TOULOUSE (La Ville Rose)
Toulouse is an attractive, fast growing, historic city with a great deal of character and charm. It is the gateway to the Pyrenées Mountains, the natural border between Spain and France. It is often called La Ville Rose (the Pink City) because the buildings are mostly made of red brick as stones were hard to find in the area. Founded in the 4th century BC, the city has prospered and enjoyed periods of political independence. Today, it is committed to low-rise construction, while conserving and restoring its fine old public buildings and churches.
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France (behind Paris, Marseilles and Lyon) with a population of more than 390,000 inhabitants downtown, and 741,000 inhabitants in the greater urban district. It boasts the second largest university city (after Paris), with over 100,000 students. The first metro line (subway system) serving Toulouse center was opened in 1993, and the network is being expanded.There are extensive suburbs, which offer modern housing and large shopping centers for the ever-expanding Toulouse population.
Immediately surrounding the city is rich agricultural land. This region is best known for the locally produced gourmet specialties like magret de canard, foie gras and cassoulet, and there are also some very good local wines. The Canal du Midi, which runs through Toulouse, is famous for its delightful, shaded bicycle path. The Toulouse area is also renown for its fierce pursuit of the French rugby championship. Ardent rugby followers might try to convince you that the game originated in a local village, and it should be known as la souple.
Toulouse is a town for music lovers. L’Orchestre Symphonique du Capitole de Toulouse is part of the international scene. It also has an opera house with opera, dance and ballet companies. There are several concert halls including an 18th century hexagonal edifice and a newly built theater. Quite a number of organ concerts are held throughout the area’s centuries’ old churches. One of the principal musical events of the year would be the series of piano concerts at the Jacobins in September; the concert pianists are world-renowned and the acoustics perfect in this 12th century cloister. There are several established museums and a new Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art) complex, which opened in 2000.Toulouse competes in various high technology industries such as aerospace, aviation, telecommunications, and electronics.
Useful Web Sites
- Mairie de Toulouse: One can obtain maps, a list of main events in the city, a list of employers in the area, and other links to more specific websites. You can find parks and facilities mapped here too. For example tennis courts, pools (piscines)
- Comité départemental du tourisme: Presents the main touristic attractions of the Haute Garonne, gives a list of tourist offices and phone numbers, cultural events, offers a quiz to test knowledge of the area.
- Official site of the academy of Toulouse for education and schools: presents school curricula, calendars, and links to primary and secondary school web sites - including Lycée Internationale Victor-Hugo (Victor Hugo International High School).
- Toulouse Airport: All about flights in and out of Toulouse.
- Train schedules: Provides information about regional trains and the part of the metro that goes between Toulouse Arenes and Colomiers using the ter train.
- Tisseo: Map of the current metro and bus lines, schedule and information about the new lines.