Top French Cities - Toulouse at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Toulouse Tourist Office at

City region: Occitanie

Population & what they are called: 466,297 inhabitants (2014 census), called Toulousain

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 6 h 30 min (420 miles) via the A20 autoroute l'Occitane

  • by train: about 4 h 10 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse

  • by plane: about 1 h 20 min to the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Abdelilah Chouari, breakdancer world champion

  • Claude Nougaro, singer

  • Bernard Werber, writer

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Toulouse is nicknamed La Ville Rose (The Pink City) due to the red-brick façades seen all across town.

  • The 38 stations of Toulouse’s metro system are unique in that they all house works of contemporary art.

Notable sites:

  • Capitole – the 18th-century home of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), Théâtre du Capitole (opera house) and the Salle des Illustres (a display hall of 19th-century masterpieces by local artists)

  • Basilique Saint-Sernin – the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, containing the most beautiful pipe organ in the country

  • Couvent des Jacobins – a significant monastic building and the city's red brick jewel of Meridional Gothic architecture

Top annual events:

  • Festival Tangopostale – tango and Argentinian culture take over the city with performances, concerts, workshops and numerous cultural events (

  • Rio Loco – a lively open-air festival combining world music, visual arts, cinema and international cuisine (

  • Siestes Electroniques – free festival of electronic music in an open-air garden (

Most notable museums:

  • Cité de l'Espace – a unique museum and park centered around space exploration (

  • Musée des Augustins (Musée des Beaux-Arts) – France's second oldest museum, with a large collection of European paintings (

  • Les Abattoirs (Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain) – a modern art museum built into the area's old slaughterhouse (

Culinary specialties:

  • saucisse de Toulouse – a special sausage composed of diced pork with no additives or preservatives

  • cassoulet toulousain – a slow-cooked stew of white haricot beans, duck confit and saucisse de Toulouse, served in a traditional earthenware pot

  • garbure – a hearty and thick peasant soup of cabbage, pork and a mix of other ingredients

Local wines & spirits:

  • wines of the Southwest – over 300 grape varieties, 14 named geographical areas and 29 protected appellations all regrouped as “vins du Sud-Ouest,” including the Candie estate within Toulouse and the nearby Fronton vineyard

  • crème de violette – a liqueur with taste and color of violet blossoms


  • Quartier de la Daurade – the best place for vintage and second-hand shops

  • Marché Victor Hugo – the biggest covered market, with restaurants on the first floor

  • Quartier Saint-Etienne – antique shops fill the little streets of neighborhood around the Saint-Étienne Cathedral

Most popular night spots:

  • Quartier des Carmes – one of the most active and dynamic neighborhood, with a vibrant range of popular bars and tapas restaurants

  • Place Saint-Pierre – a main nightlife area with many bars full of students

  • Rue Gabriel-Peri (near Jean-Jaurès Metro) – a good cluster of nightclubs, concert halls and bars

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Canal du Midi – crowds of walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers take move along its banks every day

  • Garonne riverbank – a great place to observe the city skyline or step into a floating guinguette for a bite to eat in summer

  • Jardin des Plantes – a 200-year-old sculpture garden for people in search of nature

Local industries:

  • aerospace industry – home to one of the world’s largest aeronautics manufacturers, Airbus, as well as the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, the Aerospace Valley and more

In Pop Culture:

  • The Musketeer (D’Artagnan) – the 2001 film by Peter Hyams with Catherine Deneuve, shot in the Salle des Illustres of the Capitole

  • Lemming – the 2005 movie by Dominik Moll about love and betrayal

  • The Frozen Dead (Glacé), by Bernard Minier – a thriller novel, the first of the series involving Commandant Martin Servaz, a Toulouse city cop

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency