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Toulouse is a city to savor on foot, walking alongside the Garonne River and the Canal du Midi to see the colorful canal boats or through its streets to admire its Renaissance mansions. Toulouse has more of these than any other French city, built by wealthy bourgeois who vied with one other for the most elegant adornments and tallest towers added to their townhouses. Because these and so many other buildings are constructed of brick and tile, the entire city takes on a rosy aura, giving rise to the name Ville Rose. Brick and stone were combined in the construction of the 11th-century Romanesque St-Sernin Basilica, with an unusual ...

Toulouse is a city to savor on foot, walking alongside the Garonne River and the Canal du Midi to see the colorful canal boats or through its streets to admire its Renaissance mansions. Toulouse has more of these than any other French city, built by wealthy bourgeois who vied with one other for the most elegant adornments and tallest towers added to their townhouses. Because these and so many other buildings are constructed of brick and tile, the entire city takes on a rosy aura, giving rise to the name Ville Rose. Brick and stone were combined in the construction of the 11th-century Romanesque St-Sernin Basilica, with an unusual octagonal bell-tower. Said to be the largest building of that era in the Western World, it was once a major point on the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. The 13th-century Jacobin Church was France’s first rectangular church, well worth visiting for its magnificent ribbed palm-tree vaulting and its beautiful cloister. Saint Etienne cathedral is a sampler of architectural styles, all mixed together, but remarkable for its rose window, stained-glass, tapestries and suspended organ. Toulouse is filled with art museums: The Fondation Bemberg shows a major collection of Old Masters, Impressionists and Expressionists; the Augustins Museum has paintings and sculptures from early Christian times through the early 20th century, and several 19th-century industrial buildings have become art and culture venues – Galerie du Château d’Eau, Musèe des Abattoirs and the Bazacle.

Juliette Rogers
About the Expert

Juliette Rogers is coauthor of the guidebooks Eating New England: A Food Lovers Guide to Eating Locally, Secret Providence and Newport, and two Thomas Cook guides on France.

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Juliette Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Toulouse is in the southwest of France on the banks of the River Garonne, half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Toulouse's sights are open all year, but the weather is often damp and gray in the winter.