Affectionately known as France’s pink city, Toulouse certainly puts a rose–colored tint on life. Housing ancient palaces, sumptuous local food, and a fine art selection to be seriously envied, the southern town is making a name for itself as something of a tourist hub. With scores of French people choosing to relocate to Toulouse every year, it’s unofficially the place to be in the Gallic country. Forget Paris; we’re getting into the southern way of life, once and for all.
If culture’s your thing, you’re bound to fall head over heels for the cultural charms of Toulouse. As well as boasting countless historical structures that are still in use today, the town hosts one of the most magnificent squares in all of France. The Place du Capitole is surrounded by buildings finished off in the town’s signature terracotta brick, giving the place its pinkish hue. While the buildings themselves are enough to fill your cultural quota for the day, the square goes one step further, housing its very own 18th century city hall. If you get a chance to take a peek inside, make a beeline for it; the sweeping marble staircases and intricate frescoes are not to be missed.
Continuing the 18th century trend present throughout different pockets of Toulouse, the town’s Musée des Augustins is well worth a visit. Having set up shop inside an old gothic convent, the museum is one of the oldest in the country, housing one of the most eclectic collections out there. While there is a great deal to be seen on the inside, be sure to take a peek at the medieval cloister and garden. Both are equally magical.
Markets are something of a French institution, and so it’s no surprise that Toulouse should boast a few of its own. While any of the covered markets in town are worth a peek, your attentions are perhaps best turned towards the Marché Victor Hugo, one of the biggest foodie markets around. With eighty-eight stalls, the market is a hotspot of French delicacies, boasting the very best of local produce. Although you can take a seat at any of the plush upper floor restaurants, picking your own produce by hand and preparing it yourself is the perfect way to really enjoy the offerings. Select your oysters and bubbly of choice and indulge in the spoils.
When it comes to wine, Toulouse is a fine wine mecca. As well as neighbouring some of the best wine producing regions in France (which boast a number of excellent wine tasting experiences), the town has its fair shares of wine bars. If you’re on the hunt for the best of the best, however, head to No.5 Wine Bar for your tipple of choice. Housing one of the most extensive wine collections in Europe, the bar has a well-earned reputation. If you’re going all out, grab a seat at the bar, order yourself a selection of gourmet tapas bites with a French twist, and start tasting.
Food is held in similar esteem to wine and throughout Toulouse; this is, after all, France. You can find any number of exquisite eateries in the posh city. Built inside a former 18th century building, Le Colombier is one of the most legendary restaurants in Toulouse, having garnered something of a reputation for itself. The cassoulet is the main attraction in the place; slow cooked for eight hours, the dish is every bit as good as you can imagine it to be. A reservation here will make for a delectable end to a day in Toulouse and instill a certain joie de vivre.