On the banks of the Garonne river, stands Toulouse with the nickname, “La Ville Rose- the pink city” because of its great pinkish bricked buildings that gives the cityscape a look which cannot be compared with any other city. Toulouse will never fail to hook up curious minds with its riveting museums that explore the cosmos, prehistory, ancient art, the natural world, as well as art from the gothic period up to the impressionists. From the tips of dusky pink spires to its loudest bars, time spent in Toulouse truly has a rose-tinted sheen.
The UNESCO-listed Saint-Sernin Basilica is the largest Roman church in Europe. Completed in the 1100s, there is a large number of relics in the crypt, more than in any other church of France. The five-storey brick is a marvel of Porte des Miégeville, with a treasured romanesque sculpture portraying Lazarus and Dives above the door.
Place du Capitole
Travel in Toulouse is incomplete without one being drawn towards the square in front of the city hall. The city seems to gravitate towards this majestic pink-tinted palace that is older than it looks. There are fragments that goes back to the 1100s, and if you walk around to the rear of the Capitole you can see the building’s renaissance donjon. Go inside for a tour to gaze at the frescoes on the ceiling of the Salle des Illustres, and the heartwarming images in the Salle Gervais, where the 19th-century artist painted allegories of love, as this was the town hall’s wedding chamber.
Canal du Midi
Another UNESCO site Canal du Midi is not just a waterway, but a mind-boggling work of 17th-century engineering, a part of the 430-kilometre Canal des Deux Mers that linked the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. The Canal du Midi is a 240-kilometre-long waterway that begins in Toulouse and stretches to the Étang de Thau by the coastal city of Sète. It was ordered by Louis XIV and made by the genius Pierre Paul-Riquet, taking 15 years to complete. Walk or ride on the towpath next to its green waters and check out the old locks on a cruise.
Cassoulet is a delicious casserole, best eaten in winter. It’s a medley of meat including duck, goose, but mostly pork products like Toulouse sausages and skin. This is cooked down in a terracotta dish with large white haricot beans into a thick, rich broth, accompanied by red wine from Fitou or Corbières and you’ve got the perfect meal. The main component, Toulouse sausage, is one of southwest France’s great culinary contributions. It’s generously seasoned, meaty and completely free of additives.