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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 City of Albi is dedicating a magnificent museum to the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, housed in the former bishop's palace adjoining the Cathédrale Sainte Cécile, it is the world's largest collection of drawings, sketches and posters by this great painter who was born in the 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.
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.