When you think about France, the first place that comes to mind is Paris, the country’s capital city. But further south in France is a beautiful city called Toulouse that we think should also come to mind when dreaming of France.
Nicknamed “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City), because many of its buildings are made from pink bricks, Toulouse is the fourth largest metropolis in France and the capital of the South West region. There are a lot of amazing things to do in Toulouse, making it a fantastic vacation destination.
The “City of Love”, as Paris is known, received over 19 million visitors in 2018, making it the second most visited city in the world after Bangkok. While Paris has many attractions that bring in large tourism numbers, it is by no means the only place you should visit when you travel to France.
In this post, I will give you my top picks of things to do and see in Toulouse so you can plan a great vacation in this beautiful city.
Popular Activities to Include in Your Toulouse Travel Itinerary
1. Majestic Place du Capitole
This is one of the most visited places in Toulouse, and you cannot leave the city without seeing this beautiful piece of architecture that is centuries old. At Place du Capitole, you will also find a large and lively square that is packed with cafes, restaurants and a flea market where you can buy souvenirs for your trip.
2. La Cité de l’Espace
Ever wondered what it felt like to walk on the moon? Well, visit this space museum and you’ll get to experience that. Using virtual reality simulators and a special suit you can be able to feel like an astronaut on the moon at La Cité de l’Espace.
Walking on the moon is not the only thing that you’ll get to do at La Cité de l’Espace. The attraction has replicas of the Ariane 5 Rocket, which from 2003 completed over 70 successful space missions, and the actual MIR space station that orbited the earth from 1986 to 2001. If you’ll love anything to do with space exploration a visit to La Cité de l’Espace is a must when in Toulouse.
Tickets: You can buy tickets online here. They are 16€, with discounts for groups. They also offer packages that include hotel stay.
Hours: They are open 10am – 5 or 6pm most days. Though they are closed for large chunks of time, too. Be sure to check their hours before you make your plans.
3. Tour the Museums Around Toulouse
Like many other European cities, Toulouse is packed with world-class museums you can explore. Here are some to include in your travel plans.
- Muséum d’ historie Naturelle de Toulouse (The Natural History Museum). At this museum, you’ll get to learn more about the evolution of man.
- The Bemberg Foundation. This attraction exhibits western art from the middle ages to the late 20th century.
- Les Abattoirs. This museum got its name because it is located in a former abattoir. Also called the Toulouse Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, it exhibits hundreds of modern-day art. It also has works that go back to the Second World War. There are temporary exhibitions held regularly, with one of the most recent displaying art by world-renowned artist Pablo Picasso.
PRO TIP: You can get free entrance to museums and monuments around the city with the Toulouse City Card. Buy it here.
4. Go Admire Basilique Saint-Sernin
This historic site has been called the greatest church in France, and you should visit it to admire its beautiful architecture, eye-catching interior design, and art.
The grand basilica is open every day from 8:30am-7:00pm. You can tour the place and learn about its history if you don’t find a service going on. If you do find a service you can attend it to hear the church organs playing.
5. Watch a Game of Rugby at Ernest Wallon Stadium
If you’re a sports fan then watching one of the world’s best rugby team play should be something that excites you. Stade Toulousain rugby club has many players in the France rugby team, and you can see them in action at the Ernest Wallon Stadium. Apart from all the action during the game, the cheering by club supporters creates and electric ambiance at the stadium that you’ll enjoy being a part of.
6. Taste Delicious French Cuisine
Many tourists now take culinary journeys to different parts of the world, and you cannot go to Toulouse or any part of France and not enjoy some amazing French gourmet meals, which the country is known for the world over. There are several guided food tours in Toulouse, you can pay for one of these to get to taste some of the best French foods.
Be sure to try the French opera cake, baguette sandwich, mousse au chocolat, escargots, and croissants. These are some of the popular foods in France.
7. Grab a Glass of Wine at Le Wine Bar
Apart from its good food, France is also known for its vintage wines. The best place to enjoy some of this good wine is at No.5 Wine Bar, which has since 2017 being voted the world’s best wine bar by Glass Wine List. This bar located at the center of Toulouse has over 3000 referenced wines you can try.
If you’ve €10,000 you don’t mind spending, you can order a small glass of one of the world’s rarest and oldest bottles of wine displayed in a glass cabinet at the bar. The place opens every day at 6pm.
8. Tour the Airbus Headquarters
The two largest airplane manufacturers in the world are Boeing and Airbus. You can visit the latter’s headquarters in Toulouse and can get to see how planes are made. The company gives a 90 minute guided tour of its facility, which will take you to the runways used to test the planes made, the production facility, hangar, etc.
Tickets: The tour costs £10.50 for adults and children pay £8.30. You’re not allowed to take photographs during the tour, and you must carry your passport for identification, otherwise, you’ll not be allowed to enter the Airbus headquarters.
Hours: Open 8am to 7pm every day except Sunday and bank holidays (also Dec 31 and Jan 2).
9. See Saint-Etienne Square and Cathedral
This square is located just outside Saint-Étienne Cathedral. Both are worth a visit and a stroll around the square. The Cathedral offers free entrance and you’ll want to go inside to see the medieval construction and gothic architectural style. It is called the unfinished church because of all the construction and changes that have been made to it over the years.
Around the square, there is a book market on Saturdays and it’s a nice place to sit to enjoy nice weather and do some people watching.
There is a lot more you can do in Toulouse which includes:
- Visiting Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Toulouse. It was built in the late 16th century and is the perfect place to take romantic walks.
- Watching a ballet or opera performance at Theatre du Capitole.
- Indoor skydiving at FlyZone.
- Watching the sunset at Quai de la Daurade.
- Enjoying a picnic at Jardin Japonais
The best way not to miss out on the top attractions in Toulouse is to get yourself a guide. The guide will point out the must-see attractions in the city.
You will be glad you go out of Paris to visit the wonderful city of Toulouse, France. With so many awesome things to do in Toulouse, it can easily fill 2-3 days of your France trip.
Have you been to Toulouse? Tell us about what things you loved in the city, in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.