Toulouse, the pink city and pretty pink!

Let me bring you back ,and me to the wonderful city of the south, the pink city. It is very familiar to me as not only visited as a tourist, and business conferencier, but also as an old University reunion and the home of cousins on wife’s side. Several times over and still very much in our minds for a re visit this year or even retirement choice!  This will be on my black and white series, no pictures. Oh yes , I am talking about Toulouse!

Toulouse is the historical capital of the Languedoc and part of the old kingdom of the Visigoths for more than 100 years ; today it is in the département no 31 of the Haute Garonne in the region of Occitanie. Toulouse in many occasions is known as the Pink City for the color of the material in brick used for construction ; it also, known as the city of Violets when in the 19C it was developed that trade here, ; it is as well known more rarely as the Mondane city because of its many Counts of the city name Raymond. The name meaning of Toulouse is still uncertain, could be Iberian with Tolosa but then it appears in other areas too.

I must say that even if football/soccer is played here and good, Rugby is king. The fame and my rugby team Stade Toulousain has 19 National titles and 4 times European champion.. And we have on the wife side family still here donc we are supporters or maybe they won’t admit me to the family lol!! sorry need to tell you!!!Webpage here:

It is in the center north of the department Haute Garonne , cross by the great Garonne river and the crossing of many highways. The main are the A68 (Albi on the N88, Castres), N124(Auch) , A62 (Montauban, Agen, Bordeaux ), A64(Tarbes) ,A61( Carcassonne, Lyon, Marseille,Barcelona), and the A62 /A20/N20/A10 to Paris. The city of Toulouse received the Garonne river from the Peak of Aneto at 122 km, highest in the Pyrénées at 3404 meters, 144 km from the Mediterranean sea, and 233 km from the Atlantic Ocean.. It has an excellent bus service called Tisseo, with 140 lines. Metro with two lines A/B; interciy bus arc en ciel connecting about 341 towns, and tramway line 1 and 2, as well as a wonderful train station Gare Toulouse-Matabiau located in the district of Matabiau near walking distance done it to city center; there are other stations to serve the TER Occitanie trains. There is an excellent airport that of Toulouse-Blagnac very good airport as well, taken.

For the road warrior in me, the city is good to drive of course. The city center is done like a heart with two arms the right bank and the left bank . The city center or cite is set up around the Place Esquirol with narrow streets around the Capitole, justice palace, Cathedral Saint Etienne, and the Church de la Dalbade; it is the chic neighborhood. Around this you have the bourg or city west of the Capitole and the Church of the Daurade around the center of it is the Basilica of Saint Sernin , the médiéval area with University life and administration buildings. On the rive gauche or left bank you have the neighborhood of faubourg de Saint Cyprien  , a popular area with a hospital tradition such as the Hôtel Dieu . The Pont Neuf and the Place du Capitole are the heart of this center with airy streets to smooth the traffic such as rue de Metz and rue Alsace-Lorraine. Between the boulevards and the Canal du Midi beyond the nice parks alleys and traffic circles you have another beltway  such as the  blvd Saint Michel, blvd Saint Aubin, and Blvd Chalets Minimes around the train station of Matabiau and also on the south on blvd Saint Agne.

A bit of history I like and long ,sorry…

From the mid 3C BC this area was inhabited by a confederation of peoples of the Gauls like the Volques Tectosages in which there was a sub group that of the Tolosates around the current city of Toulouse; by the 2C BC a center was created called the Old Toulouse a few km south of the current Toulouse. While allies of the Romans the volques tectosages revolt against them and were defeated by the Romans in the year 107 BC and Toulouse becomes Roman. By 250 AD Toulouse comes under the prayers of Saturnin that became Saint Sernin (as in the Basilica). The first Basilica of Saint Sernin is built in 403AD and by 413AD the Visigoths invade the city and make Toulouse the capital of their empire. As they have a different culture and religion the Gallo Romans and Visigoths are together but do not mix until 508AD king Clovis of the Francs  takes the city after defeating the Visigoths in the battle of Vouillé.

The city takes its independance to form by 629AD a kingdom of Toulouse and later in the 7C and 8C the capital of a great Duchy of which frontiers reached from the Pyrénées to the Loire and to Rodez and the ocean. In 721 it was siege by the moors/arabs army but were defeated in the battle of Toulouse on June 9 721, ending their progression to the north. The Counts of Toulouse had a domaine for the most part of the region of the Midi of France. In 1152 a common council of the Cité , and the Faubourgs (city center and suburbs) put in place by the Count of Toulouse, this is the Capitoulat of 12 capitols that insured the justice later the ordenances, receiving taxes, raise a militia and keep the order and justice in the city. In 1190 , they acquired a common house by the ramparts near the northern gate that will become the Capitole, today a symbol of the city.

At the same period, the Cathars comes into play and grows creating in 1209 the crusades of the Albigeois, even with a victory with its many problems caused the ruin of the County of Toulouse and brings the County with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on April 12 , 1229.  In 1365, the Pope Urban V, gives to the Dominicans of Toulouse the relics of the philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas maybe to do not give to the city the birthplace of the order, those of Saint Dominique itself. The relics of St Thomas de Aquinas are held in the church of the Jacobins today. During the Renaissance end of the 15C ,Toulouse see a period of great growth due to the Pastel fabric industry and great mansions are built such as the Hôtel de Bernuy ,and Hôtel d’Assezat. Two symbols of the city the Pont Neuf and the Canal du Midi are built in 1632 and 1634 respectively while the Capitole is rebuilt in the 17C.

On April 10 1814 at the battle of Toulouse opposing the Spanish British army of Marshal Wellington and the French of marshal Soult needing the retreat of the French making the pink city the last French-English battle in French soil. The town rallied to the king Louis XVIII and the Restauration after the exile of Napoléon Ier. The Republicans and Royalists are the majority here making it difficult to the followers of Louis Philippe or Napoléon III to fight against their alliance by convenience. . In 1848, the Republic is proclaim from a balcony in the Capitole by Henri Joly. With the arrival of WWI Toulouse is fit with an arsenal of gun powder and welcome a Latécoére at the moment builder of railroad wagons who obtained from the State the right to built airplaines marking the debut of the aeronautical industry in Toulouse. In 1927,  Aeropostale was created by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Jean Mermoz. It also, came Airbus and still there.

During WWII the city is save from combats but is a center of resistance , the nazis leave the city in August 19 1944 after the invasion of Provence. Many Spanish Republicans come to the city and make their resistance center away from Spain with many meetings and fund raising, it then host the exiles after the Victory of Gen Franco in 1939 , about 100K of them and their families. In the early 1960’s many expatriates Algerians come to live in the city. Today, the neighborhood of Saint Michel is the most Caribbean community in Toulouse.

The heritage on buildings is enormous here some religious like the Saint Sernin Basilica and the Convent of the Jacobins ; other modern like the site of Airbus, and some of knowledge of the new like the Contemporary and Modern Arts museum as well as the Capitole that itself houses the city hall, a room of nobles and famous with work by Artists of Toulouse from the 19C ,an Opera, a symphonic orchestra on the square of place du Capitole..Behind it are the tower or Donjon du Capitole in a park surrounded by the tourist office at the entrance to city center below the alley of Jean Jaurés (that comes from the Matabiau train station) , there is the Place Wilson surrounded by brick buildings with a lively ambiance of terrace bars ,cafes and cinemas. You go along the Garonne river to the quays and wharfs renovated in the 18C such as quai Henri-Martin and quai de Tounis built in brick to hold on the flooding and allowing to walk the banks of the river to discovered the old bridges such as the Pont Neuf, the oldest in Toulouse with 220 meters long and the Pont Saint Pierre a metallic bridge done in 1987. A bit down the Garonne river you will see the Bazacle, where the first inhabitants of Toulouse were installed and today it is a dam to keep the water level of the Garonne in balance during the Summers. Along the banks, you find the Hospital de la Grave and its Chapel of Saint Joseph de la Grave with the dome covered in copper as well as the water tower of Toulouse that houses a photographic exhibition. The place de la Trinité , and the rue des Filatiers are wonderful places to discovered with its wonderful mansions in brick ; at the rue des Filatiers there is the house or maison Calas,(jean Casas found guilty and executed for killing his son who had converted to Catholicism, himself a Protestant), and at the end of the street the Church de la Dalbade. You as well see the wonderful train station of Gare Matabiau and the Canal du Midi, the Saint Michel prison, and the Niel Palace built on the old fortications of Toulouse to house the marshal of France Adolphe Niel,and the amphitheatre of Purpan Ancely, one of the only remaining intact building of the Roman period in Toulouse.

The city has an incalcuble numbers of mansions on the pink brick architecture as well as famous cafes on the same motif. Other than the previously mentioned religious buildings there is also the Cathedral St Etienne or St Stephen; Church Notre Dame du Taur, Convent of St Augustinians also the museum of Augustins; Orthodox religious rites at the Church of Saint Nicolas at avenue de Grande Bretagne or the Synagogues with the oldest that of Palaprat. Othe than along the Canal du Midi, you have the Jardin Royal, and the jardin Japonais Jardin des Plantes,and the Grand Rond, are very nice green spaces in the city. Other museums in addition to those mentioned above are the Musée Saint Raymond located practically across from the Saint Sernin Basilica was created in 1892 to showcase the art and archaeology of antiquity. Very educational indeed. The before mentioned Musée des Augustins created in 1795 is the fine arts(Beaux-Arts) . museum. The interesting Hôtel d’Assézat houses the fondation Bemberg with a collection of books, portraits and sculptures. And of course many cinemas, theatres and galleries to make this a grand city of the south, the pink city.

Here are some webpages to help you plan your trip to this beautiful city of the south deep south of France.

City of Toulouse and its heritage :

Tourism Toulouse:

Tourism dept Haute Garonne 31 on Toulouse :

Tourism region of Occitanie on Toulouse :

And there you have it, the blog post and the above will give you a darn good idea of what to do and how in this wonderful Toulouse, so dear to me, love it. One of my favorites in France, and  that my dear readers is saying a lot.

Enjoy your week, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all !!!

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8 Comments to “Toulouse, the pink city and pretty pink!”

  1. Nice introduction to Toulouse. I’m always interested in learning about major cities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We almost went there, but heard the campsite is really awful and we had nowhere else to stop, so we had to give it a miss, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I went to Toulouse last month and really enjoyed it 🙂 it’s a great city to visit! thanks for the history lesson, so interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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