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Toulouse is the capital city of the southwestern French department of Haute-Garonne, as well as of the Occitanie region. It lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean, and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France with more than 450,000 inhabitants. Moreover, with 1,250,251 inhabitants at the January 2011 census, the Toulouse metropolitan area is also the fourth-largest in France, after Paris(12.3 million), Lyon (2.2 million) and Marseille(1.7 million).
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, the Airbus Group (former EADS), ATR and the Aerospace Valley.
The city also hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNES's Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, and Astrium Satellites, Airbus Group's satellite system subsidiary, also have a significant presence in Toulouse. Its world-renowned university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 103,000 students, is the fourth-largest university campus of France after Paris, Lyon and Lille.
The air route between Toulouse Blagnac and Paris Orly is the busiest in Europe, transporting 2.4 million passengers in 2014. According to the rankings of L'Express and Challenges, Toulouse is the most dynamic French city.
The city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the late Middle Ages and early modern period (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution), making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the largest region in metropolitan France.
A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose ("the Pink City"), Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Canal du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
|POPULATION :||• Population (Jan. 2012) 461,190
• Urban (Jan. 2011) 892,115
• Metro (Jan. 2011) 1,250,251
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||• Area 118.3 km2 (45.7 sq mi)
• Urban (2010) 811.60 km2 (313.36 sq mi)
• Metro (2010) 5,381.49 km2 (2,077.80 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||43°36′16″N 1°26′38″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.4%
• Female: 51.6%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
The Capitole de Toulouse (mainly 18th century), houses the Hôtel de Ville, the Théâtre du Capitole(opera house), and the Donjon du Capitole (16th century). It is located on the Place du Capitole. Cité de l'espace (City of Space) is a theme park of space exploration. The Médiathèque José Cabanis is a library. The Jardin des Plantes is a botanical garden. The most significant hôtel particulier (palace) in Toulouse is the Hôtel d'Assézat.
The Bazacle is a ford across the Garonne, built in the late 12th century and also used for hydroelectricty. The river is crossed by the Pont Neuf from the 16th century.
Toulouse Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toulouse. Saint-Sernin Basilica, part of the Way of Saint James UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largestRomanesque church in Europe. It contains what is widely considered to be the most beautifulpipe organ in France. The Daurade basilica, of the 18th–19th century, was founded as a temple to the Roman god Apollo before conversion to Christianity in 410 AD. The Church of the Jacobins, (French: Ensemble conventuel des Jacobins) in Toulouse is the burial place ofSaint Thomas Aquinas.
The Garonne Valley was a focal point for trade between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic since at least the Iron Age. The historical name of the city, Tolosa(Τώλοσσα in Greek, and of its inhabitants, the Tolosates, first recorded in the 2nd century BC), it is of unknown meaning or origin, possibly from Aquitanian, or from Iberian, but has also been connected to the name of the Gaulish Volcae Tectosages.
Tolosa enters the historical period in the 2nd century BC, when it became a Roman military outpost. After the conquest of Gaul, it was developed as a Roman city of Gallia Narbonensis. In the 5th century, Tolosa fell to the Visigothic kingdom and became one of its major cities, in the early 6th century even serving as its capital, before it fell to the Franks under Clovis in 507 (Battle of Vouillé). From this time, Toulouse was the capital of Aquitaine within the Frankish realm.
In 721, Duke Odo of Aquitaine defeated an invading Umayyad Muslim army at the Battle of Toulouse. Odo's victory was a small obstacle to Muslim expansion into Christian Europe, and Muslims finally occupied a large territory including Poitiers. Charles Martel, a decade later, won the renowned Battle of Tours, also called the Battle of Poitiers.
The Frankish conquest of Septimania followed in the 750s, and a quasi-independent County of Toulouse emerged within the Carolingian sub-kingdom of Aquitaine by the late 8th century. The Battle of Toulouse of 844, pitting Charles the Bald against Pepin II of Aquitaine, was key in the Carolingian Civil War.
County of Toulouse
During the Carolingian era, the town rose in status, becoming the capital of the County of Toulouse.
In the 12th century, consuls took over the running of the town and these proved to be difficult years. In particular, it was a time of religious turmoil. In Toulouse, the Cathars tried to set up a community here, but were routed by Simon de Montfort's troops. The subsequent arrival of the Inquisition led to a period of religious fervour during which time the Dominican Couvent des Jacobins was founded. Governed by Raimond II and a group of city nobles, Toulouse's urban boundaries stretched beyond its walls to the north and as far south as Saint Michel.
In the Treaty of Paris of 1229, Toulouse formally submitted to the crown of France. The county's sole heiress Joan was engaged to Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, a younger brother of Louis IX of France. The marriage became legal in 1241, but it remained childless so that after Joan's death the county fell to the crown of France by inheritance. Also in 1229, University of Toulouse was established after the Parisian model, intended as a means to dissolve the heretic movement.
Various monastic orders, like the congregation of the order of frères prêcheurs, were started. They found home in Les Jacobins. In parallel, a long period of inquisition began inside the Toulouse walls. The fear of repression obliged the notabilities to exile, or to convert themselves. The inquisition lasted nearly 400 years, making Toulouse its capital. Count Raimond VII was convicted of heresy and died in 1249 without an heir.
Within the Kingdom of France
In 1271, Toulouse was incorporated into the kingdom of France and declared a "royal city". With this accolade, it started to transform itself into an intellectual and artistic centre. In 1323 the Consistori del Gay Saber was established in Toulouse to preserve the lyric art of the troubadours. Toulouse became the centre of Occitan literary culture for the next hundred years; the Consistori was last active in 1484.
But the 14th century was to mark a downturn in the city's fortunes. First came a pogrom against Toulouse's Jewish population by Crusaders in 1320, then, in 1348, the Black Death, then the Hundred Years' War. Famine and floods also took their toll on the city. Despite strong immigration, the population lost 10,000 inhabitants in 70 years. By 1405 Toulouse had only 19,000 people.
It was not until the 15th century that Toulouse started to prosper. Reinforcing its place as an administrative center, the city grew richer, participating in the trade of Bordeaux wine with England, as well as cereals and textiles. A parliament was set up by Charles VII and the city's merchants grew ever wealthier. Their economic well-being was mostly based on a plant-based blue dye known as pastel, made from woad, which they exported throughout Europe. These pastel merchants built grand town houses and, before long, both architecture and the fine arts flourished in the city as never before.
The bubble finally burst in the mid-16th century. Another blue dye arrived from India, known as indigo. It wiped out the pastel trade in one fell swoop. Religious conflict broke out between the Catholics and the Protestant Calvinists. At the same time, buildings were destroyed by fire and there were yet more outbreaks of famine and plague.
In 1761, a Toulouse merchant, Jean Calas, was accused of murdering his own son to prevent his conversion to Catholicism. Calas was put to death a year later. Toulouse's persecution of Protestants such as Calas was widely condemned and religious intolerance did gradually disappear.
During the remainder of the 18th century, the city was slowly modernised. This included a period of urban rebuilding, which began in earnest from 1750. New projects included the building of the Jardin Royal. The Grand Rond also dates to this period, along with the Canal de Brienne and the Quai Dillon.
Within the French Republic
The Battle of Toulouse (1814) was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars, four days after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the nations of the Sixth Coalition. Toulouse, the regional capital, proved stoutly defended by Marshal Soult.
In 1856, the Matabiau Station was opened, launching a new age in transportation. Other transport improvements included the widening of streets to form more spacious boulevards. Gradually, Toulouse emerged as a modern French city.
During the early decades of the 20th century, Toulouse witnessed the mass arrival of immigrants from northern France, Italy and Spain. New industries were developed in the city, including aircraft and chemical manufacturing. The French airmail service was set up here as well. During the Second World War, Toulouse played a vital role in the Resistance movement.
In the 1960s, a new wave of immigrants arrived in the city, this time from Algeria. New homes were built and the city's boundaries were extended. Toulouse's industry interests have more recently expanded to include space exploration and electronics. Today, it is France's fourth-largest city.
Toulouse has a humid subtropical climate . Though the city lies near the Mediterranean climate zone, its uniform precipitation maintains its Cfaclassification.
Climate data for Toulouse
|Record high °C (°F)||21.2
|Average high °C (°F)||9.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.9
|Average low °C (°F)||2.4
|Record low °C (°F)||−17.0
|Source #1: Météo France|
|Source #2: Infoclimat.fr|
The main industries are aeronautics, space, electronics, information technology and biotechnology. Toulouse hosts the Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines of Airbus A320, A330,A350 and A380. (A320 lines also exist in Hamburg, Germany, Tianjin, China, and Mobile, Alabama, USA.) Airbus has its head office inBlagnac, near Toulouse. Airbus's France division has its main office in Toulouse. Toulouse also hosts the headquarters of ATR, Sigfox and Groupe Latécoère.
Prices in Toulouse
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.70|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.30|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€30.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€4.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€4.20|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€15.50|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.17|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€2.25|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€75.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€30.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€76.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.60|
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- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
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- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
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.
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:
- Paris: 5 hours 30 minutes (by TGV), 6 hours 30 minutes (intercity), 8 hours (night train)
- Lyon: 4 hours (by TGV)
- Barcelona: 3 hours 20 minutes (by AVE)
- Bordeaux: 2 hours
- Marseille: 4 hours
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 [www].
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.
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. [www]
Major highways towards Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Barcelona.
Transportation - Get Around
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:
- Tisseo (French only)
Page with the network map, and specific maps and schedules for all the bus and metro lines: [www] 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.
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.
- BEST RATED -
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Opening hours in Toulouse are generally Mon-Sat 9AM-1PM and 3PM-7PM, but there are numerous exceptions.
- As Toulouse is a city of aviation and spaceflight, check Airbus and the Cité de l'Espace for souvenirs
- There's a flea market every Saturday morning in just outside of the Basilique Saint Sernin. While it does not offer anything too special as flea markets go it's a great way to mingle with a local crowd. Another flea market is held every first weekend of the month at the Allées François Verdier, at the Grand Rond.
- The Marché Saint Aubin is a farmer's market surrounding the Saint Aubin basilica every Sunday morning, selling local vegetables and fruits. The atmosphere is very relaxed and there is often live music and dancing.
- Every weekday morning, the Boulevard de Strasbourg hosts the city's most affordable vegetable and fruit market.
- There are excellent second hand clothing shops or "friperies", especially on Rue Gambetta and in the whole district behind the 'Ecole des Beaux Arts', around the 'place de la Bourse' which is the historical textile production quarter of Toulouse
- If you are on a budget, the supermarkets where most students use to go are the brands 'Lidl' and 'Leader Price'. Those are to be found more on the 'edges' of the city (though some are accessible with the underground). In the centre, go for Champion or Géant Casino.
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
- Délicatessen, 11 Rue Riquet (Metro François-Verdier), .Mon-Fri 4pm–2am, Sat 6pm–3am, Sun 11am–4:30pm, 6pm–2am. Busy tapas bar with friendly atmosphere that offers meals, a good selection of beers on tap and a real happy hour; tapas here are tasty, cheap and generous (choose 5 for €16.50 - March 2012). It's a popular place so it's better to get there a little earlier in the evening.
- restaurants at Victor Hugo market (Marché couvert Victor Hugo), Place Victor Hugo, . Market open Tue-Sat, from dawn to 1pm. Restaurants take orders at least until 2:30pm. During lunch time go to the first floor of the market (that would be second floor for the Americans - in short, the one above the market stalls), you'll find 5 good restaurants at a reasonable price. Market atmosphere, and better be patient to wait for seats as no reservations are possible, but it is worth it if you want to feel a typical local atmosphere.
Sights & Landmarks
Toulouse has a small center, and you can reach most interesting places in the downtown area comfortably on foot.
- Basilique Saint Sernin - a church from the 11th Century, partly restored by the famous French architect Viollet-le-Duc.
- Notre-Dame de La Daurade - a basilica dating from the 5th century, overlooking the Garonne river
- Cathédrale Saint Etienne - a Roman Catholic cathedral dating from the 11th century, now the seat of the Archbishop of Toulouse.
- Hôtel d'Assézat - one of the most appealing of the many old mansions of the city
- Capitole - the imposing and palatial building in the center of the city houses both the city hall and city theater, its beautiful façade facing onto the grand Place du Capitole
- Pont-Neuf - despite its name (like the Parisian bridge of the same name, its title is most probably derived from the French for 'New', not 'Nine'.), the only old bridge across the Garonne river; built between 1544 and 1626
- Les Jacobins monastery church, contains Thomas Aquinas' relics.
- Canal du Midi. The Canal du Midi or Canal des Deux Mers is a 240 km long canal in the south of France, le Midi. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. The Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Museums & Galleries
- Jardin des Plantes, a public park and botanical gardens on the south-east side of the city center. The park includes a Natural History Museum.
- Les Augustins Used to be a monastery church, and is today an art museum
- Les Abattoirs Modern Arts museum, and there is also a nice garden with a nice view on the Garonne
- Georges Labit Museum Asian arts and Egyptian antiquities museum in an exotic and Mediterranean garden built in 1893, 17 rue du Japon
- Airbus Visit. Airbus offers tours of their facilities; the tour takes about 60 minutes and includes a guide who will tell you some background about the company; the screening of a promotional / historical video, and a look at the A380 production line. Photography is strictly forbidden, and you need to bring a piece of photo identification. Book ahead. Those who have done the tour before 2006 should note that tours now set off from a new purpose-built structure shaped like a cross-section of the A380. The building can be difficult to find so check the website in advance.
- Cité de l'Espace (Space City) (By bus: take bus route no. 37 from the Jolimont metro station going to La Plaine, ask for the Cité de l'espace bus stop.). Another of Toulouse's "aviation" attractions. However you must be aware that it is not exactly a museum but a sort of scientific theme park without rides. There are some replicas of spacecraft and other exhibits, many of the latter interactive in some minor way. There's also a small planetarium. The park is suited well to 5-14 year old children, everybody else should probably spare themselves the trip. It's situated fairly far outside the city but there's a bus service starting outside the Jolimont metro station. Adults : €18.5, children: €12.
Things to do
- Take a walk through the city and along the Canal du Midi
- Have a walk along the Garonne riverfrom St Pierre bridge and Pont-neuf during the evening.
- Party at St Pierre Place: very popular among Toulouse's students
- Rent a bike from Tisseo 'Velibe stations' for €1 per day which can be found throughout the city centre. The 'velibe' works like a bike taxi, with the first 30 minutes at no extra charge, but if you go over the 30 minutes you pay extra. You can use the bikes as many times as you like throughout your '1 euro day' fee.
- See a Rugby Match. If you are fortunate enough to be in Toulouse on match day, follow the crowds and the excitement to the stadium and soak up the atmosphere while watching of one of Europe's top Rugby Union teams Stade Toulousain. If you prefer league, then Toulouse's very own Toulouse Olympique plays in both the Co-operative Championship and the Challenge Cup. The matches are very family friendly and the atmosphere is electric!
The Toulouse Alternative Arts Scene
Websites are in French
- Toulouse is one of the most alternative French cities - maybe due to its huge student population and its historical past with half a million Spanish republicans who settled in the region after they lost the Spanish Civil War and escaped through the Pyrenees during the 'Retirada' in 1939. So even though the city is trying to get rid of them, it still offers a large number of squats, some of them hosting artistic movements.
- MixArt Myrys is one of the oldest and most active squat of artists within the city.
- La Dynamo. Is a club located in a former sex club and a great place to see live bands and other performances - ça bouge! Located in the city centre at 6 rue Amélie (Metro Jean Jaurès).
- Les Motivées is an association that is very active on the political and social scene in Toulouse, and that organises or takes part in many free events, strikes, concerts, etc. throughout the year. They founded a political party a few years ago that is pretty active locally and holds a few positions with the City Hall Council. Check also the Tactikollectif their fellow co-working association on events like festivals, etc. that has its origin in the Northern quarters of Toulouse, which are the ones with social housing and lower quality of life.
- La Grainerie. Is more particularly dedicated to circus and was first created and settled on derelict brown land; it hosts various collectives of artists every year.
- L'Usine. Another residence for artists and collectives, located in the suburb of Tournefeuille, 12 km from the city centre of Toulouse.
- le Collectif d'Urgence Acteurs Culturels - Emergency Collective for Cultural Actors defends the local associative and alternative cultural world, whereas the Toulouse Réseau Unitaire Citoyen - Civil Unitarian Network of Toulouse aims at stirring local, social and political debates.
Safety in Toulouse