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Travel Toulouse – The Beautiful Pink City

Toulouse, the forth largest city in France, is nicknamed the “pink city” or in French “La Ville Rose”. Its name comes from the distinctive rose-colored brick buildings of the city. In the magical hours of dawn and dusk, these buildings glow pink. Get your cameras ready for this picturesque sight!

Toulouse - The Pink City
Travel Toulouse – The Pink City / Photo by Julien (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Toulouse is located in the South-Western part of France. Just a stone throw away from the Spanish border and Mediterranean Sea. Its warm & sunny climate climate is inviting, just like the Toulouse locals!

“Blue-Gold” & The Wealthy Toulouse Merchants

In the Middle Ages, Toulouse was one of the wealthiest cities in France. Believe it or not but it was the woad (pastel) plant that made this city rich. The leaves of this plant yielded a blue dye that the locals sold all over Europe. They nicknamed this plant “Blue Gold” & the wealthy woad merchants built magnificent mansions, many of which are still standing today!

However the Woad industry ended when the Europeans discovered India and South-East Asia. Toulouse could not compete with the cheaper and better dyes of the Far east & the “blue-gold” industry of Toulouse came to an end.

Hôtel de Montval - Travel Toulouse
One of the mansions (hotels) built by the Blue Gold merchants in Toulouse
Photo by Frédéric Neupont (CC BY 2.0)

Toulouse Travel Tips

Toulouse is great place to visit even though it is a major industrial city. It is a city with an exceptional historical past that offers the tourist with plenty to do and see. Here you will find beautiful architecture and great museums housed in magnificent historical buildings & abandoned industrial sites. Wherever you stroll in “La Ville Rose”, its past and present will charm you.

The major places to visit in Toulouse:

Saint -Sernin Basilica

Saint-Sernin Basilica  is the largest Romanesque church in the Europe. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. View it from both the inside and out. Admire the exquisite art and craftsmanship created many centuries ago. It is awe-inspiring! The church is open everyday and entrance is free of charge. However for a small fee you can enter the apse and crypt, which is highly worthwhile.

Place du Capitole

Vist the amazing Capitole building, built in the 17th century. Today it functions as the official Toulouse Town Hall and the Capitol Theater. The outside of the building is stunning but the true beauty of the Capitole is within! Entry is FREE and a visit inside is a MUST!

Toulouse -  Place du Capitole
Travel Toulouse – Place du Capitole / Photo by Tourisme en Occitanie (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Firstly you will notice the opulence of the building when you see the grand staircase, decorated with large colorful paintings and gold-trimmed embellishments. It is stunning and a feast for the eyes.

After climbing the stairs like royalty, you will enter a stunning room. Here you will view beautiful paintings on the walls and ceiling. These were painted by the Toulouse born artist Paul-Jean Louis Gervais  .

The next room, called La salle Henri-Martin, displays massive paintings by the post-impressionist, Toulouse-born painter Henri Martin.

The Henri Martin Room in Capitole, Toulouse
The Henri Martin Room in Capitole, Toulouse / Photo by Antoine Montulé [CC BY-SA 4.0]

The third room is named the Hall of the Illustrious. The Toulouse-born architect Paul Pujols designed this magnificent room. Today marriage ceremonies are conducted here. What a magical setting!

The area around the Place du Capitole is buzzing with activity. Trendy cafes, restaurants and great shops line the nearby streets. It’s a happening area so check it out!

Jacobins Monastic Esemble

Jacobins Monastic Ensemble is a Roman Catholic church built in the 13th & 14th centuries. It is a lovely example of Southern Gothic architecture. Go inside and view this unusual looking building. The slender columns supporting the roof resemble palm trees!

UNESCO World Heritage Site -Canal du Midi

Do a day trip on the UNESCO World Heritage Site -Canal du Midi. This canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean sea (240 kms long). It is an incredible accomplishment of 17th century engineering. Press here of great things to do.

Travel Toulouse - Canal du Midi
Travel Toulouse – Canal du Midi / Photo by Image by Việt Anh Nguyễn from Pixabay 

Historical Mansions – Magnificent Architecture

Visit the historical mansions (called hotels) by the wealthy “blue gold” merchants. Many of the mansions are privately owned but their courtyards are open to the public. Two of the mansions worthwhile visiting are Hotel d’Assezat (which houses the fantastic art museum -Fondation Bremberg ) and Hotel Dahus… Pop in and check them out!

Travel Toulouse - Hotel d’Assezat (Fondation Bremberg )
Hotel d’Assezat (Fondation Bremberg ) \ Photo by Frédéric Neupont (CC BY 2.0)

Travel Toulouse for the Art

If you are a lover of art, then there are TWO ‘must see’ art museums in Toulouse. Both museums are housed in the most stunning buildings as well.

Musee des Augustins

This museum is located in the city center of Toulouse. The building itself is magnificent. It is a centuries old Gothic convent built in a style typical of Southern France. The museum houses an impressive collection of Romanesque sculpture and paintings from the 18th up to the 20th centuries. There is a wonderful collection of Henri Martin paintings here which is an absolute highlight! Press here for more information.

Travel Toulouse -  Musee des Augustins
Travel Toulouse – Musee des Augustins / Photo by rhodeson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Fondation Bremberg’s fantastic Impressionism Art Collection

The Fondation Bemberg art museum is housed inside one of the 16th century historical mansions built by the wealthy “blue gold” merchants. The building itself is worth visiting and admiring! It is exquisite.

The Bemberg art collection is wonderful. There are around 14 rooms and each one with a different theme. The first floor predominantly showcases a Renaissance European collection. The second floor has a world-class collection of impressionism and post- impressionism paintings. Here you will see paintings of Monet, Morisot, Caillebotte & many others. There is also a fantastic collection of Pierre Bonnard paintings!

For more information about location, tickets and visiting hours, press here.

Albi – A Wonderful Day trip from Toulouse

Albi is a charming small city only one hour from Toulouse. One of Albi’s claim to fame is that the post-impressionism painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born here.

Albi is a wonderful place to visit. It is no wonder that it is listed as a World Heritage Site. The maze-like old town is fully pedestrianized making it an ideal place for exploring by foot. The old town offers wonderful architecture & medieval houses. Like the city of Toulouse, the buildings in Albi are built from a rose colored stone that glow pink at certain times of the day.

Albi historical district
The Pink Glow of Albi – Photo by Caroline Léna Becker  (CC BY 2.0)

If you are a fan of art and Toulouse-Lautrec, the Toulouse-Lautrec museum is a MUST! This beautiful museum offers an outstanding collection of Toulouse-Lautrec artworks. The collection includes 219 paintings, 31 posters, over 560 drawings and more than 180 lithographs.

While perusing the artworks, there are information panels enriching the viewer’s experience. The first few rooms present his early artworks, depicting those that he loved, his family, friends and animals. The later rooms, bring the visitor to Toulouse-Lautrec’s world in Montmartre, Paris, the nightclubs, the bars and brothels. It is a wonderful museum.

For more information about this Musee Toulouse-Lautrec, press here.

Toulouse-Lautrec Museum - Albi France
Musee Toulouse-Lautrec – Albi France

Looking for a guided tour in Toulouse, Albi & the surrounding towns, see the links below:

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