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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 Centre de l’Affiche is in the heart of the former industrial district, St-Cyprien, on the opposite bank of the River Garonne from the well-trodden sightseeing trails in Toulouse's old quarter. In this part of town, old warehouses and factories have been reclaimed as trendy housing and as edgy arts and performance venues. The Centre de l’Affiche is dedicated to poster, postcard, packaging and label art, and its huge collection offers a fascinating glimpse of how commercial graphic design and branding has evolved over the past two centuries. Pride of place goes to Toulouse Lautrec’s iconic poster of Aristide Bruant, the Belle Époque cabaret legend.
The first time I came to Toulouse - a long time ago, before I lived there - I wanted to see Saint Sernin straight away, all because of Claude Nougaro and his song "Toulouse", the most beautiful song ever written about the Pink City.
The Canal du Midi is equally at home in the city and in the fields. It loses itself in the countryside after crossing through Toulouse. Joggers, anglers, ramblers and cyclists all benefit from the tranquility and fresh air under the plane trees on its landscaped banks.