14 Best things to do in Toulouse, France

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Dina

Toulouse (or Toulouse in French) is the capital of Occitania and is often called “the Pink City”. I went to Toulouse for 3 days last spring. It’s a beautiful city with lots of people. It’s the fourth biggest city in France and has over 500,000 people. It’s also the biggest student town after Paris! But is it worth visiting Toulouse?

TOULOUSE AT A GLANCE 

Let’s discover some things about Toulouse and if it is worth putting this city on your bucket list.

  • If you are looking for a beautiful french city, not very small, not very big but with great nightlife, it might be a good choice.
  • They are many monuments and things to see but definitely is not Monmarte and you will not see anything similar to the amazing Eiffel tower.
  • The architecture is something more than special. Toulouse is called the Pink City due to the red-pink terracotta bricks that are used on most buildings in the center.
  • It has preserved its medieval character but at the same time it is also the European center of the aerospace industry
  • Take an extra sweater: I visited during the spring (end of April-beginning of May) and unfortunately not only was it cold but it snowed!

6 BEST THINGS TO DO IN TOULOUSE

Let’s explore the best things that you do in this city.

#1. Admire the Place du Capitole

Place du Capitole in Toulouse

The Place du Capitole in the central square is the most popular sight of Toulouse and certainly the first thing you will see in the historic center. Currently is the home of the city hall and the theater. This trademark of the city is the first thing that I recommend seeing in Toulouse. The square is full of cafes and bars, so if you visit it when the weather is nice it’s worth sitting down for a coffee or an ice cream.

Place du Capitole ceilings

💎 My Pretty Travels Tip: the food offered by the restaurants in this area is not so good abd very expensive! Avoid the restaurants located on this square and try one of the restaurants I reccoment below.

#2. Explore the Basilique Saint-Sernin

Saint Sernin toulouse

The Basilica of Saint-Sernin is another point of interest that you can visit for free in Toulouse. It is dedicated Saint Saturnin, s who died in 257 AD. The story tells us that he was tied from the legs to a bull and dragged to Toulouse and died on what is now the rue du Taur “Bull street. Today his remains are available for pilgrimage in this church. What else do you need to know? This sight is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture and is one of the stops that pilgrims make on the famous El Camino de Santiago.

#3. Have an amazing culinary experience at the Victor Hugo market 

victor hugo market

The Victor Hugo market is one of the best places to eat something traditional at a great price. You can find in this market vegetables, fruits, meat but also many restaurants on the upper floor. Quality is great and that’s the reason that you will it full of locals. It is very common for french people to take a long lunch break, enjoy some great fish pairing it with some wine.

Vicot Hugo market is upon only until the afternoon, so if you are planning to visit it, go better during lunchtime, max. 13.00

The menus of the day are in French but don’t be shy to ask for some help from the waiters. Surprisingly most of the waiters are young and speak some basic English so you won’t have a problem. What impressed me I would say is the wine! You will see that everyone takes a glass of wine with their meal. And why not; France is famous for its wines…

#4. Visit the hidden gem of Couvent des Jacobins

Couvent des Jacobins is a monastery and a church with free entry as well and is located in the city center.  The church, built in 1229, is another of Toulouse’s unique attractions. It is worth noting that the pillars supporting the dome, look like palm trees. Also, the remains of Thomas Aquinas are in this church.

#5. Do cafe-hopping and explore the Toulouse restaurants 

eating in toulouse

Toulouse is buzzing with life and it would be a pity to leave without visiting at least some of the city’s cafes and enjoy the French cuisine! When I went it was very cold – snowing to be fair – so I had the opportunity to enjoy hot chocolates and soups in many beautiful places.

I loved Chapristea, a unique cat cafe! If you love cats, don’t skip this place that hosts over 20 cats. You are not allowed to chase or disturb the cats in any way the animals, but some are very friendly and come on their own!

La Molette is the restaurant that had the best french cuisine in Toulouse. Small, romantic – by reservation only – it has a fixed day menu of day with 3 or 4 dishes that you can choose from.

Milaaron was also a great excellent restaurant! Start with a cheese platter and let the kind chef guide you through the many choices of meat.

La Rosa Negra, it is a Spanish restaurant, very popular among locals, with tapas! Ever since i visited Seville i fell in love with tapas and Spanish wine. The service is fast and the salamis and cheeses are excellent.

For a perfect cocktail night go to Fat Cat – just a few meters away from the Capitol square.

#6. Do a day-trip to Carcassonne

carcassonne church

If you have more than 2 days in Toulouse, you can also visit Carcassonne. One of the most popular attractions in the South of France. You will think you have time-travelled to Middle Ages and some princess will come out of the castle!

Continuing our exploration of Toulouse, affectionately known as La Ville Rose (the Pink City), there’s an abundance of sights and experiences awaiting. This city, nestled by the River Garonne, is a treasure trove of culture, history, and beauty, making it a must-visit destination on your French itinerary.

#7. Stroll Along the Banks of the River Garonne

One of the most serene experiences in Toulouse is a leisurely walk along the River Garonne. The river’s banks offer picturesque views and a tranquil setting, perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape from the bustling city life. The Pont Neuf, Toulouse’s oldest bridge, offers a stunning backdrop, especially at sunset.

#8. Visit the Jardin des Plantes and Jardin Japonais

The Jardin des Plantes is a delightful botanical garden that offers a peaceful retreat. Nearby, the Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden) is a hidden gem that transports you to a tranquil, Eastern-inspired landscape. These gardens are perfect for a leisurely day out, surrounded by nature’s beauty.

#9. Explore the Musée des Augustins

Art enthusiasts must not miss the Musée des Augustins, home to a remarkable collection of sculptures and paintings. Housed in a former monastery, this museum exemplifies the Southern Gothic style and is a testament to Toulouse’s rich artistic heritage.

#10. Discover the Cité de l’Espace

For a change of pace, head to the Cité de l’Espace, a space-themed adventure park. This attraction is perfect for families and space enthusiasts, offering interactive exhibits and a glimpse into the world of space exploration.

#11. Enjoy a Day Trip Along the Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a perfect setting for a day trip. Whether you choose to bike, walk, or even take a boat tour, the canal’s scenic route, lined with plane trees, is a delightful experience.

#12. Admire the Basilique Saint-Sernin’s Palm Tree Pillars

Revisit the Basilique Saint-Sernin to specifically admire its unique palm tree-like pillars. This architectural feature adds to the basilica’s grandeur and is a fine example of Romanesque artistry.

#13. Visit the Quaint Quarter of De la Daurade

The charming neighborhood of De la Daurade is a must-visit. With its quaint streets and vibrant atmosphere, it’s a perfect spot to experience the local culture and enjoy the picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea.

#14. Explore the Pink Bricks of Le Capitole

Take a closer look at the iconic pink bricks that give Toulouse its nickname, La Ville Rose. The Capitole de Toulouse, with its stunning façade, is the best place to appreciate this unique architectural feature

WHERE TO STAY IN TOULOUSE 

The city has enough hotels, rooms and AirBnb so accommodation is not a problem. The average price for a double is €80 per night, but of course, you can find cheaper options.

Some good options are the hotels of Best Western and Mercure.

CONCLUSION: THE CHARM OF TOULOUSE

Toulouse, with its blend of historical charm and modern vibrancy, offers a plethora of activities and sights. From the serene banks of the River Garonne to the bustling streets of De la Daurade, each corner of this city tells a story. If you like art, history, or want a special French experience, Toulouse is a city that will charm and fascinate you.

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