The city of Toulouse, famous for its pink bricks and gastronomy, awaits you for a weekend trip – or perhaps longer. The incredible culinary offerings you’ll encounter on a wander round this fully-walkable city are sure to surprise you.
Toulouse, a large city in Southwestern France, is remarkable not only for its warm weather, but also its welcoming locals – which is why I decided to settle down here four years ago. Join me and discover its gorgeous rosy brick lanes, cultural diversity, and renowned gastronomy!
1. Lose yourself along the narrow streets of the Carmes district
Picture yourself on a stroll around these historically-charged alleys, where it feels like you can read the city’s evolution in the building’s façades, made from Toulouse’s iconic pink bricks.
Somewhere along your walk, you’re sure to come across the picturesque Place de La Trinité, with its beautiful central fountain representing The Three Graces. This artwork, created by famous local architect Urbain Vitry, was erected after a contest was held by the city.
Immerse yourself in this district’s friendly atmosphere and Andalusian-like charm, and settle yourself in at one of the open-air bars, where many groups of friends meet for a bit of quality time together.
2. Place du Capitole, in the very heart of Toulouse
And just like that, there you are – right in the heart of the city, at the famous Place du Capitole! Take a moment to get yourself to the middle, then try to find your star sign – they’re at the end of each point of the beautiful bronze Occitan cross, which adorns the paving stones of Place Hôtel de Ville.
This square is often bustling with life, hosting all kinds of markets and events year-round. There’s also a wide selection of restaurants surrounding it with local specialities on offer, making it the ideal location for a spot of lunch.
And personally, I think Place du Capitole is also the perfect place to immortalise your stay in Toulouse! So, shall we stop for a quick selfie?
3. Rue du Taur, the Pink City summed up
After watching the world go by at Place du Capitole, follow Rue du Taur until you come to Place Saint-Sernin, where a different selection of culinary treats awaits you. As promised, the city of Toulouse combines gastronomy with charm – the restaurants in this area are authentic and affordable!
Why not surprise your loved ones by bringing them something back from one of souvenir shops scattered along Rue du Taur?
Before you arrive at Place Saint-Sernin, you’ll spot a strange church with a flat bell tower that stands out from the other buildings – the Notre-Dame-du-Taur Church. Cross its threshold and delve into its incredible history.
Finally, Rue du Taur is also famous as the home of cultural locations such as Poetry Cave, and even the Toulouse Cinema Library, both of them institutions in their own right.
4. Place Saint-Sernin, a haven of peace
You’re now stood in the brand-new Place Saint-Sernin, an oasis of calm in the city despite being so close to event locations. In the centre stands the Saint-Sernin Basilica, where candlelight concerts are regularly held. The experience is poetic!
The square’s other great monument, the Saint-Raymond museum, is the city’s archaeology museum. You’ll spot it for its wonderful tree-lined courtyard, where you can take a break for a moment to enjoy the toulousaine weather with a good book to keep you company.
5. The inviting Place Wilson
Place Wilson, a stone’s throw from Place du Capitole, has everything you need for a good rest! Pop your belongings on one of the benches and let yourself be charmed by this green oasis in the heart of the city.
If you’re a foodie, there’s an ice cream from one of the city’s best ice-cream makers, Ô Sorbet d’Amour (28 Rue Montardy), with your name on it, waiting to be enjoyed on location. The circular architecture of this location gives it a cocoon-like feel.
6. The sacred Saint-Etienne district!
The Saint-Etienne district has an air of a small village, with the Saint-Etienne Cathedral in the centre, giving this place a very sacred atmosphere. This cathedral is where the district would later get its name from.
As you continue, you’ll notice distinctive and very charming hotels, but also (and above all) some amazing luxury boutiques. Sweet treats and haute-couture await you inside, but there’s also so much more for you to see.
7. The delights of the Victor Hugo market
To sample some local specialities, get yourself down to the Victor Hugo market! This is the true centre of the Southwestern gastronomical world: cassoulet, chips in duck fat, duck breast fillets, and other delicacies await you in both the stands of this market as well as in its restaurants.
8. The thousand colours of the Saint-Aubin market
On Sunday mornings, head over to the Saint-Aubin market. There’s no better example of the cultural diversity I mentioned than the stands of this market. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here!
9. The welcoming Place de la Bourse
Looking to escape the toulousaine heat under a big tree? Place de la Bourse is the square for you. Here, too, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food!
If you’re a bargain hunter, there are multiple second hand shops around this square which you’re sure to love! You’ll find them on Rue Jacques Cujas and Rue Sainte-Ursule.
10. The tapas of Place Saint Georges
Coming to the end of the day? Stroll on down to Place Saint Georges, where epicureanism is alive and kicking. This tree-lined square is surrounded by tapas restaurants, lending the area a unique warmth. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited for a dance there on a summer’s eve, as it’s not unheard of for the paving stones to transform into an improvised dance floor.
11. The quays of the Garonne river and the majestic Dôme de la Grave
As the sun leaves the sky, head for a stroll along the quays of the Garonne river, starting at Quai de la Daurade. The sun sets behind the Saint-Pierre bridge, and the sky becomes emblazoned in pinks and blues. Make this moment live forever, and enjoy the incredible view of the Dôme de la Grave!
12. The strange bars of Place Saint Pierre
“Chez tonton” (Uncle’s House), “La Couleur de la Culotte” (The Colour of Knickers), “Le Saint des Seins” (The Saint of Breasts) – these are some odd names for bars! Hardly surprising, considering you’re stood in the favourite square of many a local student. It’s the perfect place to round off your weekend on a celebratory note!
I’m sure by this point, you’re well aware that Toulouse is a charming mix of great food, authentic architecture, and friendly faces. It’s the perfect combination for a weekend with your friends, family, or partner! So, what are you waiting for? Book your flight and come and pay me a visit!