Toulouse, La Ville Rose, with its softly glowing pinkish architecture, hipster-filled Universities and ancient monasteries may lose to its northern competitor Paris, or, to its southern opponent Riviera, in tourist popularity – but maybe this is for the best, as when you do visit Toulouse, you get the feeling that you are being let in on a secret.
Here are a dozen things why you should visit Toulouse!
1) The Old Town
In medieval times, Toulouse was an important artistic and intellectual centre. Toulouse’s economy and merchants prospered while trading, for example, Bordeaux wine, textiles and in particular a blue dye known as pastel – that is, in the times before indigo, another shade of blue, was imported from India – and the old town’s winding alleyways started to spread from the North-Eastern banks of River Garonne. The Old Town area is the definite tourist attraction of Toulouse, and here you can stroll around for days, popping into cafés, restaurants, galleries, shops and vintage stores as well as medieval monasteries, spectacular museums, basilicas and, when the sun starts to set over the glowing city, wine bars.
2) Musee des Augustins
21 Rue de Metz
One of the most spectacular attractions in Toulouse, and most spectacular museums I have ever visited, is the Musee des Augustins with its fine art collection ranging from the middle ages to the early 20th century. The Gothic style building dates from 1309 and served as a convent till the French Revolution. In 1795 the Augustine convent was secularised and opened as a museum making Musee des Augustins one of the oldest museums in France. The impressive sculpture collection is located in cloisters from the 14th century, and the monastery’s church hosts an art collection spanning from the 15th to the 16th centuries. There is also a collection of 17th and 18th-century master pieces, including, for example, Delacroix’s and Ingres’s works.
3) Chez Authié
25 Place de Dupuy
Toulouse is a definite foodie destination: the city’s culinary splendors draw inspiration both from the French and Spanish traditions. The city is abundant with cosy looking eateries and fancy restaurants so the choice is hard. One of the most memorable foodie finds was Chez Authié, established in 1882. This Parisian styled bistro offers you tasty tapas and classic French cuisine and you can either eat outside, absorbing the neighborhood’s cheery mood, or stay in, where the atmosphere is from the times of telephones and gramophones.
4) Cathédrale de Saint-Étienne
The pink Cathédrale de Saint-Étienne is situated just around the corner from Chez Authié, and is, in my opinion, the prettiest church in Toulouse. First mentioning of the cathedral is from 804 but the building has been modified and expanded at least in 1073 and then again in the 13th, 15th and 16th centuries, and most of the stained glass is from the 18th century. Basically, the cathedral is an architectural mess but achieves a stately harmony – don’t you think?
5) Vintage Shops
One of the things that amazed me the most in Toulouse, was the abundance of vintage shops. The styles and price range suits every wallet, and would my luggage restrictions allowed, I could have renewed my entire wardrobe in Toulouse. Easily.
You’ll see vintage shops everywhere near River Garonne, seek our especially area around Rue Peyrolières.
6) No 5 Wine Bar
5 Rue de la Bourse
After a vintage mayhem, one gets thirsty. Luckily there’s the No 5 WINE BAR, which
- was elected as the Best Wine Bar in Europe by The World of Fine Wine
- they serve wines and champagnes from self-service taps
Need I say more?