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Cruise On The Canal De Brienne And The Garonne©arnaud Spani

Discover Toulouse: the Pink City

To the point

Head for Toulouse, the pink city. There is a host of activities to discover related to art, history and aeronautics.

Collaboration agreement between Toulouse and Montreal

Why tell you about the attractions of Toulouse? Because this city certainly has what it takes to charm. What’s more, a cooperation agreement has just been signed for the next three years between Jean-Luc Moudenc, Mayor of Toulouse and President of Toulouse Métropole, and Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal.

The cities of Toulouse and Montreal share common challenges with top-tier industries such as aeronautics and artificial intelligence, but also in the fields of health, tourism and cultural and creative industries.

Thanks to these links, which we are strengthening, we will promote exchanges and synergies between our ecosystems, in the service of our future developments and the urban challenges we must meet.

Jean-Luc Moudenc, Maire de Toulouse, Président de Toulouse Métropole
signature entente montreal toulouse
Valérie Plante, Mairesse de Montréal et Jean-Luc Moudenc, Maire de Toulouse, Président de Toulouse Métropole

Between sea and mountains

So here it is, the pink city, the beautiful Toulouse. Located in the southwest of France, it is close to both the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. The best of both worlds.

It is said to be pink because of the colour of many buildings. These bricks vary between shades of pink and orange and give the streets a pastel tone. Inspiring picture, isn’t it?

centre ville de toulouse de nuit © arnaud späni
Centre Ville de Toulouse de nuit © Arnaud Spani

Canals and parks

Toulouse is criss-crossed by canals which allow bucolic boat trips: Canal du Midi, the Brienne canal and the Garonne river side canal. The river rises in the Pyrenees mountains and flows through the city before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

More than 160 parks and gardens, as well as the banks of the river and its alleys shaded by plane trees invite us to picnic and relax. Like in a Renoir painting.

You can apparently admire one of the most beautiful views of the city, the Pont-Neuf (which is 300 years old), the Dome of the Chapel of St. Joseph de la Grave and the river Garonne.

pont neuf © arnaud späni
la grave exterieur © arnaud späni
La Grave - Extérieur © Arnaud Spani

A second view point is also recommended. It lets you marvel over the historic center with its bell towers, towers, monuments and roofs of Toulouse. You’ll be able to tell us, with a drink in hand, comfortably installed on the terrace of the rooftop Ma Biche.

ma biche sur le toit

And don’t forget to bring your American Express Cobalt™ Card with you when you travel to earn 5 points per dollar for all your spending at restaurants, bars and grocery stores in France!

Toulouse and its thousand-year-old heritage

The city has over 2,000 years of art and history. It has been awarded the “Ville d’Art et d’histoire” (City of Art and History) designation, a nice recognition of its rich heritage and its conservation efforts.

Hundreds of guided tours help us discover the witnesses of these two millennia. On foot, on a scooter or electric bike, on a segway-gyropod, on a hop-on hop-off bus, by boat, by canoe, through treasure hunts with riddles or with a Toulouse “greeter”, the tourist offer is very generous.

city game © granhota-games

Its buildings

The Capitol

Located on the square of the same name, it represents both the heart and the emblematic building of the Pink City. This is also where you can find the town hall and a theatre.

You enter through the Henri-IV courtyard to access its superb reception rooms, which are free to visit. A must.

place du capitole © arnaud späni
Place du Capitole © Arnaud Spani
Place du Capitole soir
Place du Capitole soir

The Basilica of Saint-Sernin

The Basilica of Saint-Sernin, whose octagonal bell tower stands out, is one of the largest Romanesque buildings in the West and a major stop on the pilgrimage route to Compostela. As such, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The crypt is free to enter to see its important collection of relics (which places it just behind St. Peter’s in Rome). You can admire the great organs signed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and classified as a historical monument (Toulouse still has 3 of these organs almost intact). Linger on the mosaic dedicated to St-Saturnin which inspired the logo and colours of the famous rugby team Stade Toulousain (ST!).

Then adjacent to the basilica, an invitation to take a leap in time at the Musée St-Raymond, Toulouse’s museum of archaeology, which has been given the title of “Musée Joyeux”, or “Happy Museum” (how cute!). It has, in addition to a beautiful crypt, an exceptional collection of Roman sculptures, the second biggest in France after the Louvre. Art, history and culture lovers, you’ll be pleased!

interieur de saint sernin
Intérieur de Saint Sernin © Arnaud Spani
clocher de saint sernin © arnaud späni
Clocher de Saint Sernin © Arnaud Spani
place saint sernin © arnaud späni

Convent of the Jacobins

The Convent of the Jacobins is a gothic building built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Dominican order.

It is astonishing because of its arch, which reminds of palm branches. The church also has beautiful stained glass windows and houses the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas. Concerts and exhibitions are also held in the cloister and refectory of the convent.

couvent des jacobins © arnaud späni
Couvent des Jacobins © Arnaud Spani

Its guided tours

Toulouse also has many museums to complete the cultural visit of the city: classical art, medieval or contemporary works. For example, the Musée des Augustins (the Fine Arts Museum) is housed in a former Augustinian monastery with Gothic architecture (currently closed for renovation – partial reopening this fall). The Romanesque capitals, the gargoyles, the medicinal plants in the vegetable garden will seduce you.

The Musée Les Abattoirs (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) is housed in a former slaughterhouse. A precious photographic gallery is located in the water tower (one of the oldest in France).

However, if you prefer off-the-beaten-track tours, there is also a range of options. I have found one that I think is quite charming and which is called“Petit tour dans les cour” (Short tour in the courtyards), because the historic center is made up of hundreds of consumers mansions.

A more or less hidden courtyard, an unexpected courtyard, a courtyard that is no longer, cloistered courtyards, a water course, a courtyard full stop. By now, you probably understand that you are following a route in the city on the theme of the court!

les augustins © arnaud späni

Toulouse: roots and wings

The Space City

Although Toulouse has a long history that has enabled it to put down roots, it has also been able to spread its wings towards the future by becoming the European Capital of Space.

The Cité de l’espace (Space City) megaplex is located 7 kilometres southwest of downtown (easily accessible by bus). It is unique in terms of disseminating space and astronomical culture to the general public. Just imagine:

  • immersive and interactive exhibitions including rare Moon and Mars stones, life-size spaceships, and robot arenas (new in 2021);
  • sky observations through a telescope at the Astronomer’s Dome to admire the celestial beauties;
  • science gardens;
  • thematic meetings in the form of summer nights in July and August, cultural events around the Night of the Stars, Researchers’ Night, the Alpha Mission or even Martian robots…);
  • conferences;
  • two planetariums;
  • an IMAX theatre.
cité de l-espace © arnaud späni
Cite de l'espace © Arnaud Spani

For a few months now, the “Cité des petits” inside the megaplex has been open to children aged 4-8 years. It captures their interest with adapted animations and activities on themes of great interest to this age group: rockets and astronauts.

The Giant's Trail

Then, located in the Aerospace Valley, 15 minutes south of the city centre, La piste des Géants (The Giants’ Trail) offers a retrospective of Toulouse’s aeronautical history from where the pioneers of civil aviation took off.

They include the pilot, poet and well-known writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote The Little Prince, among other works. The man tragically died at the age of 44 in flight off Marseille.

exposition antoine de saint exupéry, un petit prince parmi les hommes
Exposition Antoine de Saint Exupery, un petit prince parmi les Hommes - © Chloé Sabatier - Agence d'attractivité Toulouse
exposition antoine de saint exupéry, un petit prince parmi les hommes © chloé sabatier – agence d-attractivité toulouse
Exposition Antoine de Saint Exupery Un petit prince parmi les hommes © Chloe Sabatier Agence d'Attractivite Toulouse
exposition antoine de saint exupéry, un petit prince parmi les hommes- © collection musée air france
Exposition Antoine de Saint Exupery Un petit prince parmi les hommes © Collection Musee Air France
l-envol des pionniers © arnaud späni
L'Envol des Pionniers © Arnaud Spani
la halle de la machine © arnaud späni
La Halle de la Machine © Arnaud Spani

Located along the old Aéropostale flight path, this space features eight countries (Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile) once crossed by the Aéropostale line.

These gardens, which cover two hectares, offer children’s games, rest areas, discovery panels and plant species from the eight countries they cross.

A visit to the Aeroscopia Museum

Finally, about twenty minutes north-west of the city centre, the Aeroscopia Museum has everything to satisfy the simply curious to the inveterate avgeek with an enriched offer for families.

  • There are five “discovery islands” such as the “aeronautical professions” (who wants to learn how to assemble an aircraft?) or the one on the projection towards the future.
  • A set of aircraft models, some at man’s height.
  • A collection of photographs and a historical fresco
  • Flight simulators. Really?
  • Nearly thirty aircraft with legendary planes. Who doesn’t want to climb aboard legendary planes like the Concorde and more recently the A380?
visite aeroscopia © arnaud späni

A credit card with no currency conversion fees

Did you know that most Canadian credit cards charge a 2.5% foreign currency conversion fee for all foreign transactions? But not the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® which is one of the best credit cards in Canada for travelers!

With this card, you will not pay any conversion fees and you will get:

  • 6 points per dollar for your travel purchases
  • 3 points per dollar for your other purchases
  • $100 travel credit each year
  • insurance for your travels and purchases

Festivals

Finally, the summer will live to the rhythm of festivals, from Rio Logo with its special “Africa Season” program from June 13 to 20, with presentations by Les Instantanés that will liven up the parks and gardens in July and August in the evening, with dance, music and theatre in intimate sessions.

A new one this year to discover: L’Essentiel Festival which will take place from the 8th to the 10th of July at the MEETT, Toulouse’s exhibition centre, with a musical programme.

Good plans for the summer

The Tourism Pass, which can be valid from 24 to 72 hours and is available at discounted prices, is ideal for taking advantage of the city’s tourist offer this summer (1st of July to 19th of September 2021).

The city can be discovered mainly on foot. The pass also includes public transport (metro, tram, bus) which efficiently serves the major points of the city.

Take advantage of it during your visit!

Conclusion

It’s so fun to be preparing for a trip. Toulouse, the pastel-coloured city, rich in history, is ready to be discovered thanks to a hundred or so guided tours of all kinds. Toulouse, criss-crossed by canals lined with plane trees and embellished with parks that inspire relaxation, is truly inviting.

Anchored in both the present and the future with its expertise in aeronautics, its complete touristic offer invites us to come and discover this city. And, I haven’t mentioned it yet, but you know, there’s the Toulouse sausage in cassoulet or BBQ and the Fénétra cake made of almonds, lemons and apricots. On my way!

For more information, visit the Toulouse Tourist Office website.

street art à toulouse © arnaud späni
Street art à Toulouse © Arnaud Spani

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