Toulouse – La Ville Rose: A city guide

Toulouse has much to offer everyone, whether you are a sports fan, history buff or wine connoisseur!

Visiting the Pink City seems to be the easiest thing in the world. Just jump on the flight at London Gatwick and about two hours later you will find yourself at a modern airport suitable for a city the size of London.

The first thing you will notice on arrival in Toulouse are the Belugas. No, not the marine mammal; that would be ridiculous. Looking like a massive metal dolphin, the Beluga is an Airbus cargo plane.

Toulouse is not just famous for being one of the EURO 2016 hosting cities; it is also a renowned city of science and well known for its professional rugby team.

What’s in Toulouse?

If your travel comrades don’t happen to be keen on whoever will be getting through to the quarter-finals, there’s still a reason for them to travel along. There’s so much to do there!

Toulouse’s aviation museum “Aeroscopia” offers displays of the famous Concorde and many other air vehicles, while the Airbus factory presents the exciting chance to see how planes are built.

Aeroscopia aviation museum

The interactive aerospace museum Cité de l’espace showcases the Mir space ship (that was used for training), real satellites, an IMAX cinema (showing different films about space) and so much more.

Cité de l'espace

In addition to this, Toulouse boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St Sernin. If that doesn’t do it for you then the countless châteaus offering wine tastings and restaurants with brilliant French food should do the trick!

The buzz in the city

The Pink City is definitely buzzing with excitement over EURO 2016. The main attraction in the city seems to be the gigantic UEFA EURO 2016 sign just off the main square: Le Capitol. This is also being used as a resting stop by visitors and locals alike.

The three group matches and one round of 16 match will be hosted at the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse, the home of Toulouse Football Club.

Toulouse Stadium

This stadium was built in 1937 and has had two extensive renovations since – the latest in 1997. And it’s worth every penny!

The stadium has a sleek, modern feel and holds over 35,000 people, making it an excellent hosting venue for the tournament of the year.

The purple team

Toulouse Football Club were founded in 1937 and have gone through a turbulent history. In 1957 Toulouse FC won their only major trophy with a 6-3 victory over Angers SCO in the French Cup final. In 1967 Toulouse sold their players and merged with Paris’ Red Star.

The club were reformed in 1970 as l’Union Sportive Toulouse and in 1979 they regained their TFC identity. In the 1980s, Toulouse were a competitive force and even qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1986 under the hands of Daniel Jeandupeux and former Tottenham boss Jacques Santini.

Things seemed to be going well until 1994 when Toulouse were relegated. After this, the club moved between Ligues 1 and 2 before being relegated once again in 2000 after financial problems.

The club were restored to Ligue 1 after just two seasons after a long-term investment by president Olivier Sadran and coach Erick Mombaerts. In 2007 the team secured third place in Ligue 1 after Élie Baup became manager.

After 2007 and a beating by Liverpool at the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, the team has been hovering in mid-table but is still managing to stay in the French top flight.

Rugby masters

However, football is not the first thing that would come into most Toulousian minds when talking about sports. That has always been rugby.

Stade Toulousain is one of the finest rugby clubs in Europe and in third place in France, having won the Heineken Cup a record of four times in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

They were also the runners-up in 2004 against London Wasps and in 2008 against Munster. Stade Toulousain also proudly boast a record 19 French Championship titles.

This marvellous team is traditionally the main provider for the French national team. The club colours are red, black and white.

Although Stade Toulousain’s home stadium is Stade Ernest-Wallon, for larger fixtures the matches are moved to Stadium Municipal de Toulouse. In 2007 this stadium was used for numerous matches during the Rugby World Cup.

During the tournament

You will not struggle to find a good restaurant – it’s France! On pretty much every corner there is a potential evening meal or an afternoon croissant.

One of the most mouthwatering scenes in Toulouse is the Victor Hugo indoor market, which is about five minutes’ walk from the main square.

This is food heaven for anyone who truly appreciates French cuisine, with a wide selection of fresh ham, salami, cheese, fruit and veg and bread dominating the place. It’s also no issue to ask the meat merchant for a little taster of your favourite product.

In the evening there is a lovely atmosphere, often with a rally, strike, or concert taking place in the main square. The square is surrounded by dozens of bars offering an exhilarating buzz, good wine and beer.

For those feeling a bit lucky after their favourite team has won a match, visit Casino Barrière Toulouse. There is no other place with such style. Anyone can step in here and instantly feel like they are in a James Bond film.

Casino Barrière Toulouse features two restaurants; one upmarket, the other of average price, a theatre, a bar and obviously the casino. At the casino one can listen to great live jazz while trying their luck on the machines or behind a table.

The best way to finish off the night is with a glass of champagne and a small tray full of tasty macaroons in the bar area.

What else?

The warm climate is something Toulousians are definitely proud of, reminding visitors at every possible moment that Toulouse gets sun 95% of the time and rain 5%.

This should make all football fans going to the matches in Toulouse very happy, as after the game it’s not difficult to find a street bar and have a pint during a warm summer night.

Everything in Toulouse city centre is within walking distance but if you don’t fancy walking there is a brilliant network of public transport.

To get around in Toulouse there is a comprehensive bus network, a tram line and three metro lines (A, B, C). Tickets are €1.60 for an hour’s journey (up to three connections) but there are also one-, two- and three-day passes available for up to €10.50.

After reading this city guide, hopefully you’ll agree Toulouse should be on any list of places to visit this summer.

Why not visit the Pink City during the Euros in June, when the streets are buzzing with excitement and people are celebrating the tournament of the year 24/7!

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