A Deep Travel Guide to Toulouse – The Pink City


From charming pink-hued streets to a rich cultural heritage, Toulouse beckons travellers with its blend of history, art, science, and gastronomy. Join One Planet Journey’s Berenisse Fernandez Rivera, a Toulouse resident, as she unveils the secrets of this vibrant city in southwestern France. Sights, food, accommodation, sustainable transport, and cultural activities, this is your travel guide to Toulouse. 


When I hear the song “la vie en rose” by Edith Piaf, I don’t think of Paris, instead my mind travels to the pink city of Toulouse, the capital of the Occitanie region.

If you ask me what I like most about it, this guide would be more of a book. Therefore, I share with you a curated glimpse of the fourth biggest city in France, but be careful! The article might make you want stay longer than planned.

Toulouse is also a perfect starting point to discover more of the south of France and nearby countries, thanks to its international connections and excellent transport links. Home to a large student population, and residents of many nationalities, there is a fusion of cultures, which attracted me to come and study here, and to delve deeper into French culture. Aside from the nice weather, of course.

Welcome to the city of violets and chocolatine (the iconic pastry that you might know by another name). You will love the youthful vibe, the endless choices of activities, and, of course, the sumptuous cassoulet. Let’s go!

Chocolatine pastry.
Breakfast in Toulouse: The Chocolatine


Accommodation in Toulouse

With a compact city centre, and the main sights within walking distance, a majority of hotels in the centre offer comfortable stays and act as a gateway to exploring the city.

Here are 3 top-rated hotels (over 8/10), also sporting a sustainability certificate from Booking.com:

The Novotel Toulouse Center Wilson – in the heart of the city, close to a main metro station, bars, restaurants, and almost all tourist attractions.

The Pullman Toulouse Center Ramblas – located a few steps from the train station, and the metro, it has a contemporary and beautiful interior design.

Eklo Toulouse – on the right bank, Eklo sits in the Cartoucherie eco-district, 15 minutes from the Place du Capitole.


Sights in Toulouse

The label of the pink city stems from the monuments and buildings, built with terracotta brick, a Roman legacy. A bright orange/pink colour permeates the centre of town and the famous landmarks. Be sure not to miss these;


The Capitol

The City Hall building covers the entire width of the main square. When I laid eyes on it, I felt as if it welcomed me with open arms. In the city centre, use it as a good starting point for your exploration, as it connects to other beautiful streets and areas with lots more to discover. Or why not relax in the many restaurants and cafés?

I recommend taking time to explore the interior. It’s free and offers luxurious halls to wander through while admiring exquisite paintings, for example in the Gervais Hall and Hall of Illustrious.

Facade of red and white palace like building.
First light of the day illuminating the Capitol


The Basilica of Saint Sernin

I can’t recall the number of times I have walked nearby, only to stare at its great tower. The current building (built between 1080-1120) stands atop a site of a previous basilica from the 4th century and is the largest Romanesque building in Europe today. It got its UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1998 as part of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela.


The Jacobin Convent

The Jacobin Convent has three characteristics that I love in monuments of this class: beautiful stained-glass windows, Gothic architecture, and high ceilings. Decorations above will make your neck hurt from gazing upward for too long. It not only takes your breath away but also makes you realise how far we can reach, thanks to creativity. Be sure to tour the cloister and its gardens for peace and calm. And for history buffs and deep travel enthusiasts, the convent houses the reliquary of Summa Theologiae author, Thomas Aquinas.


A Green and Blue Travel Guide to Toulouse

Toulouse is a city which motivates you to visit it in a calm state. It doesn’t rush you, instead inviting you to disconnect, and then better connect with yourself. Here are my favourite spots where you can breathe deep, stroll in peace, and let the youthful vibe characterising the city infect you.


The Daurade

There is no Toulouse local who hasn’t gone to the Daurade port to sit on the banks of the Garonne River, either to read, rest, or do the famous “apero”. It means sharing a snack, wine, or a beer with your friends after work. In the background, you hear other people’s conversations and the music of street artists, while the terraces of restaurants and cafés trade through their last hours of the day.

Ever since I arrived, part of my deep travel exploration of the Pink City led me to participate in this tradition to get involved with local life.

Telling a friend about my day while watching the sunset paint the water and sky in different colours is something I cherish a lot.

Bridge and city skyline mirrored in a river at sunset.
Sunset in the port of La Daurade and the St Pierre Bridge


The Gardens of Toulouse

Jardin de Plantes (Garden of plants) is the best known green space in Toulouse, comprising a huge botanical garden with beautiful fountains. It’s perfect for a picnic or taking a nap, but keep an eye out for the cheeky swans and ducks. I find it a brilliant spot to understand the Toulouse way of life because it serves as a meeting point for families, students, and locals.

Fans of dinosaurs and science, who call on the Toulouse Natural History Museum, can also enjoy the beautiful botanical garden housed on the grounds.

If you want to elevate the sensation of peace and disconnection I mentioned earlier, visit the Japanese Garden. It’s a favourite of mine because it has a certain magic, which turns off the sound of cars and noises from outside as soon as you walk through its doors. A stroll among the bamboo plants, and my brain already goes into a relaxed mood thanks to the Zen atmosphere of this small garden.


The Midi waterway

Want to escape exhausting crowds? Toulouse has a place which combines walking while surrounding yourself with nature in an urban area. The Canal du Midi is part of a waterway, including the Garonne River, which creates a link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

A large gravel road connects with the center of Toulouse, providing strollers a blue and green walk, thanks to the canal and the columns of trees on each side. It’s like walking along an endless path.


Toulouse – A Sustainable Travel Guide

From preservation of the environment, recycling projects, and its “Air Energy Climate Territorial Plan”, Toulouse shows its commitment to sustainable development. A few years back, it joined the Global Destination Sustainability Index, and became part of a movement, which seeks to turn urban centres into more regenerative places to visit, live, and do business in.

Aside from a walkable city centre, with accommodation, sights, and restaurants close to each other, I found Toulouse’s wide, quiet streets perfect for two-wheel exploration. You find cycle paths and rental stations throughout the city.

The extensive network of buses, trams, and metro (with a future expansion planned) that connects Toulouse with its most remote districts makes it easy to live and commute in a comfortable, safe, and ecological manner.

The municipality encourages people to use local trains (instead of cars) to connect with the cities and towns within the Occitanie region, part of a national effort to promote sustainable transport.

Facade of train station with individuals in the front of the building.
Matabiau Train Station in Toulouse


Toulouse – A City of Science and Innovation

For me, Toulouse is an example and an inspiration for facing challenges and showing the ability of human beings to surpass themselves. There is no shortage of places to visit to understand why.


The Aeroscopia Museum

Not interested in aviation? This place will make you change your mind. See legendary planes like the Concorde, a Star Wars ship, and fly a plane thanks to virtual reality. Everything you need for an out-of-the-ordinary day.


The Cité de l’Espace (The Space City)

Childhood dreams of becoming a scientist and an astronaut make me jump with joy as I write these lines. Through science, the cosmos, and astronomy, the Cité de l’Espace provides a unique simulation of being in contact with space.

The solar system, the universe, and the stars, normally unattainable, become part of your personal experience, thanks to the joint work of the French meteorological service and the European Space Agency (ESA). Through complete immersion, they have made it possible to understand what it is like to be off Earth.


L’Envol des Pionniers (The Flight of Pioneers)

My curiosity got me here, and for true aviation buffs, I promise an instant love affair.

The museum pays tribute to the pioneers in the history of human flight. Through videos, files, and historical reports, you can relive parts of the projects which led to the significant achievement of humanity conquering the air.

Museum exhibit of plane from start of aviation history.
Aviation history at Envol des Pionniers Museum


Culture and Art in Toulouse

Enjoy free open-air exhibitions or permanent ones such as those held in the Quai de Savoirs museum, a few steps from the Palace of Justice. At the nearby metro station there is a book fair, and every week you find organised flea markets in the main square of the Capitol.

The city supports both local and international artists, and I especially recommend the Fondation Bemberg, which houses Renaissance paintings and masterpieces of Impressionism in the most beautiful mansion in the city, the Hôtel d’Assézat.

The Les Abattoirs Museum is the ideal place to appreciate contemporary art. Browse through the collection of 4000 works, distributed in spacious rooms with Soulages and Picasso among the artists. A few steps from the St Pierre Bridge, the museum hosts concerts and artistic performances.

Three floor facade of mansion.
Hôtel d’Assézat – Home of the Fondation Bemberg Art Collection


What to Eat in Toulouse?

There is no better way to understand the soul of a city than by visiting its markets. Whether it’s an open-air variety, Victor Hugo’s iconic market, or gastronomic fairs, Toulouse provides more than one option to learn about its cultural identity.

Start the day on a terrace having a coffee with a “chocolatine”, the rectangular-shaped pastry with layers of butter and dough folded together over a centre of chocolate. In Paris and the northern parts of France, you know it as Pain au Chocolat. Rumour has it that if you order it as a Pain au Chocolat in certain Toulouse bakeries, they will charge you extra. The name difference comes from the Occitanie language spoken in the region.

You can’t leave without trying the famous Cassoulet, the representative dish of the south of France. It consists of a stew made with white beans and meat (beef and pork), served on a hot rustic plate. The mix of flavours resulting from the cooking process makes this a delicious meal. For an authentic version, try La Maison du Cassoulet, Chez Emilie, and Le Genty Magre, the 2023 Cassoulet world champion. It’s a little more expensive but worth every euro.

Rustic dish of white beans and meat
Cassoulet – typical of the Occitanie Region


Music and Festivals

Classical music in a church illuminated only by candles, and plenty of concerts. Musical Toulouse has spoiled me.

For an experience with fusion of cultures, I recommend the Music Festival, the Rio Loco Festival, and the Rose Festival. The latter is a true representation of Toulouse identity thanks to the local artists who parade the stages.

For cinema aficionados, like myself, Toulouse brings films from all over the world, creations you won’t find in regular movie theaters. There is the Toulouse International Film Festival, and the Latin American Film Festival.

Pink poster with title Rose Festival En Occitanie
Rose Festival in Toulouse


Beyond Toulouse

Toulouse is a perfect starting point for further exploration of the south of France. It’s connected to the major cities by train, bus, or plane, with almost all the routes direct and non-stop. In two hours you are in Montpellier, then continue on to Marseille, Cannes, Nice, and finish in Monaco. And why not go a little further and visit Italy?

Speaking of international travel, I love Toulouse’s proximity to other countries. In one hour by bus, I am in Andorra, and in six hours for Barcelona. By air, it takes one hour to arrive in London. For a single traveller like myself, Toulouse airport is indispensable, and to get there you only need public transportation.

But before you think of leaving, enjoy the convivial atmosphere, have a restful afternoon while you watch the sunset. Join the festivities with a night of Occitanie delicacies, artistic fusion, and then a morning on the terrace while sipping coffee and munching on a chocolatine. What more can you ask?


Have you been to Toulouse? Do you like other parts of Occitanie? Let us know in the comment section! Subscribe to our newsletter and benefit from travel guides, sustainable tourism and luxury travel tips, insightful interviews, and inspirational places to visit. One Planet Journey – The World’s First Deep Travel Magazine.


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