Toulouse Tourist Attractions


Toulouse, France's fourth largest city, the cultural and economic center of southern France, the see of an archbishop, a university town since 1230 and chief town of Languedoc and the département of Haute-Garonne, lies on the right bank of the Garonne and on the Canal du Midi, which since 1681 has provided a link between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by way of the Garonne. Known as the "red city" because of its numerous brick buildings, it is rich in art and architecture, and is also the center of the French aircraft and space industry.

Place de Capitole

The hub of Toulouse's life is the busy Place du Capitole, the west side of which is lined with beautiful arcades. On the east side of the square is the Capitole, named after the old chapter (capitulum) of magistrates (capitouls) who ruled the city. In the right-hand wing of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) is the Municipal Theater. To the rear is the Donjon, a defensive tower of 1529; in the courtyard are numerous works of modern sculpture.

St Sernin

St SerninSt Sernin

From the Place du Capitole Rue du Taur runs north, passing the 14th C. church of Notre-Dame du Taur, with a fortified facade, to the church of St Sernin.

The basilica of St Sernin, a wide brick-built church with a five-aisled nave and three-aisled transepts, is one of the most magnificent pilgrimage churches on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela and one of the finest of all Romanesque churches. The choir was built between 1075 and 1080 and consecrated in 1096, and the church was completed during the 13th C. It was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th C. It stands on the site of an earlier church in which St Saturninus (Sernin) was buried. Particularly fine are the choir with its ring of nine chapels and the six-story tower over the crossing which was much imitated in Languedoc and Gascony. It has imposing doorways, particularly the Porte Miégeville in the south aisle, with 12th C. Romanesque sculpture (on left King David, on the lintel the Apostles, in the tympanum the Ascension). In the south transept is the Porte des Comtes, with capitals depicting Lazarus and the rich man and the torments of the damned; to the left of the doorway is a recess containing four sarcophagi of Counts of Toulouse.

The cruciform interior has some notable features including seven 11th C. marble reliefs in the ambulatory, the 16th and 17th C. choir screens and the choir-stalls of 1670. In the apse is the tomb of St Sernin and in the north transept a large carved Romanesque crucifix. In the crypt is the church treasury, with numerous relics and six large polychrome wood statues of Apostles (14th C.).

Musée St Raymond

Opposite St Sernin is the Musée St Raymond, with prehistoric and Roman antiquities and a rich collection of medieval and Renaissance decorative art.

Address: Place Saint-Sernin, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Canal du Midi

Canal du MidiCanal du Midi
The Canal du Midi was originally built as shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The 240 km long canal was designed in 1667 and it took 10 years, and 12,000 workers, to complete it. This was a huge undertaking in the 17th century.
The banks of Canal du Midi are used by cyclists and walkers today to explore. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of Sète.

Eglise des Jacobins

West of the Place du Capitole is the brick-built Gothic church of the Jacobins (1260-1292), with a cloister of 1307. On one side is a handsome tower, built in 1301-1304 on the model of St Sernin. The two-aisled nave has dark-veined groined vaulting, which radiates in fan form from the last of the seven central piers in the choir. The remains of St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) were deposited in this church in 1974.

Address: 69 rue Pargaminières, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Hôtel de Bernuy

The Hôtel de Bernuy was built in 1509-1534 by a Spanish merchant of that name, with a beautiful courtyard in early Renaissance style.

Address: 1 rue Leon Gambetta, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Notre Dame de la Daurade

From the Hôtel de Bernuy, Rue J.- Suau runs southwest to the Place de la Daurade, with views of the Garonne, the Pont-Neuf (1543-1614) and the St-Cyprien district across the river. On the banks of the Garonne is the Baroque church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Daurade, built in 1773-1790 on the site of an earlier 12th C. church. Southeast is the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Dalbade (1503-1545), with a large Renaissance doorway of 1537. Farther south is the Hôtel de Pierre (16th and 17th C.), and to the east of this the Hôtel Béringuier-Maynier (1517-1527), the earliest example of the so-called "Toulouse Renaissance" style. Around this church and in all this quarter of the town are many handsome old houses.

Address: 1 place de la Daurade, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Hôtel d'Assézat

A little way east of the Pont-Neuf, in Rue de Metz, is the Hôtel d'Assézat, the most elegant of the city's burghers' houses, built by Nicolas Bachelier in 1555-1557 for the Capitoul d'Assézat, with a beautiful courtyard.

Address: Place d'Assézat, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Cathedral of St Etienne

Cathedral of St EtienneCathedral of St Etienne

Near the east end of the Rue de Metz, in a spacious square, is the Cathedral of St Etienne, dominated by its massive tower. Its irregular plan is the result of the long period over which it was constructed (11th-17th C.). The 13th C. rose window in the west front is similar to the one in Notre-Dame in Paris. When it was built at the end of the 12th C. the three-aisled nave, in northern French Gothic style, was the widest vaulted structure of the kind in Europe, with a span of 19 m/62ft. The windows date from the 14th-17th centuries, the choir-stalls from 1611, the numerous tapestries from the 16th-18th centuries.

Musée des Augustins

The Musée des Augustins, housed in a former Augustinian monastery, including the chapterhouse and the cloisters (14th and 17th C.), has a large collection of sculpture, with fine examples of Early Christian sarcophagi and medieval sculpture, and of pictures.

Address: 21 rue de Metz, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Other Museums

The Musée d'Histoire Naturelle is in the Jardin des Plantes, and the Musée du Vieux Toulouse (history of the town) is housed in a handsome 16th-17th C. mansion to the south of the Place du Capitole.

3km/2mi west is the new district of Toulouse-le-Mirail (pop. 100,000), designed by G. Candilis.

Fondation Bemberg

Fondation Bemberg is located in a mansion completed in 1555. The restored mansion contains the personal collection belonging to Georges Bemberg.
Highlights of the collection include paintings, bronze sculptures and other objects that date back to the 17th century and Renaissance.
Address: Hôtel d'Assézat, Place d'Assézat, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Hôtel Resseguier

Hôtel Resseguier was built in the 17th century for François Resseguier and now serves as a department store, Nouvelles Galeries. Visitors can admire the exterior for its stone and brick designs around the windows, the courtyard and the two rectangular towers. Inside, the top floor is a cafe that offers spectacular views of the city.

Cite de l'Espace

Cite de l'Espace is an astronomical museum with a Planetarium. Outside the museum is a park with a maze featuring technological inventions and interactive displays. Displays include the MIR space station, a replica of Ariane 5, and the Soyuz space vehicle.
Address: Avenue Jean-Gonord, F-31506 Toulouse, France

Place Dupuy

Place Dupuy is a large square in Toulouse that is noted for its small-town atmosphere. The square is surrounded by cafés with a central fountain that dates from 1832. The fountain in Place Dupuy commemorates one of the battles of the Italian wars. The tall column features four water-spitting griffins and an allegorical statue of Fame.

Toulouse Métro

The Toulouse Métro is a fully automated (unmanned) rubber tired system. It was opened in 1993 and is made up of one line with 10km of track, 9km of which are underground. There are 15 stations. Feeder buses serve five of the stations. Trains run between 5:00 in the morning until just past midnight.
The system serves about 22 million people yearly with 29 two-car trains.

Ailes Anciennes Toulouse

A wide variety of aircraft have been gathered together to be part of this impressive collection. Of particular note is the O.N.E.R.A. Deltavieux, a Dakota, a Vampire, a German Starfighter and MiG-29 and a Belgian Thunderstreak.
Address: 31 rue du Rempart-Matabiau, F-31000 Toulouse, France

Les Abattoirs

Les Abattoirs is a modern and contemporary art museum with a collection of over 2,300 works. The main focus is paintings, photographs and graphic works with a small collection of sculptures. Over 700 artists are highlighted in the permanent exhibitions of Les Abattoirs.
Address: 76 allées Charles-de-Fitte, F-31300 Toulouse, France

Parc de la Prairie Filters

Parc de la Prairie Filters is the largest green space in Toulouse. The park runs from the Pont-Neuf to the Pont-Saint-Michel along the river bank. There is a public garden, bowling alley and a children's playground. Visitors to Parc de la Prairie Filters can also enjoy walking or cycling throughout.

Planète Jeux

Planète Jeux is an interactive game area that is geared to young people. The first floor features over 80 interactive video games including ski, motorcycle, formula 1 and jet simulators. The lower level of Planète Jeux is for 5 to 12 year olds with supervised workshops available.

Vault of the Carmelite nuns

This building is known for it's painting by Jean-Baptiste Despax which represent the interests of the Carmelite nuns.
Address: Rue du Périgord, F-31000 Toulouse, France


Jazz Festival, Souillac, France

Souillac hosts an annual three-day jazz festival which takes place in late July and includes a mixture of formal concerts and street entertainment. New Orleans bands and jazz quartets entertain visitors with American jazz music, which is the main focus of the festival.
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