Discover ‘La Ville Rose’ on your French Motorhome Holiday
Sitting between the Garonne River and UNESCO world heritage site Canal du Midi, Toulouse is a modern city with strong roots in the past. A lack of heavy industry prevented it from being a target during the Second World War, leaving the medieval architecture and winding cobbled streets intact.
The bricks of these unique buildings hold a pink tinge, thought to come from the iron in the clay on the edge of the Garonne River. As the sun sets, the dusk light make the bricks appear to glow red, hence the name ‘La Ville Rose’.
Amongst this rosy architectural palette, you will discover doors, shutters and even lampposts painted blue. The city once made its fortune on the back of its woad crop. The leaves of this yellow flowering plant create a soft, blue grey dye, a popular colour once worn by the rich and successful upper classes. It is still evident today in the streets of Toulouse, and in a number of handmade items available as you wander around the city, from cosmetics to hand dipped silk.
Things to do in Toulose
Start with a trip to the Office de Tourisme for a one-day tourist pass. This not only gives you free access to many of the Toulouse museums, it includes reduced rates for other city centre attractions and free travel on local transport.
While you are at the tourist office, look out for the crowd waiting to take the next walking tour of the city. From the Romanesque basilica of Saint Sernin to the deconsecrated Roman Catholic Jacobins Covenant, the tour will show you many of the important points in Toulouse history.
Avid foodies won’t be disappointed by the many food markets, tea rooms and coffee houses on offer. On the outskirts of Toulouse sits the village of Castelnaudary, birthplace of the famous French dish Cassoulet. Goose and duck make a regular appearance on Toulouse menus, as does the local saucisse. Sweet lovers will also find something to please in a wide array of syrups, liquors and candies flavoured with violet.
Finally, the Canal du Midi is a popular destination for cyclists seeking to get away from busy traffic and petrol fumes. Toulouse is a very cycle friendly city and has a number of great cycle routes to explore. If you haven’t brought your bicycle, make use of the ‘VeloToulouse’ a cycle hire scheme with hire stations scattered across this beautiful city.