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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 people of Toulouse take their food seriously, and they are especially fond of the restaurants in the Marché Victor Hugo, where you can join them at Le Louchebem to sample the restaurant’s signature dish, La Gilbe, a platter of four different cuts of beef, for €50. You can whet your appetite first with a stroll round this huge emporium, which is packed with stalls selling pâté, seafood, cheese, charcuterie and, of course, meat. The chevaline section is a reminder that the French eat horsemeat with gusto. There are also lots of regional specialities, such as Toulouse sausage, cassoulet and confit de canard.
You can spend 24 hours in the Ax Valley when you set out from Toulouse! Take advantage of the 90 minutes separating us from the mountains to go skiing, walking, taste local produce, bathe in the thermal waters and meet local personalities. What a programme!