What to visit in Toulouse (France)? Prepare your weekend in the “pink city” thanks to this city guide. You will find in this article some advice to organize your stay, good addresses and a selection of must-see visits.
Prepare your stay in Toulouse
- When to go? Preferably in spring and summer to enjoy the city under the sun, but many indoor activities are available all year round.
- How long will I stay there? At least one weekend to discover the heart of the city, 3-4 days to visit the cultural sites on the outskirts (space city, machine hall), one week to discover the region.
- How to get there? By plane from major cities, otherwise by train
- For whom? As a couple or a family by adapting the activities
How to come to Toulouse?
Toulouse is a large city with good transport links. Depending on your city of origin you can choose to come by train or by plane.
From Paris, the train is probably the most convenient option. The journey takes 4 hours and 20 minutes but allows you to arrive directly in the center of Toulouse, less than 15 minutes walk from the Capitole. Moreover, with the establishment of the Ouigo lines, it is possible to find fares as interesting as the plane.
Getting around Toulouse
Most of the points of interest are located in the heart of the city so that Toulouse can easily be discovered on foot. If you are not a keen walker, a bicycle rental service is available throughout the city, the first 30 minutes are free.
To discover places located a little further away such as the Halle des Machines or the Cité de l’Espace, a public transportation network (metro and bus) is at your disposal. The transport ticket is sold for €1.70 (or €2 if you buy it on the bus).
Where to stay in Toulouse?
Toulouse is a city that you can easily discover on foot if you choose a well located accommodation. Prefer the right bank because that’s where almost all the points of interest are located (see visiting tips below in the article). If possible, I advise you to choose an accommodation close to the Capitol, which is the central point of the city.
I recommend the Ibis Style hotel located on the Capitol Square which offers a very good value for money. Recently refurbished, the rooms are clean and modern and overlook either the square or a very quiet patio. The buffet breakfast is included in the price of the rooms. Throughout the day you can also have a drink or a coffee at the hotel, a good spot for a quiet stop whether you are a resident of the hotel or not.
10 visits to do absolutely to discover Toulouse in one weekend
There are many things to do and see in Toulouse but here are the 10 visits you must do to get a good overview of the city!
Stroll around and understand why Toulouse is called the “pink city”!
Like any city, it is while strolling in its streets that one best appreciates Toulouse. Let yourself be carried away by its narrow streets and its architecture made of bricks which is of course at the origin of the nickname of “pink city” and which gives a lot of charm to the city.
Entering the Capitol
The Capitole is the most emblematic building in Toulouse, it is also on the square facing it that the major events and gatherings take place. It was created from the 12th century by the “Capitouls”, the city councillors who administered the city and gave it its name. It still houses the town hall today.
Open to all and free of charge, you can discover sumptuous ceremonial rooms, decorated by local artists who painted the history of the city. Don’t forget to look up to admire the painted ceilings. A must-see!
Admire the Capitol Dungeon
Behind the Capitol, this amazing tower dates back to the 16th century. It was also built at the request of the Capitulans in order to preserve municipal documents, hence its defensive appearance. The belfry that crowns it is a 19th century addition created by Viollet-le-Duc. Today, this astonishing dungeon is home to the tourist office. So don’t hesitate to enter it to get some advice for visits!
Visit the Jacobins convent
The Jacobins convent is my favorite place in Toulouse! If from the outside it is very austere, the interior is sublime.
The church is accessible free of charge, you can see a sumptuous stone palm tree 28 meters high! The access to the rest of the convent is paying (5 € in full price, 3 € in reduced price). However, it would be a shame to miss this visit which gives you access to the cloister, the chapter house and the chapel.
We owe this convent to the preaching brothers who settled in Toulouse in 1215 to face the Cathar heresy.
Go to see the panorama on the Garonne and the left bank…
Stroll along the docks to enjoy a nice view of the left bank, the bridges and the dome of the Grave which dates back to the Middle Ages.
Then contemplate the city from the Daurade
La Daurade is an ancient port intimately linked to the history of the city. There were the fishermen of sand, the material at the base of cement and brick constructions that shaped Toulouse. Today it is a lively place in the heart of a very lively district. You can sit on the bank to contemplate the city and why not a sunset if you are there at the right time.
Entering the Saint-Sernin basilica
This is one of the largest Romanesque basilicas in Europe, such a marvel that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its construction began in the 11th century in honor of Saint Saturnin, a martyr who was dragged into the city by a bull in the 3rd century.
To be surprised in front of (and in) the Saint-Etienne cathedral
The cathedral of Toulouse is like no other! Built, destroyed, rebuilt, restored over the centuries, it gives the impression of a patchwork of different architectural styles! The whole is nevertheless harmonious but the big surprise comes when you enter it: you find yourself in a nave that is not at all aligned with the choir. It is also here that Pierre-Paul Riquet rests, to whom we owe the construction of the Canal du Midi.
Go to see the Hôtel d’Assézat
This beautiful mansion is named after Pierre d’Assézat, a rich merchant and capitul who had this building built to show his success. There is a richly decorated courtyard and, inside, the Bemberg Foundation which exhibits a collection of works of art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century.
Another place not to be missed is the Musée des Augustins (the city’s fine arts museum) but at the time of my visit it is unfortunately closed for works.
If you have a little more time, you can go out of the city center to discover the Cité de l’Espace, a large playful park to better understand the conquest of space. It is a perfect place for a family visit with many activities for young and old: planetarium, IMAX movies, visit of the MIR station and many exhibitions are waiting for you, enough to occupy a whole day.
You can also go to the Machine Hall. After the success in Nantes, these poetic machines in wood and metal are now also visible in Toulouse. Here no elephant but an impressive Minotaur!
The map of good addresses
To help you find your way around, here is a map with all the good addresses mentioned in this article:
Extend your stay by going to discover the other treasures of the region! In particular, I recommend the Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo which runs along the Canal du Midi and allows you to travel from Toulouse to Sète on two wheels and discover many cultural places throughout your trip.
At 1h30 by car you can also go and discover the magnificent city of Albi and the beauties of the Tarn, a department I fell in love with.
And for other ideas for trips or weekends, go to the Travel section where many useful guides are waiting for you in France and Europe.
Have a nice trip to Toulouse!