My Guide to Toulouse

If you were coming to Toulouse, this is what I would tell you and where I would take you.

(Click the links to read my posts about each place. If you only have a short time in Toulouse, I’ve marked with an * what you can do in 1 day.)

Sights

  • Capitole – The Place du Capitole is the heart of Toulouse and a good starting place. Don’t miss going inside the Capitol building! (The tourism office is right behind the Capitol and worth going inside for a map of places to see.) *
  • Saint Sernin Basilica – Probably Toulouse’s most famous church and definitely one of the oldest. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. *
  • Couvent des Jacobins – Home of the Jacobin monks and final resting place of Thomas Aquinas. This is a must-see for its breathtaking ceiling. *
  • St Etienne Cathedral – One of the most architecturally interesting churches I’ve ever been in; it’s really 2 seperate churches combined. The church is in one of the nicest areas of Toulouse.
  • Allées François Verdier – This typically Toulousan tree-lined boulevard and green space is right behind the Cathedral and leads to 2 gardens. Worth strolling down on a sunny day.
  • St Pierre des Chartreux – This is not a famous church, but I included it because it is by far one of my favorites. If you have the time, it is worth seeing!
  • La Garonne – La Garonne is the river that flows through Toulouse. The view of Toulouse from the bridges spanning the river, with the church towers reaching through the trees, is timeless. Walking along the river also provides great views of the Pont Neuf (Toulouse’s famous bridge). The best part about walking along the river is that you will be serenaded the whole way – the young people of Toulouse gather along the river to hang out and play guitar. *
The ceiling of the Jacobin's

The ceiling of the Jacobin’s

Museums

  • Musée des Agustins – Housed in an old convent which in itself is beautiful, this art museum is the oldest in France behind the Louvre. There are art and sculptures spanning several centuries.
  • Musée Saint Raymond – This museum, across the street from St Sernin, chronicles the Roman past of Toulouse and the region. If you are interested in history, this is a great one. Bonus: English adioguides are free.
  • Musée de Vieux Toulouse – This museum is dedicated to the history and identity of La Ville Rose. BUT it’s only open May 2 – Nov 3. Unfortunately I planned to go to museums in the winter, so I missed this one.
Statue at Musee des Agustins

Statue at Musee des Agustins

Shopping

The area behind and around Capitole to Esquirol is the main shopping thoroughfare in Toulouse. Notable streets:

Rue d’Alsace Lorraine – A wide, long street filled with endless stores. Monoprix and one of the Zara’s are located here. The Galeries Lafayette is not on this street, but is visible from it.

Rue Saint Rome –  The stores are cheaper than the others in this area, but they are lower quality. You can still find some good options however, and if you want cheap but good scarves/hats/gloves, head to the C&A on the corner.

Rue de Metz – This street has bigger department stores and also non-clothing stores.

Place St Etienne – The most upscale shopping in Toulouse is here, such as Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Christian Lacroix, Montblanc and multiple jewelers.

The area around Carmes is a good place for a unique shopping trip. There are many smaller boutiques scattered around in this area.

Nightlife

Toulouse is a university town, and the almost unbelievable number of bars confirms this. Unfortunately I never got to participate in Toulouse nightlife. (Stuck in the suburbs.) However I can tell you that Place St Pierre, at the end of the St Pierre bridge, is lined with popular bars such as Chez Tonton, many of which are rowdy at noon!

Day / Weekend Trips

  • St Cirq Lapopie and Rocamadour – St Cirq is a member of the prestigious Most Beautiful Villages of France. Rocamadour is an ancient site of pilgrimage clinging to a cliff. Both are beautiful and the charming countryside only adds to the trip. Visiting both is doable in 1 weekend.
  • Carcassonne – A remarkably well preserved, walled Medieval town. Also a UNESCO World Heritage sight. If you want to time travel, come here!
  • Albi – A beautiful little town with one of the most stunning cathedrals in all of France.

Getting there: If you don’t have a French boyfriend willing to drive you around to these places, don’t fret. There are trains to Carcassone and Albi. For St Cirq and Rocamadour, there are plenty of tourism agencies that take tour buses there (although you will be surrounded by gray hair). If that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, then you can rent a car.

St Cirq Lapopie

St Cirq Lapopie

Transportation

Toulouse has an extensive metro, train, tram, and bus system. There is also Toulouse Velib, the ride and leave bicycle program popular in Paris.

If you will be staying 2 months or more, I recommend getting a Carte Pastel. It’s a personal card that can be purchased at the bigger metro stops that for only €10 a month gives you unlimited rides on the metro, tram and buses. Quite a deal!! It’s €30 for the first month and you have to bring a government approved headshot (don’t worry, these photo booths are everywhere), but it’s really worth it.

For more information: http://www.tisseo.fr/les-tarifs/obtenir-une-carte-pastel

Weather

I’m here to tell the world the truth about Toulouse’s weather! It’s cool in late August (pants, jacket and scarf) and very cold in the winter. (I’m just telling you my personal experience. Everyone assures me that this is “unseasonable”. But it’s been “unseasonable” for 4 months now…) It rains frequently in the Fall and can be very windy – the public parks close because of wind. If you’re coming during the late Aug-Dec time frame, leave your shorts at home.

(Tip: Toulouse inhabits this weird, impermeable bubble impenetrable by weather-gauging instruments. I check the weather on the Weather Channel and French Meteo, but both are always off. If you are checking the temperature in Farenheit, subtract around 6 degrees. If there is a 20% chance of rain, it will definitely rain.)

______________________________

If you are planning on visiting Toulouse or will be living here, please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! I can also answer questions on Paris and travelling around Southwest France. Leave a comment!

64 Responses to My Guide to Toulouse

  1. Kasia R says:

    Definitely going to try to visit Toulouse before I leave France. Thanks for all your tips, stories, and pictures!

  2. Angelica says:

    This is super informative and all-around lovely guide. Thanks for taking the time to write such a concise, yet detailed post!

  3. Pablo says:

    Hi,

    I am actually planning to live in Toulouse next year. Do you have an idea is the unemployment is high right now? or if there are some companies based there?
    I read is a inexpensive city but the quality of life is good… do you think so?

    Cheers

    • Hi Pablo, I really have no idea about unemployment right now, sorry! Airbus is based in Toulouse,and there are many other aeronautical engineering type companies, so if you have a background in engineering or math or science there are many options. Mucha suerte

  4. Tanya says:

    Do you have any hints on finding an apartment to rent?

    • Hi Tanya, I’m so sorry I just saw this! I actually lived with my fiancé’s family in Toulouse, so unfortunately I can’t give you any tips on finding housing. Best of luck though!

    • Karla says:

      Hi Tanya, did you end up finding a good site to rent? I am doing an internship in Toulouse next summer and need all of the advice I can get. Thanks!

      • andread says:

        Hi Karla,

        I am doing an internship this upcoming summer, and am wondering how you went about finding yourself a place to rent?
        Thanks in advance🙂

  5. Tiffany says:

    I am visiting toulouse soon! This was very helpful! Thank you!!!

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks Emily; very informative. I did not know Toulouse is that cold in winter. Also, should add that it is a good place from which you can travel to Lourdes (2 hours by train!).

  7. Jim Bear says:

    We are planning to move to somewhere near Toulouse and are keen to find out what ongoing activities there are like choirs, drama groups, alternative therapies etc

    Also want to know more about the gay scene in Toulouse

    Any suggestions welcomed

    Simon

    • Hi Simon, I’m afraid I won’t be much help with all those things. There are many English speaking expat forums for foreigners living in France though. I’ve found many different things through those websites before. Good luck!

  8. Peter Aughney says:

    Hey, I just want to thank you for the information..will be starting the first leg of my first trip to France in Toulouse and you made me feel this was the right place to do it! Look for me on the bus with a bunch of grey hair people or in a bar after afterwards if it drives me to drink not to have a rental..I’m now up to try to out shoot your pic’s of doorways;-)
    Peter
    San Francisco

  9. Daniela says:

    HI!
    I’ll be studying in toulouse from january to june next year and I was wondering about the weather, is it really that cold all the time? My worry is if it’s uncomfortable, I’m looking for a pleasant city to live in and a bad weather can definetly be a problem.
    Thank you for the blog, it’s been very helpful🙂

    • Hi Daniela, I definitely recommend Toulouse! The weather is really nice compared to other places, especially somewhere like Paris. You have to keep in mind I’m from Georgia, my idea of cold changed after spending winter months in Poland. I would still say that it can get very windy here, but that can’t be a deal breaker. Good luck in Toulouse!

  10. aicha says:

    hi! this was helpful! I am planning to come to France the next year for a long stay and am confused between Toulouse and Strasbourg. what do u suggest?

  11. Lori says:

    Hi –
    My husband and I are relocating from the US to Toulouse. We would like to live in the city. Do you have any thoughts on areas we should focus on?

    Thanks

    • Hi Lori, sorry for my late reply. Well I personally really liked the Carmes area. It was very quiet and peaceful and had a stately air to it. It might be an expensive area, but I think to live full time it would be worth it since, by American standards, the other parts of downtown could be too cramped or noisy. Good luck with your big move!

  12. Hey there,
    Love your little blog! I’m planning on road tripping down there around late May. I know that the churches are fantastic but personally I’m looking for something a little different and out of the ordinary, do you have any suggestions?
    (Yes I also plan on seeing Carcassonne as well!)

    Sincerely,
    Matt

    • emily says:

      Hi Matt! I’m glad you’re planning on going to Carcassonne! Another great place to see is Rocamadour, a village carved into the face of a rocky cliff. For something out of the ordinary, if you have time I would recommend stopping in Narbonne and eating at Chez Bebelle. It’s in the market place and when you order, the owner (a former rugby star) calls out your order to the neighboring stalls who launch the meat to him from across the marketplace. The most unique restaurant I’ve been to! As far as out of the ordinary in Toulouse, I’m coming up empty, sorry:/

  13. Giovanna says:

    Hi Emily, I loved your blog. its so good to read the tips about Toulouse!
    I am going to live in September to work. and I would love to ask you something.
    My work will be at “Boulevard de Mediterrànee” Street , close to Saouselong subway station. Do U think its a good neighboord to live? because I dont want to get subways everyday , only walk to my work to save some money if you understand me.
    thank you so much ,
    Giovanna

    • emily says:

      Hi Giovanna, I’m glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for letting me know!

      Unfortunately I’m not familiar with that station or part of town at all, so I can’t help you too much. I can say that the Basso Cambo end of Line A is not the best area, but I’m not familiar with Line B. I’m sorry I can’t be more help. Good luck with your move!

  14. amacwardle says:

    Good ideas…thank you for you blog.

  15. Carol Jensen says:

    Dear Emily,
    We are going to Toulouse soon and are wondering how to mange cell phones and internet. Also, do most museums have English touring audiofiles? Also, do you recommend a day/weekend trip to the Pyrennes? Is there a village or national park to enjoy? Also, what about a day trip to the CroMagnon Caves? So many questions

  16. Daniel says:

    Hi Emily, I’m a journalist doing a story on various European cities including Toulouse. Would I be able to email you some questions?

    • emily says:

      Hi Daniel, I’m sorry for my incredibly late reply – I think the WordPress app had some bugs because yours and many other comments have just showed up today. I’m sure your research is already over, but any time in the future you can certainly email me any questions you’d like about France.

  17. Heidi says:

    Hi, my husband and I are thinking about moving back to Europe and Toulouse is on the list of possibilities. Hes a EU citizen. We currently live in So California and Im more concerned about the weather than anything else. What do you mean by *very* cold in the winter? does it snow? how often? is it dark and muggy like in northern France? We lived in Brussels and I really disliked the horrible darkness half of the year, I really dont want to do that again:/

  18. Susan Jackson says:

    Thanks for your blog, so helpful!! Going to look st Paris and others by you-I would like to do something other than central Paris!!

  19. Pingback: Day Job OptionalI Barely Got To See Toulouse… But I Won’t Let That Happen To You |

  20. Baldwin Bobe says:

    Hi emily,
    I am visiting Toulouse from July 2, 2016 through July 6th. I think your recommendations are great. We will need a hotel for me and my wife. I am thinking we would need something close to train station as we will be traveling from Paris via train unless you have a better suggestion? In addition to visiting the sights of the area I am interested in trying to track my ancestry. My best information is that the LaBauve family lived in Foix in the 1700s. I am looking for Francisco LaBauve or his son Thomas LaBauve or other information about the LaBauve surname. My French is limited to a very few words so if you could find a student that would do research for me I can pay for their time to assist me. You have any suggestions how I might find a student and go about my research of the LaBauve family?
    Respectfully
    Baldwin Bobe

  21. izzy says:

    hi im doing a report for sophomore year and tbis was very ghelpfik

  22. sheraz says:

    bonjour, i want to know about toulouse.

    I am currently living in colmar. And want to move to Toulouse or bordeaux. Can you tell me which is the better choice to live, work and for (study my son)

  23. Lip says:

    I’ll be using your tips on the city tomorrow, too bad you’re not living there anymore i would have so much more fun with someone showing me around. Do you know of any english speaking groups that meet up there sometimes?

  24. andread says:

    Hi Emily,

    Do you know what neighborhood would be fun to live in near the veterinary school (Close to airbus campus) that’s also close to “the action” of the city? I’ll be going to the veterinary school to do research this upcoming summer, but want to be in a busier part of town.
    Thank you!

  25. Aman says:

    Hi ,

    I am visiting France for the uefa euros 2016 . This will be my first time in France and i would need some help from you since the two matches i will be attending will be at Toulouse and Marseille.
    Please do help me with a good city (and not too expensive) to stay in the southern/eastern part of France

    • emily says:

      Hi Aman, thanks for stopping by! Why not simply stay in Toulouse? It’s a great city and also a good base to visit other cities in the southwest. If you want to stay in between these 2 cities, I recommend Narbonne. It’s beautiful and clean.

    • Baldwin says:

      Thanks for your time and effort to put this out. It is useful to those of us visiting Toulouse.

  26. BJ says:

    What is the best area to stay for accessing the busy part of Toulouse? We want to walk and live the vibe of the city for a few days in September.

  27. Theresa says:

    Hello Emily!

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ll move to Toulouse in May and would liem to know which parts if the city you coudl recommend to move to, maybe some where I can meet some students as well. And obviously it shouldn’t be too far outside so I can make most of my time.

    Thanks!

  28. Guilherme Flora says:

    Hi Emily!

    My name is Guilherme and I’m from Brazil. I will be living in France starting next semester, and I’ll live in Toulouse.
    I’m student and I would like to know more about the student life in Toulouse. Are the people receptive to international students? What’s the best neighborhood to live in (knowing that i’m a student)? How is the nightlife in Toulouse?
    Are there any social networks through which I can meet other people in Toulouse?

    Finally, I love a type of dance called Forró (a Brazilian dance), and I would to know if there are any classes of Forró.

    Thanks!

    • emily says:

      Hi Guilherme! Unfortunately I’m not much help there as I lived in the suburbs (and was gone many weekends) so I don’t know much about the nightlife of downtown Toulouse. There’s a place called La Tantina which is pretty awesome though! But don’t worry it’s a university town so there’s a lot of nightlife and people are very welcoming of students and international people. Have fun!

  29. Luzzia says:

    Hi!
    I am visiting Toulouse fro Sept to Oct! This is very helpful!!! Thank you!!
    I am just wondering, I am from a subtropical country, always thought the weather in Toulouse might be similar to my country’s, but after reading this I am not so sure.
    Would you mind me asking what did you usually wear during the Autumn??
    Thank you🙂,

    • emily says:

      Hi Luzzia, I’d recommend typical Fall things. Pants, layers on top, and light scarves. It’s not cold but I was just surprised that it really wasn’t what I expected from the South of France. Enjoy your trip!

      • Lucy says:

        Hi Emily,
        I was wondering if there are any stores like Primark in Toulouse!
        Thanks,
        Lucy

      • emily says:

        Hi Lucy, well Primark is actually opening there next year I just saw! In terms of getting everything (clothes, accessories, makeup, stuff for the house, etc) I always like Monoprix

  30. Lisa says:

    Salut Emily!

    I’ve been studying your blog fairly religiously for the past month, because I am moving to Toulouse for 8 months for the TAPIF Program. Needless to say, I am excited but also very nervous. My main concern is that I am still trying to figure out a place to live, can you give me advice on any neighborhoods that are close to transportation but also safe/has a lot to do?

    Thank you for your time!
    Lisa

    • emily says:

      Hi Lisa, congratulations on TAPIF! I lived in the suburbs, but if you’re going to stay downtown I would say steer clear of the train station and right along the canal. Anything around Capitole and the University should be fine and also have lots of things to do. Good luck!

  31. Patty Dunn says:

    Hi Emily,
    We will be on a barge cruise on the Canal du Midi the first week in September and then in Toulouse for a week. All the online weather says it will be mid 80’s, do you think it will actually be colder and we will need pants not shorts?
    Are there any special fabric shops for quilters?
    Thanks!!

    • emily says:

      Hi Patty, I would just bring layers to be safe🙂 I think when I was there it was unusually chilly. I don’t know about quilting shops since I’m not a quilter, but I have no doubt you can find one!

  32. Cynthia says:

    Hi Emily, I will be working in Toulouse this December. I’m trying to book an Airbnb but I’m frustrated with finding a place that isn’t out in the middle of no where. I know you said their public transit is extensive, but is it better to be closer to a tram or metro station as opposed to a bus station? My rehearsals are by the Montaudran station and there are only about 2 buses I can find to take there. I need to split my time up between the city center and the Mountaudran station area. Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks, Cynthia

    • emily says:

      Hi Cynthia, I often took the bus to return home from work and they seem to be pretty reliable as far as buses go (there’s still traffic and such). I’d say if there are bus stops nearby then you won’t have trouble getting to your rehearsals or a potential living place. I always prefer trams and metros, but that’s not specific to Toulouse🙂

  33. You completed various good points there. I did a search on the issue and found a good number of folks will go along with with your blog.

  34. Rebecca Chong says:

    Hi I plan to go to Toulouse in the second week of January, do you think it will still be beautiful to visit then in winter?🙂

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