Toulouse, la ville rose

This is one of my favorite cities, first because on my wife’s father side they are from the region, second ,because I do lots of business here and many trip by car or TGV train, and third because my family likes the big city with a small town feel with all amenities.

Toulouse is from the Occitan language Tolosa, a language that is gaining and even street signs are with it, as well as being taught in schools nowdays again. A city in the south west of France, seat of government of the department Haute Garonne ,no 31, in the region of Midi Pyrénées.  It is a very old town but that is another blogger introduction. The city is 330 kms ( 205 miles) on the A66 from Barcelona by the tunnel of Puymorens, 700 kms from Paris ( 434 miles ) on the N20/A20, and 244 kms ( 151 miles)  from Bordeaux on the A62.  Parking is plentyful and I have used the one by the place Jeanne d’Arc, Place Victor Hugo, or the allée Jean Jaurés. The city is encircled by a beltway or peripherique just like Paris of about 33kms call road A620. The car is still very much in use here Yeah!!! it is very easy to drive ,and use extensively by the local residents. This webpage in French tells you of traffic and accidents road conditions in the city and surroundings http://www.toulouse-deplacements.com/1_accueil.php

It also has a modest metro system and bus with stations at next to the train station, the jeanne d’Arc depot, the network is call Tisseo and covers the two metro lines, the tramway, and the buses, never needed to use them and been coming here regularly for years, the webpage is at http://www.tisseo.fr/ . The family that lives on the outskirst of town and a bit further away uses the car.  By train it has an excellent train station at Matabiau right in the center just crossing the allée jean jaurés or rue Raymond VI and you are in the center in minutes 5-10.  The main regular train lines are from Paris Gare d’Austerlitz ,and the TGV from Gare Montparnasse. The network is TER midi pyrénées at http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/Midi_Pyrenees/fr/Default.aspx . You have free navettes bus going on all the time for free in city center, there is a navette that runs from airport by train station . This is Tisseo pdf file info on the navette airport at http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/Tisseo_hivAeroportweb.pdf , and this is the pdf file on the navette city center ,http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/Tisseo_hivCentreVilleweb.pdf

The airport site for Toulouse with national and international flights is here http://www.toulouse.aeroport.fr/ , and I have used the navette bus from airport, very good mode of transportation.  The airport site can be read in English above right of webpage.

There is so much to see here and walk , I sincerely think a blog post is not enough justice to this wonderful dear city. However, I will try to hit the highlights here starting with the Capitole et donjon, the Basilique St Sernin, the Cathedral St Etienne, the convent des Augustins, the Monastery of Jacobins, church Notre Dame de la Dalbade,Hôtel d’Assezat, the Place Wilson, Pont St Pierre, and others too numerous. I definitively guarantee you a good time here, its the city of Roses or the rose city, for its colorful bricks used to built the houses, etc.

You can purchase a city card to see many museums, monuments etc all in one price as well as discounts on restaurants; the info in English is here http://www.uk.toulouse-tourisme.com/sights-and-visits–toulouse-en-liberte–city-pass,e1123 . As an anecdote and something close to me it was the capital of exile for the Spaniards during the Civil War of 1936-39, with many sites of rememberances ,the city of Toulouse can give you a tour of the many places if you wish, many of them political parties rallying for democracy in Spain, this year its the 80th anniversary of such times, webpage http://www.archives.mairie-toulouse.fr/index.php?id=40&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44&cHash=5c5f0078ed

The wonderful museum d’histoire naturelle, 35 allées Jules Guesde, metro Palais de justice or carmes line B; webpage here http://www.museum.toulouse.fr/connaitre_museum_2/museum_histoire_naturelle_59/index.html?lang=fr  . The museum of les Augustins,one of the first museums done after the decree of 1792 during the French revolution, a huge amount of potraits of France and Europe, sculptures from Roman times to gothic, wonderful place, see webpage here http://www.augustins.org/dynaccueil.htm :  Musée Saint Raymond, is my favorite next to the basilica St Sernin,  it is at the old hospital Saint Raymond from the 16C, it houses objects and sculptures ,busts ,stones from antiquity ,romans to the present time; very educational of history; webpage http://www.saintraymond.toulouse.fr/ 

the ensemble Jacobins built around 1215AD, its a jewel of the Languedocien gothic art with a church and convent of Dominicans where the relics of Saint Thomas de Aquinas are revered. Today many expositions are held here following the tradition of showcasing Arts, it is located at 69, rue Pargaminières , Tél. +33  05 61 22 23 82 . webpage
http://www.jacobins.mairie-toulouse.fr/

The Hôtel d’Assézat is a wonderful mansion of the 16C at rue de Metz, it houses the seat of the Académie des Jeux Floraux, showcasing the langauge of occitan since 1323AD, with webpage  http://jeuxfloraux.fr/ ,and the Fondation Bemberg, a private museum with a permanent collection and portraits as well as bronze and objects d’arts with webpage http://www.fondation-bemberg.fr/

since 1190 AD it is here not changing place still here, the emblem of Toulouse, cannot come to the city without stopping by here, The Capitole and its donjon or tower. It looks the same since 1759 AD unchange thru times.  At its interior courtyard call the Cour Henry IV,because a statue of the king is there the only one done while he was alive, at the center a plaque tells you that it was here that his son the duke of Montmorency was beheaded.  The south wing house today the Théâtre du Capitole with webpage http://www.theatre-du-capitole.fr/  . The name of Capitole comes from the term chapter  the place wher the assembly took place, today it is the Hotel de Ville or city govt offices.   Inside, the Salle des Illustres, measures more than 70 meters long (231 ft) and takes all the along the front facade of the building.; some of the illustres or famous persons showing here are Caffarelli, Rivals, Pinel, and Riquet (canal du midi) today it hold the marriages of the city. In the upper floors you have a painting collection of Henri Martin amongst others. The Donjon or tower built in the 16C it houses the archives of precious documents of the city. In 1525 a new tower is built at the old  place de l’ancienne, and served as warehouse of the city archives until 1946.  Early in the 19C the donjon was restored by  Viollet-le-Duc that bring back the towers given it the aura of belltowers ,today it is the city tourist office, dont forget to visit it ,full of rich information.

The Basilique Saint Sernin, is the biggest church in the west, and built in the 11C due to the martyrdom of Saint Saturnin also known as Sernin in occitan. He was the first bishop of Toulouse, and the basilica is gorgeous I have no words to describe you need to see it. Many churches in the Midi and Iberian peninsula were copied from it. It is of course at Place St Sernin ,you cant missed it. Official webpage of the Basilique is at http://www.basilique-st-sernin-toulouse.fr/

The Cathédrale St Etienne or St Stephan is a gorgous church.  They have records of its construction from 844AD but officially it is done as from 1073 AD. The construction gives it a deconsentrated Cathedral extremely rich in details with its stained glass, its tapestries, and its 17 chapels. The great Rosary window that crowns the double doorway in gothic style takes the same motifs of that of  Notre Dame de Paris. A must see at again Place St Etienne.  webpage http://saint.etienne.tlse.free.fr/

Church Notre Dame de Dalbade, its construction dates back to the 6C AD, and it takes the name from the white of its chalk that revered the Virgin so the first name of it was given as Beata Marie de Ecclesia Albata (the benefactor of Mary the white clean church). The names over times gave it to be call the Dalbade in the occitan language.  The old scuptures and busts originally at the church you can see them today at the musee des Augustin see above, the church is at Rue de la Dalbade.  The Catholic diocese of Toulouse has some info in French here http://toulouse.catholique.fr/rubriques/gauche/le-diocese/les-paroisses/doyenne-du-centre-ville/paroisse-notre-dame-la-dalbade-1

The Chapelle des Carmelites, it was established in Toulouse in 1616AD and by 1622AD the first stone was laid by Anne of Austria and Louis XIII to welcome the congregation.  It was destroyed during the French revolution.except the chapel.Located at rue de Perigord it is today a place for concerts of the opera,classical types. admissioni is free.

Church ,eglise de la Daurade, place de la Daurade, start as early as the 5C, sits along the Garonne river. Here the jeux floreaux are blessed and the Virgin Noir or black Virgin since the 10C known to all pregnant women in town making many miracles, the Virgin was burned during the French revolution and a replica done in 1804 the one you see today. The Catholic diocese site tells you more in French, http://toulouse.catholique.fr/rubriques/gauche/le-diocese/les-paroisses/doyenne-du-centre-ville/paroisse-notre-dame-la-daurade-1

The eglise Notre Dame du Taur, located at 12 rue du Taur, it is here that the body of St Saturnin was finally taken from the torns of the bull that was pulling him for refusing to give up its beliefs, at the exact spot they built the church of our lady of horns at Taur is horns in occitan language. the webpage for the diocese is here http://toulouse.catholique.fr/rubriques/gauche/le-diocese/les-paroisses/doyenne-du-centre-ville/paroisse-notre-dame-du-taur-1

At the end of the allée jean Jaurés you find the Place Wilson, its a place of gathering for Toulousains today and near the tourist office at its end.  You can,also, visit the Jardin des Plantes, started by Napoleon 1, it was to house the collection from the academy of sciences of Toulouse and it is  7 hectares ( 17.3 acres) with at least 6000 species. Some of the marvelous bridges are the Pont Saint Pierre, the first wooden bridge from 1852 ,today it is entirely metallic and 240 meters long (792 ft) redone in 1987. As in Paris, the Pont Neuf is not new but the oldest bridge in the city, its construction began in 1544 AD and ended in 1632AD, it is entirely of bricks and stones. The city has many fountains but for me the one fontaine  Saint Etienne ,the oldest  as it is done with marbre and built in 1584AD , the current decoration dates from 1593AD. The Fontaine Dupuy located at  place Dupuy, old place Dauphine,is the most monumental with its 19,20 meters high (63.3 ft) built between 1829 and 1832.  Not to leave behind the fontaine de Boulbonne.  The place Victor Hugo with its traditional marché or market and restos all around plus shops its one of my main hangouts in the city.

You can ride the petit train or little train in Toulouse for an overview of the city or tired feet,  its taken from rue Lafayette in front of post office building, the webpage http://www.petittraintoulouse.com/fr/

Many opportunities for boating in the Canal du Midi or Garonne river, the ones I have experienced over the years have been the L’Occitania at bd Bonrepos, ecluse bayard in city center near the train station, restaurant service provided. webpage http://www.loccitania.fr/  ,and the Toulouse Croisiéres, bateau le Capitole at quai de la Daurade, webpage http://www.toulouse-croisieres.com/ that can go into the Canal de Brienne as well.

Two activities outside city limits but worth it if with kids or aviation oriented is the Cité de l’Espace, Ave Jean Gonord, Parc de la Plaine, its a wonderful place for me similar to EPCOT at Disney. webpage is http://www.cite-espace.com/ , and the spectacular tour of Airbus airplane manufacturer par excellence at Rue Frantz-Joseph Strauss, village aeroconstellation in nearby Blagnac where the airport is located of Toulouse, you need to reserve in advance and get to see the Airbus A380, webpage http://www.taxiway.fr/

This is real rugby country so come on to cheers the Stade Toulosain and its top 14 league, http://www.stadetoulousain.fr/ at its stade Ernest Wallon or the stade Toulosain TFC for big games. The store to get all the goodies for the game in addition to the team outlet at 73-75 rue d’Alsace Lorraine in city center or the store Misterugby 11 rye des Lois ,webpage  http://www.misterugby.com/Contact.ips

For shopping do not forget to stop by the Peniche boat on the canal du Midi not far from the train station at 3 bd Bonrepos, the Maison de la Violette at webpage http://www.lamaisondelaviolette.fr/  by my favorite area Place Victor Hugo and the marché Victor Hugo you find the Maison Garcia with the best Spanish hams, and regional specialties, webpage under renovation now but its here http://www.maison-garcia.fr/ , and the Maison Samaran, with the best area foie gras in figues or prunes or truffes is awesome, webpage http://www.maisonsamaran.fr/ , and for your cheeses the Fromagerie Xavier, with over 300 varieties in house, webpage http://www.fromages-xavier.com/ , and of course you find all the major department stores like FNAC,Galerie Lafayette, and Virgin megastore in city center.  For mall or shopping center freaks the best is the Espace St George right in city center,entries at rue Carnot, St Jerome or the Capitouls,  the place St George, the webpage http://www.espacesaintgeorges.com/

You cant go wrong by shopping for produce ,meats etc and the stores surrounding the Place Victor Hugo or inside the Marché Victor Hugo ,parking is nice too. The restos will follow the webpage is here now http://www.lejgo.com/restaurantsJGO.html

I have family nearby Toulouse towards Lavaur and Gaillac but have indeed taken hotels in the city. The choices are endless, from the inexpensive Etap Toulouse Centre, not in the city center but about 15 minutes walking from it ,great spot with the locals for a real home feeling, the staff is very friendly, great for families basing here and then go out into the countryside with a car, webpage http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2584-etap-hotel-toulouse-centre/index.shtml ,also the Ibis Toulouse Matabiau near the train station and Canal du Midi, great ambiance and people watching area http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2772-ibis-toulouse-gare-matabiau/index.shtml , and the Mercure Toulouse Wilson Hotel, webpage http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-1260-mercure-toulouse-wilson/index.shtml

For eating and drinking again the choices are endless, but I have my local favorites at the J’Go, place Victor Hugo, branches in Paris but the one in Toulouse is the original one, I had many business lunches and happy hours here over the years, and its great friendly, ambiance, and typical toulosain. webpage here http://www.lejgo.com/restaurantsJGO.html ; in the same area go to the marché Victor Hugo see link above in shopping and try the Le Louchebem, great cassoulet the way it is meant to be done right at home, great views of the quaint streets around it and great friendly service. TRy the ice cream at Octave, the Seneaux for bakery goods ,Vin qui Chante for your wines purchases, and Chez Catherine for a drink and happy hour time. Coming over to the Capitole, Le FLorida ,its an historical here and great people watching especially at nights, webpage http://www.leflorida-capitole.fr/site/ . The Bar Basque over at place ST Pierre with a fiesta ambiance and terraces wonderful, web in renovation today but still there at tel +33 05 61 21 55 64 . At the Place St George go up in style at VG Cafe, a gastronomic delight with avant garde brasserie cuisine. no web tel +33 05 61 21 03 15. A mythical pub, Le Melting Pot, 26 blvd de Strasbourg in city center with many from the aviation industry coming over, draft beers for the soul, and an ambiance to rock; right approaching allée jean jaurés. no web Tel +33 05 61 62 82 98. Le Cardinal brasserie and great people watching at place Wilson, you can see the webpage here http://www.lecardinal-toulouse.com/

The general webpage for tourism in the city is at http://www.toulouse-tourisme.com/accueil/index_fr.php  ;the tourism for the department of  Haute Garonne is at http://tourisme.haute-garonne.fr/ , and the tourist site for the region Midi Pyrénées is at http://www.tourisme-midi-pyrenees.com/fr/index.php 

A wonderful local webpage that I use from tips from folks in the area in French is Toulouse Web, a huge amount of information on just about everything Toulouse, http://www.toulouseweb.com/ you can go to the square boxes on top to go to the section you want. And now some photos.

2 Comments to “Toulouse, la ville rose”

  1. Hello your site has what i was looking for . Excellent work with your blog by the way .

    Like

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