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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!)
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 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.