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City Focus 

Top 5: Toulouse

Le Couvent des Jacobins. Image: Iwao Sasaki

Shanda Moorghen rounds up five of the best places to visit in the French city


Toulouse, also known as La Ville Rose due to the pinkish color of its historic buildings, is one of France’s most dynamic cities. As the fourth most populated French city, Toulouse has developed into a modern, student-friendly hub, home to the impressive campus of the University of Toulouse. However, contemporary Toulouse has preserved its historic charm and remains an iconic destination in Southern France.

Couvent des Jacobins
Le Couvent des Jacobins is a magnificent venue created in 1215 by Saint Dominique. Despite extensive damage during the French Revolution, the buildings — restored in the 1950s — are considered gems of Gothic architecture. Previously home to the University of Toulouse, the convent has a stunning garden that’s so peaceful that visitors can easily forget they’re in the middle of the city.

Cite de l’Espace
There are few immersive experiences as fascinating as a trip to La Cite de l’Espace in Toulouse. Branded as one of the biggest theme parks in the world dedicated to space and space travel, La Cite de l’Espace has full-scale models of rockets and space stations. Even if space isn’t usually your thing, the genius of the human mind displayed throughout the park is sure to capture your imagination.

Place du Capitole
Saying that the Place du Capitole is an important part of Toulouse culture would be an understatement. At the heart of the city, surrounded by lively bars and cafes, this huge square is a great place to come to watch the world go by, or snap up a bargain at an outdoor market. C’est magnifique!

Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden)
This landscaped garden is a peaceful, botanical oasis in the heart of the city, complete with tea pavilion, Japanese raked stone, fish pond garden and Oriental plants. It’s probably best appreciated in the autumn when the leaves turn a stunning range of golden hues.

Basilica of St Sernin
This beautiful church has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years, with construction first starting in 1080. The church is among the most impressive remaining Romanesque buildings and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1998 as part of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. The church contains three organs created by legendary organ-builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll, as well as spectacular mural paintings.


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