Toulouse is not necessarily the first place people think of when they plan a trip abroad. Not even if they plan to visit France. But Toulouse is a wonderful city to visit and well worth considering if you are planning a short break away. Here are my 5 reasons why you should visit Toulouse.
1 - Location
Toulouse is in the South West of France and this brings a lot of advantages. Being French it still has the benefits of being in France – culture, history, style, wine and people saying words you know at a speed you can’t follow. But the weather is better than more well know French cities further north, like say….Paris. Toulouse is roughly midway between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, although the feel leans more towards the latter than the former. It is also not far from Spain and the Pyrenees mountains that form the border.
2 - Size
If you choose to visit a city then you clearly are going because you want a place that will keep you entertained. It needs to be big enough to meet that expectation, yet big cities can be draining. Toulouse is that ideal compromise. A city that will keep you amused for a few days yet is manageable in size. Compact is good because it means you can walk around without endlessly taking public transport to get everywhere, and there is no better way to enjoy a place than by walking.
It is also a low-rise city, which means a notable lack of high rise buildings, certainly in the centre. This means that you can see out across the whole city to the hills beyond and that always gets a big thumbs up from me. Seeing a city in its natural setting, from edge to edge, gives you a sense of place. The lack of height also makes it a more human city, on a scale you can relate to rather than be dwarfed by
3 - Bricks
The bricks. It may seem an odd reason to want to visit a city but bear with me on this one. The centre of Toulouse seems to be made entirely of bricks. In particular, thin bricks with a pinky-red hue that gives the city a warm glow on a sunny day. It reminds you that you are definitely not at home. Not for nothing has Toulouse earned the nickname The Pink City.
4 - The vibe
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, and yet it is also a university city and during term time the place has a decidedly younger feel than many other places. It feels like a city with life, where things happen, people are busy doing things but enjoying themselves. It is also a city that doesn’t feel like it has sold its soul to the tourist devil, but instead is a place that you can watch going about its daily business. Yes there are tourists, but not oppressively so.
5 - It's easy to get to.
At less than two hours from London it is definitely a city you can visit for a short break. A variety of airlines fly there, including BA, Easy Jet and Ryanair, giving you options on times of day as well as there being flights daily. You can also take the train, something I can personally vouch for. A quick hop on the Eurostar to Paris and then it’s 4 ½ hours on a super-smart TGV train. This will be even less once they extend the high-speed line all the way to Toulouse from Bordeaux.
Some useful links for getting there if you decide to visit Toulouse.