy the feeling of anti-gravity in the Gyro simulator. There's a moon-walk simulator; and the enormous planetarium, IMAX theatre, and Terradome show educational films about space flight and the history of the universe. The park is located on the outskirts of the city, and is a great activity for children in Toulouse.

Of the many beautiful buildings in Toulouse, the St Sernin Basilica is one that should not be missed. The church, built from the area's distinctive rose-coloured bricks, is the largest Romanesque church in Europe and contains many beautiful frescoes and sculptures. The Basilica was built around 1100, and contains many relics, as well as the graves of Saint Saturnin and Saint Honoratus. There are free guided tours on weekends, conducted in French only.

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