Top things to do in Toulouse

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City of Toulouse ©myurbanr.com

Nicknamed the “pink city” because of the terracotta bricks that adorn and color of multiple pink shades the facades of the city, the capital of aeronautics has a rich historical heritage (the Hôtel Dieu or the Capitol for example). If you visit Toulouse, you will disover sumptuous monuments and museums to visit. There are several ways to discover the city. You can indeed enjoy a walk in the city center, go on a boat cruise along the Garonne river or have a ride along the Canal du Midi. With family or friends, Toulouse is full of things to do that will please the greatest number. The visit of the Airbus factories and the Aéroscopia museum in Blagnac will delight aeronautics enthusiasts while the many parks and gardens of the city will allow you to enjoy the beautiful sunny days around a picnic.

Land of gastronomy, the South-West region is also known for its famous wine appellations: Gaillac, Fronton, Cahors, Jurançon, Bergerac, Monbazillac… To discover the specificities of the vineyard near Toulouse, you can go and meet the winemakers of the region, the first winery being accessible in just 30 minutes by car.

If you’re looking what to see in Toulouse, discover below our advices and suggestions to discover the best places to visit

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Toulouse city map

CAPITOLE SQUARE

Emblem of the city, this huge and beautiful square, for pedestrians only, is located in the historic center of Toulouse. It is dominated by the Capitol, which houses the city hall and a theater. Upstairs, you will discover the “salle des Illustres” whose paintings retrace the history of the city.

The Capitole © Wikipédia.org

SAINT-SERNIN BASILICA

Another symbol of Toulouse located a few steps away from the Capitole square, the Saint Sernin basilica, built between the 11th and the 13th centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has welcomed pilgrims for centuries along the route of Santiago de Compostela. Real masterpiece, it is the largest Romanesque church in France. Inside, you will discover a nave of 21 meters high and crypts where remains the relics of Saint-Saturnin, martyr of the 3rd century from which the basilica is named.

Saint-Sernin Basilica ©reddit.com

JACOBINS CONVENT

Entirely built with pink bricks, this jewel of medieval art is one of Toulouse’s must-see historical monuments. Inside the convent you will discover a particular church that has the particularity of having a palm-shaped vault and which houses the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas. We advise you to visit also the cloister of the convent, offering a peaceful and intimate place. In summer, deckchairs are settled to enjoy the calm and beauty of the area. You will also be able to discover the old refectory, the chapel of the Virgin, the chapel Saint-Antonin and the chapter house. Family tours are available.

The Cloister of the Jacobin Convent ©voyagetips.com

THE OLD TOWN

After your visit to at the Jacobins convent, we advise you to walk in the heart of the old town from the Capitol Square to Esquirol square. This fully pedestrianized city center is full of shops and restaurants. Right next to Esquirol square, the Carmes district offers narrow curving streets and orange facades. At the time of the Middle Ages it was the popular district of Toulouse as testify the names of the streets: Cutler street, Merchants street, Filatiers street… Filatiers street will lead you to the famous Carmes market where 50 exhibitors will welcome you under bright boxes where you can buy fruits and vegetables, meats and delicatessen, breads and pastries…

Carmes district, Toulouse ©toulouse tourisme

Then, continue to the Augustins museum, also known as the “Fine-Arts museum”. You will discover a collection of paintings from the 14th to the 19th century as well as many sculptures from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Located in the former Augustins monastery, classified as a historic monument and open since the Revolution, it is one of the oldest museums in France. Its architecture is typical of Toulouse and the cloister of the convent serving the permanent and temporary exhibition halls is a real invitation to stroll.

Augustins museum during the 14th edition of the European Nights of Museum ©P.Nin

At 5 minutes’ walk from the Augustins museum, do not miss to discover the Saint-Etienne Cathedral and its surrounding district bearing its name. Adjoining the old episcopal palace where the prefecture is settled today, it has a very particular architecture. Having undergone three different building phases over the centuries, it offers a mix of several different styles. The interior offers for example a Romanesque part and a Gothic part.

Cathédral and Saint-Etienne square ©immobiliare-neuf.fr

Then have a stroll through this beautiful neighborhood still adorned with magnificent facades with multiple shades of pink. Do not miss the Croix Baragnon street which is full of magnificent shops. Then head towards 3 gardens located side by side: the Grand Rond Garden, the Jardin des Plantes and the Jardin Royal which houses rare specimens of trees such as the hackberry, the Ginkgo Biloba, the Tulip tree of Virginia, the Osage orange tree…

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Jardin des Plantes ©Toulouse tourisme

ST CYPRIEN DISTRICT

Then, walk towards the Prairie des Filtres located in the Saint-Cyprien district. Place for picnic and culture, it is one of the busiest gardens in the city. Located on the edge of the Garonne, it offers a magnificent view on the Pont Neuf.

View on the prairie des filtres and on the pont neuf ©Toulouse tourisme

For all modern and contemporary art lovers, the Abattoirs museum, located at 10 minutes’ walk from the Prairie des Filtres, has a huge area of 3000m2 where you will discover during temporary and permanent exhibitions a rich collection of works (about 4000) dating mainly from the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

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Abattoirs Museum ©photorendu.com

THE EDGES OF THE GARONNE RIVER

Then head towards Saint Peter’s Square via the Saint-Pierre bridge where you will have one of the most beautiful panoramas of the city with a view on the Pont Neuf, the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques, the dome of the Saint Joseph de la Grave Chapel and the Garonne river. The Pont Neuf is since the 18th century, the historic link between the Saint-Cyprien district and the city. You will arrive on the pretty Saint-Pierre square where you can have a drink on the terrace or continue walking along the banks of the Garonne.

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View on the Pont Neuf and on the Hôtel Dieu from the Saint-Peter bridge ©mygreenstartup.com

CANAL DE BRIENNE AND CANAL DU MIDI

Along the Brienne canal, a shady walk of about 1.5 km surrounded by bicentennial plane trees awaits you and takes you to the 17th century at the time of the golden age of river transport. This canal was built to make the city center accessible by water and connects the quays of the center of the Garonne river to the port de l’Embouchure which is an important meeting point between the Garonne river and the Canal du Midi.

The Canal du Midi, designed by Vauban and Pierre Paul Riquet under the reign of Louis 14 connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can opt for a boat cruise or a stroll. For cycling enthusiasts, a walking and cycling path is built up to the city of Carcassonne.

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Canal du Midi ©pinterest.com

CITÉ DE L’ESPACE

At 20 minutes’ drive from the city center, the Cité de l’Espace brings you aboard the space conquest through 2500m2 of interactive exhibitions. Board the MIR station, watch the Ariane 5 rocket, discover the life of the astronauts through a lunar walk simulator, put on a diving suit… The Cité de l’Espace also houses a garden of 5 hectares where you can admire real spacecrafts.

Cité de l’Espace ©10micron.eu

AIRBUS PLANTS AND AÉROSCOPIA MUSEUM

At just 25 minutes from the city center, embark on a unique world tour on the Airbus site with factory tours. 4 thematic tours of 1h30 are available. Discover the secrets of the A380, develop your knowledge of military aviation, go for a tour of the site focused on sustainable development, discover the A350XWB through its final assembly line…

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Let’s visit Airbus tour ©Airbus S.A.S 2016 – photo by A.Doumenjou/master film

You can also combine this visit with the Aéroscopia museum accessible from Toulouse by the Tramway and located right next to the Airbus plants. You will discover about twenty legendary planes such as the Caravelle, the Super Guppy, the A300B… and will be able to enter the Concorde cockpit. This museum, with an area of 7000m2, offers many activities including a flight simulator, interactive spaces and a 58m long mural frescoe depicting the history of aeronautics.

Aéroscopia Museum, Blagnac ©culturebox.francetvinfo.fr

SURROUNDING VINEYARD

Region housing a thousand of flavors, the Southwest offers green hills and steep slopes at the foot of the mountains. The vineyard benefits from a moderate climate similar to the one of Bordeaux which becomes relatively marked in the summer with a strong exposure to the sun in the more central part and which makes it possible to obtain different grape varieties such as the famous Malbec in Cahors.

If you are visiting Toulouse, we advise you to also discover the wines of the South West and local producers where you can learn more about the specificities of the region grape varieties.

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Wineries close to Toulouse

At Only 35 minutes from the center of Toulouse by car, in the direction of the city of Montauban, Le Roc family-owned winery will help you discovering the Fronton appellation through a tour of the winery and will give you explanations on the vineyard followed by a tasting of several wines. The team is very welcoming and always punctuates his explanations with a touch of humor.

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Domaine le Roc, Fronton

At 15 minutes from Le Roc winery, to discover again the Fronton appellation, you can visit another family-owned winery that has been growing its vines since 2008 in organic farming. In summer, you can enjoy a gourmet break in the vineyards with a picnic basket accompanied by a bottle of wine from the winery.

Château Boujac, Campsas

At 1 hour from Toulouse, towards Albi, do not miss to visit the magnificent Lastours Castle located in the heart of the Gaillac Appellation. A warm welcome and a friendly tasting await you. You can walk in the French gardens and the avenue of plane trees that leads to the Castle and discover the secrets of this place steeped in history.

Château Lastours, Lisle sur Tarn

30 km west of Château Lastours, the Domaine Gayrard, an 11-hectare family-owned winery, began its conversion to organic farming in 2016. The owners will be delighted to share with you their philosophy, their profession and help you discovering their winery and their wines, the latter being essentially produced in a single grape variety. Cellar visits, walks in the vineyards, picnic baskets… several visit options are available.

Domaine Gayrard, Milhavet

Further north, in the heart of the city of Cahors, the Rességuier winery welcomes you for a free tour and tasting of 1h30 to discover the Malbec grape variety. Laurent, the owner of the winery will be delighted to welcome you and will explain with pedagogy the specificities of the Malbec. It offers wines of a very good value for money.

Domaine Rességuier, Cahors

Finally, 30 minutes East of Cahors, you can finish your discovery of the PDO Cahors at Château Ponzac. You will discover different winemaking methods such as aging in stainless steel vats, terracota jars, casks or barrels. The owners of this family-owned winery will explain the influence of these different methods on their wine. You will end your visit with a commented wine tasting according to each aging method.

Château Ponzac, Carnac Rouffiac

We wish you a pleasant discovery of Toulouse and of the South-West vineyard!

Top things to do in Toulouse
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