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Toulouse, called France’s pink city because of the rosy, glowing colours of its medieval brickwork – is a lively mixture of old and new. Renaissance mansions line the streets of the old town, where the campanile of the 12th century Basilique St-Sernin is an unmissable landmark, and graceful old bridges span the River Garonne. But Toulouse is also very much a 21st century city, as the capital of Europe’s aerospace industry and the home of Airbus Industrie. It’s a university town, so local life has a youthful edge. Toulouse is a gastronomic hub, and locals boasts that their take on cassoulet – a hearty casserole of beans, sausage, pork, and duck – is the finest that France has to offer, and is best enjoyed on a chilly autumn or winter’s day.
Main City Paris
Surface 811.6 km²
The Hôtel d'Assézat is a pink-walled Renaissance town mansion which houses the wonderful Bemberg Foundation collections. Under its archways it hides a small, unobtrusive, cool and shaded restaurant which can be a venue for cassoulet-featuring, vibrant and pleasant lunches on the terrace. This is one of Toulouse’s unmissable, magical destinations, yet it is not that well-known. (Everything you read here stays between us, alright? Don’t mention it to a soul!)
Hélene Vié’s unique boutique and fascinating mini-museum, La Maison de la Violette, is housed in a vintage barge moored on the Canal du Midi. Her charming establishment is all about celebrating the city’s emblem, the Toulouse violet, which gives the city’s football team its nickname – Les Violets. It is said that Napoleon’s soldiers first brought the flower to the city, and it now lends its delicate scent, flavour and colour to sweets, cordials, liqueurs, cakes and teas, all of which you can sample and buy here. A box of crystallised violets is an easy-to-carry memento of your visit to Toulouse, and a bottle of violet liqueur makes an original gift.
Creating the place where artists and the audience come together around new circus arts: that’s what La Grainerie has been doing for fifteen years already! In Balma, just next to Toulouse, the place hosts shows and circus companies, which have residencies.