Toulouse, France is the French city that borders Spain and also called the Pink City or in French Le Ville Rose. This wonderful city acquired its name from the many buildings in the city that have been built with pink bricks. Toulouse has much to offer backpackers touring the city from museums, natural attractions and, boasting the cosmos, the largest center in Europe, your trip here will be an eventful one. Let’s take a look at some of the top things to do when touring Toulouse.
Basilique Saint Sernin
The Basilique Saint Sernin is an ancient Roman cathedral that was constructed in the 11th century. It has been carefully preserved over the centuries and this makes it special because it holds a piece of architecture from every century. The church was dedicated to and named after a martyr by the name of Saint Saturninus (Sernin) who is buried in a tomb within the property. The cathedral is built in the shape of a tower and goes up 5 floors. The architecture both on the inside and the outside are magnificent sites to see.
The interior is uniquely detailed from the choir area that is surrounded by nine chapels, to the ambulatory which is adorned by 11th-century marble reliefs. The northern part of the basilica has a huge roman crucifix. There is a tomb that has a lot of ruins from ancient times. The basilica also has a tower located at the topmost of the building. The basilica regularly hosts exhibitions of modern religious art.
Le Château d’Eau, Toulouse
This was formerly a water tower that was later refurbished and converted into an art gallery. The place was initially born out of the fear of lack of water for the people of Toulouse. In 1817 a man name Charles Laganne donated money to the city so that the residents could have access to clean water.
The tower was completed and later produced water that was distributed to sixty thousand residents who lived in Toulouse at the time. The exterior is made of sandstone and comprises of a well-designed architecture. In the year 1870, the chateau was left unattended by the residents because it could not continue distributing water.
Sometime in April 1974, the chateau saw its conversion from a water tower to an exhibition of photography with the first exhibition showcasing Robert Doisneau’s work. The gallery showcases works from famous photographers.
Besides photography, the gallery also co-publishes books with monographs. These books showcase photographers’ biography that accompanies a brief bio of the photographer that accompanies their work. The chateau is normally buzzing with a myriad of activities from a resource center that has thousands of artists work in folders.
These galleries open daily from 1 pm to 7 pm. The galley remains closed on Mondays. It opens its doors to the public during some public holidays. The gallery has a documentation center that opens from 1 pm to 6 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Admission to the museum costs 4 Euros. Admission for children under 18 years is free. The gallery also offers group guided tours from 25 Euros.
Canal Du Midi In Toulouse France
Canal Du Midi is an interesting attraction in that it connects two major water bodies; the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It was built between 1666 and 1681 to give a link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Garonne River that leads to the Atlantic Ocean. It is officially marked as a UNESCO world heritage site.
If you are a lover of nature then you will enjoy the tour to the Canal. It runs on a distance of 240 kilometers from a place called Onglous to the Port of Mouth. Also, there is a towpath where you can discover the highway structures along the way. There are houseboats available for rent where you can stay and appreciate the Canal.
The Canal is a great place to enjoy activities such as fishing, cycling and hiking the trails that are along its banks. Arguably the best way to view the canal is by boat. Here you have an opportunity to see the French countryside and in the process make stopovers at vineyards.
If you are an active backpacker you could decide to add to your itinerary a cycling session along the canal. One thing to note though is that the road along this canal is poor and some sections have very unkempt paths. If it happens to rain be aware that the paths would be impassable for bikes. It is advisable to hire a mountain bike that would withstand these paths. You will also have to get names of the small villages in between the canal as most of them are unmarked you may have to ask for the names from the locals.
Le Pont Neuf
This is a bridge that goes over the Garonne River. It is the oldest bridge in France and links Gascogne and Languedoc towns. It runs for about 375 miles long. Construction of the bridge began as far back as 1544 and it was completed in 1632. It connects several towns and in addition, it offers interesting activities for you.
Some of the activities you can enjoy doing here include: taking a ride on the electric boat or instead take a paddleboat. The bridge is also a great place to view at night as it is well lit making it a picturesque sight to see. Much to backpacker’s and tourists’ delight, the bridge has lots of photo opportunities during the day and night.
Jacobins Convent In Toulouse France
The Jacobins Convent is a remnant of old -fashioned Toulouse cathedral. It is a huge building that is home to a church that was constructed in the year 1230. The exterior depicts an air of seriousness and once inside, visitors will notice the change to brightness in the interior sections. The interior is divided into seven-column piers.
The surrounding areas of the convent are places you can also stop over and sightsee. These include the monastery, a former eatery, the Virgin and the Saint Antonin chapels. Additionally, these places host concerts and exhibitions where you can explore to find out more about the history of this convent.
Cité de l’Espace
The Cité de l’espace is a discovery center that mainly focuses on space. It was officially opened in 1997 and located on the edge of Toulouse city. Touring Cité de l’espace is mainly an exploration tour. You will enjoy admiring the treasures from space and also discover a spacecraft.
If interested there is also an opportunity to train like astronauts and traveling to the furthest ends of the cosmos. This is a unique tour that will help you uncover the secrets of space. One day tickets cost 16 Euros.
Natural History Museum Of Toulouse France
This museum is centrally located in a magnificent botanical garden. A very popular hangout area for families in the city. A tour to the museum will expose you to many ancient fossils of various animals both historic and modern. Here, you get to learn about various world environments and how life has adapted to them.
Some of the collections you will see include skeletons posed in different ways. Once you are done with your tour, take some time to stroll inside the botanical garden. Admission to the museum costs 7€ for adults. It opens from 10 am to 6 pm every day and closes on Mondays.
Fine-Arts Museum In Toulouse France
The Augustine Fine Arts Museum is considered one of the best and the oldest museums in France. This museum showcases statues from the middle ages to the beginning of the 20th century. The collections include the Gothic and Roman statues.
The first floor of the museum contains sculptures of various painters from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Some of these painters include Vigee- Lebrun, Delacroix, and Murillo. Admission to the museum costs 7€. It opens from 10 am to 6 pm every day and closes on Mondays.
Contemporary Art Museum Of Toulouse France
This museum was designed in 1826 and completed 7 years later. The museum was initially a slaughterhouse. It has been renovated to create a contemporary art gallery. The gallery showcases a collection of over 3,000 exhibits.
One of the highlights of your tour here includes the painting done by Picasso in 1936 of the Minotaur’s body. Admission to the museum costs 7 €. Also, it opens daily from 10 am to 6 pm. However, it does close at 8 pm on Thursdays and is closed on Mondays and public holidays.
Visit The Airbus Headquarters
The Airbus headquarters is located in Toulouse and a perfect opportunity to tour the main office, the factory and the museum that was established in 2015. At the factory, you also have a wonderful opportunity to see the range of areophane models from A380 TO A35OXWB.
You will also get to go inside a real A400M. To get a guided tour to the museum and factory, ensure that you book a slot for the tour before you arrive. The tours take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes and this does not include time spent at the museum.
Tips on Traveling to Toulouse France
Get yourself the Toulouse Tourism pass. This is a card that gets you free transport around the city and free entry to some attractions within the city. You can get the most out of things to do in France with this card.
Also, note that there are several cards you can purchase depending on the number of days you intend to stay here. There is a card for 24 hours that costs €18, 48-hour card costs €28 and the 3-day pass that costs €35.
Once you arrive in France you can pick up the card at the airport. It will help you get from the airport to the city center. If you do not have a card you may have to get a taxi or a bus ride that costs €8 for one way.
The card is valuable as you can also get discounts for walking tours. This card is value for money with a variety of things to see in France. If you are intending to stay in Toulouse for up to three days then you schedule your activities around the attractions that the card offers for free and on discounted rates.