Visiting Toulouse: What are the essentials to see and do during your stay in the Pink City?
Located in the southwest of France, Toulouse is a must-visit destination that should be enjoyed without moderation. With its pastel colors, violets, cassoulet, and melodious accent, the people of Toulouse have much to charm visitors. Boasting a rich historical heritage and magnificent monuments, the famous “Pink City” ranks among the most beautiful cities in the country.
Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and with nearly 500,000 inhabitants, Toulouse is the fourth-largest city in France. As the birthplace of aviation and space exploration, it is ranked among the most advanced technopoles in terms of research. With numerous private mansions, ancient buildings, museums, and monuments, Toulouse is also a city that welcomes many students and tourists each year. Visiting Toulouse also means discovering the city that was the queen of pastel, nicknamed “the gold of the 15th century.”
Before setting off to explore beautiful Toulouse, take a look at the tourism pass, your best ally for thoroughly visiting the Pink City! And for those seeking authenticity, why not opt for a walking tour accompanied by a local? It’s a moment of sharing and discovery that’s as local as it gets!
Your suitcase is now ready, so what to do in Toulouse? Whether you’re just passing through or staying for a few days, here are 10 must-do activities during your getaway. Let’s go!
1. Place du Capitole
An emblematic spot of the Pink City, Place du Capitole is a must-visit during your trip to Toulouse. Entirely pedestrianized, this square, marked by its immense Occitan cross, is surrounded by beautiful buildings made of pink bricks, symbols of the city. The square also hosts the city hall and the theater, housed under the famous Capitole. You’ll also see Toulouse’s grandest hotels here.
2. Basilica of Saint-Sernin
Visiting Toulouse also means not missing the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of the largest Romanesque buildings in France. Named after the first bishop of Toulouse, inside you’ll discover beautiful paintings and have the opportunity to approach the sarcophagus of Bishop Saint-Saturnin.
3. Cité de l’Espace
What to do in Toulouse with children? Spend a day at the Cité de l’Espace. Located 20 minutes by car from Toulouse and open year-round, the Cité offers visitors a total immersion in space: exhibitions, planetarium, workshops, conferences… A multitude of activities await for a cosmic journey!
Best Activity Offers
4. Quays of the Garonne
Another must-do in Toulouse: a stroll along the Garonne. From the quays, you can admire the most beautiful views of Toulouse. Don’t miss the Pont Neuf or the Dome de la Grave. In summer, both during the week and on weekends, the quays are very popular with the people of Toulouse, and for good reason: from the Prairie des Filtres (which hosts Toulouse beach) to the Daurade, it’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day and the ideal spot for a drink with friends…
5. Gardens of Toulouse
What to do in Toulouse during the summer? Visit the gardens. Between the Jardin des Plantes, the Jardin Royal, and the Japanese Garden, lovers of flowers and nature will be in heaven. True green lungs in the city center, the green spaces are highly renowned in Toulouse: in total, there are more than 160,000 trees in the city’s gardens.
6. The Canal du Midi
Visiting Toulouse without seeing the Canal du Midi is unthinkable. A symbol of the city, the Canal du Midi is a must-see during your stay. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it can be explored on a cruise barge or with a private boat rental, where you can even spend the night. You can also enjoy a walk along the Canal’s banks: from the city center to the outskirts, walkers and joggers love to meet here.
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7. La Maison de la Violette
Still on the Canal du Midi, La Maison de la Violette invites you to board a barge entirely dedicated to violets! Open all year round, it’s the perfect place to learn everything about the city’s sweet symbol. Exhibitions, cooking workshops, gardening, and a souvenir shop await you for a cultural and gourmet experience.
8. The View from the Rooftop of Galeries Lafayette
Meet at sunset for an aperitif at the bar-restaurant “Ma Biche sur le Toit,” on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette. In recent months, it’s become THE new favorite spot for Toulousains, closely followed by the recently opened Mama Shelter. Ma Biche sur le Toit is a story of friends, but also of Michel Sarran, and above all, it offers the most beautiful view of Toulouse! Up there, people gather to have a drink, brunch, or taste dishes from the great chef Michel Sarran (one of the project’s initiators). From breakfast to lunch, tea time, aperitif, and dinner, Ma Biche sur le Toit offers a complete urban experience.
9. Le Marché des Carmes and Victor Hugo’s Nocturnes
Visiting Toulouse also means tasting the city’s specialties, enjoying quality regional products, and especially, local ones. We recommend going to the Marché des Carmes to wander among the various stalls that literally make your mouth water! From the baker to the greengrocer, the butcher, and the fishmonger, the 50 exhibitors welcome you from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive.
For those who love to combine good times and gourmet food, head to the Victor Hugo market located on the eponymous square! Every Thursday, the market transforms into a favorite place for Toulousains with the famous “Nocturne.” Until late at night, the market and the restaurants upstairs offer to prolong the enjoyment! On the agenda, large plates of fresh products accompanied by a glass, all set to the rhythm of music bands.
Best Activity Offer :
Toulouse: Victor Hugo Market Guided Food Tour with Tastings
Toulouse is famous for its violets, but it’s often forgotten that it’s also the cradle of pastel. A traditional plant known for its medicinal and dermatological qualities, pastel was long considered the pride of the region. During your visit to Toulouse, you’ll see many small shops dedicated to it, a true blue paradise.
Original activity idea to do in Toulouse
Here, the idea is simple: take advantage of your stay in Toulouse to participate in this workshop dedicated to viennoiseries. Alongside Muriel, you’ll discover, over 3 hours, the secrets of making a variety of viennoiseries, including, of course, croissants, and especially pains au chocolat, or rather “chocolatines,” as they say in Toulouse.
Moreover, the artisan pastry chef might reveal one of her secret recipes, depending on her mood of the day. Finally, you’ll leave with about ten viennoiseries under your arm, to share with your loved ones. What could be better than enjoying delicious pains au chocolat in the streets of Toulouse?
We have selected for you the best activity : Make your own pastries with Muriel, an authentic artisan baker
How to Get to Toulouse?
To get to Toulouse, you can choose between flying, taking the train, or driving. Consider carpooling as well to save on transportation costs.
By plane, it takes about 1 hour non-stop to reach Toulouse airport from Paris-Orly. Other direct flights are available from Lyon Saint-Exupéry and Strasbourg. You can find a cheap flight on our partner’s website, Skyscanner. Upon arrival in Toulouse, you can benefit from a private transfer or a shuttle from the airport to your chosen destination.
As for the train, you will reach the Toulouse city center station in just over 3 hours from Paris.
If you decide to travel by car, be aware that it’s not so easy to find a parking spot. Even though many hotels often have parking facilities, some charge for parking both day and night.
Where to Stay in Toulouse?
There’s a wide range of accommodation options in Toulouse! Opt for places where you can move around on foot or neighborhoods with public transport, as this will make your life easier during your stay. The hyper-center is the most popular area for tourists, from Esquirol to Jean Jaurès, including the Capitole and the famous Place Saint-Pierre. Young people love it for going out at night. Those seeking tranquility will prefer to stay in the Carmes district, one of the most beautiful in the city. Finally, nature lovers might choose the Saint-Michel area. Toulouse offers a wide range of hotels and apartment rentals, and you can find a cheap hotel by searching on a hotel comparison site like Booking.com.