Weekend in Toulouse

Known as the “ville rose” (pink city) due to its grand Renaissance-style pink brick buildings, Toulouse has the title ‘Cassoulet Capital’.


Don’t leave Toulouse without sampling this regional dish – stew made from goose, pork, mutton and haricot beans. Try it accompanied with a local wine.

Toulouse has some impressive buildings bearing witness to its richness and supremacy of long ago. Saint-Sernin Basilica is the largest and most perfect example of Roman architecture in France, and biggest Roman church in Western Europe. It was built in the eleventh century on the site of a former basilica containing the tomb of Saint Saturnin. Saint-Sernin is an important stage on the Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle pilgrimage way.

Saint-Etienne Cathedral has unusual architectural designs due to the style changes that took place over the five centuries during which it was constructed (thirteenth to seventeenth century). The cathedral has some fascinating features, such as its stained glass windows, tapestries and the beautiful rose window of 1230.

The thirteenth century Couvent des Jacobins is an important example of Southern monastic architecture. The church has seven huge central columns supporting star-shaped vaults. Each column supports twenty-two ribs, giving the beautiful impression that you are looking at a palm tree. Its one hundred foot high bell tower is an excellent example of Toulousain construction.

Why not complete your visit to Toulouse with a relaxing trip on the River Garonne?


The Couvent des Augustins isn’t only a magnificent example of a fourteenth century monastic complex, but also one of France’s richest museums. At the time of the Revolution the complex was transformed into a Museum of the Republic, to house rescued artwork when monuments were destroyed. Today, you can see paintings and sculptures going back to early Christian times.

You’ll find the Tourist Office housed in the sixteenth century Donjon, the former home of the City Archives.

The Town Hall, the Capitole dates back to 1759. This impressive building with its imposing façade has eight red-marble columns representing the eight Aldermen (Capitouls) who made their fortune from woad during Toulouse’s Golden Age between 1500 and 1700. On the first floor you can visit the long gallery with busts and magnificent frescoes by Toulouse artists.

The Capitole Theatre has a great reputation for opera and music. Concerts are held in the well-known Halle aux Grains. During the summer, special music festivals are organized.

The Aldermen constructed grand houses, with medieval towers, fitting to their prestige. Some examples to visit are those of Assézat, Bernuy and Mansencal.

Why not complete your visit to Toulouse with a relaxing trip on the River Garonne? The departure point is at the pleasant Place de la Daurade green spot.

Sarah Barton

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