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Toulouse, or the so-called "Pink City", is the 4th biggest city in France with an average population of 500 000 people into town - 1 million if you consider its suburbs. As of September 10, 2010 Toulouse is the French city having the third largest CS community with 7289 CouchSurfers.
As for the surrounding region, named 'Midi-Pyrénées' after the nearby Pyrenees mountains (1 hour drive from Toulouse) it gathers around 7,000 CS members.
History of Toulouse
More informations about the History of Toulouse on the wikipedia:Toulouse !
CS meetings in Toulouse
Meetings take place every second Tuesday at the bar Kalimera located 15 Rue Toul near the place Arnaud Bernard. Metro: line B, station "Compans Cafarelli". Check Toulouse main group or search the meetings page: select Europe/France/Midi-Pyrenees/Toulouse.
Besides 'regular' meetings, quite a few members know one another and organize things together. You can contact and offer them to organize a meet-up for you while you will be around. Best is to use the local group in that purpose.
There is a sub-group dedicated to Toulouse within the Midi-Pyrénées regional group. It should noted though that people tend to post and organize things on the Toulouse group rather than on the regional one.
Youth Hostel / Camping
A youth hostel has been closed for long and reopened. Here are the contact details. No online booking is possible yet. It seems that a 2 days stay is a minimum. Hotels in the centre might prove expensive and the only camp site is on the edge of the city (Sesquières) and not so easily reachable with public transport. In the summer one option if you get stuck last minute without a host might be to camp along the 'Garonne' river that crosses the city - South of the centre its banks offer nice pieces of grass, a bit of a shadow and the police usually don't mind.
A project consisting in listing free or cheap resources has been started here. You'll find free parkings, free or cheap food, free places where you can put your tent, free showers and... free pee ! Good to know for travelers on a budget...
Toulouse has a public transport system offering several bus lines and since 1993 the first metro line allows to cross the city from West to East. A second line going North to South opened June 2007. There are no zones and tickets are valid one hour after their first use on any means of transport (train, bus, metro, tram). Check the map here. The website is in French only - though you can check the map of the network at least!
To/From the Airport
A tramway line is due to open within a few months. In the meantime, a shuttle bus links the airport and the city center, via the train station. The shuttle bus is quite expensive (5€), there is also the bus line 66 which is StCyprien-Airport at a normal bus ticket price.
Some lowcost companies do not land at Toulouse airport. For example, if travaling with RyanAir, check the planes arriving at Carcassonne, Pau, Perpignan and Béziers. Then you can go by train.
Cycling - rentals
Maps of the network can be found at the City Hall Planning Department, located place des Carmes and are handed for free if you ask. Some would also be available at the Tourist Office. PDF files are downloadable here :
Since November 2007, you can rent a bike from one of the 242 stations. First, you've got to pay 1 euro for a day, or 5 euros for a week, then the first 30 minutes are free, extra time costs up to 2 euros/hour. Stations do not allow you to take a bike from 2am till 5:30am. You can return it at any time. You'll need a visa card. Read more on VélôToulouse webiste
Note about the spelling : VélôToulouse is the concatenation of vélo (bike) and Toulouse (no need to translate). So far, nothing tricky. So, why this circumflex ? 'ô' , preceding a proper name or a noun, is used to formulate an emphasis when interpellating so or sth.
ô Toulouse reminds everybody of the famous song from Claude Nougaro simply called 'Toulouse' (Ô mon pays, ô Toulouse).
Maison du Velo
You can rent better bikes for less money at the "Maison du Velo" (House of bike). They give you a proper decent bike, a lock, then you're responsible for the bike. You can also rent an helmet and some fancy accessories. You got the choice between 6 models of bikes (3 folding-bike models)
It cost 5 euros for a week, 10 euros for a month, and 100 euros for a year (you can use it all night long ;) ).
12, boulevard Bonrepos (exactly in front of the train station, on the opposite side of the canal)
Open from Monday to Friday, from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
All the info at maisonduvelotoulouse.com
Cycling and rollerskating - free tours
Every first Sunday of the month (that is the same Sunday when entrance to public sector owned museums is for free everywhere in France), the centre of the city is totally forbidden to cars and free 15 kilometers biking tours are offered by the City Hall, departing in front of it around 10.00am. And every Friday night, free tours depart from the St Sernin basilica at 8.30pm (lasting around 1 hour 1/2) whereas rollerskating tours depart from the City Hall at the same hour.
For free cycling and rollerskating tours organised by the City Hall Environmental Department, check the Public Transport section above.
More informations about the places to visit in Toulouse on the wikivoyage:Toulouse !
Victor Hugo, Carmes and Saint Cyprien markets : Tuesday to Sunday from 6 till 13. Expensive but high-quality food.
Saint Aubin market : Sunday morning. Food, handcraft, bookstalls, secondhand vinyl records. Music bands.
Cristal market : along the Boulevard de Strasbourg, Tuesday to Sunday morning. (Cheap) food.
Saint Sernin market : Saturday and Sunday mornings. Flea market.
Coffee or a drink
Since January 2008, smoking in public areas (including pubs and restaurants) is not allowed anymore.
For sure you will be told to go to Place St Pierre and Place du Capitole. Nevertheless, try to walk a bit further and you will discover a lot a very nice and cosy places. Keep in mind that some of the following pubs are closed during given periods in summer.
Coffee and tea :
- Le Saveurs des Tropiques, place Rouaix, near the intersection of rue de Metz and Alsace-Lorraine, incredibly nice staff, used to CSers. There you can buy freshly brewed coffee beans and many different teas also. Ask for the coffee you would like to taste or, during the summer try the "café frappé avec un peu sirop d'orgeat', a delicious and beautiful drink to cool you down. Drinks are served no later than 18:30 though.
- The Petit London, rue Riquet. Cheap drinks, welcoming staff. You can go there after Saint Aubin Market for example. Open from Monday to Friday afternoons and evenings, and Sunday mornings. Some concerts may occur and special events are organized by cultural associations.
- La Loupiote, rue Réclusane. Nice local pub in Saint Cyprien. Some free concerts.
- La Tireuse, rue Pargamminière. A lot of draught beers, jazz and salsa music.
- Le Filochard, place du Pont-Neuf (at the corner of rue de Metz and quais de Tounis). Nice place to have a drink and watch the sunset. VERY busy at night
- Le Nain Jaune, rue Valade. Tiny pub where you can eat tapas as well. Free concerts.
- La Cale Sèche, rue Gambetta. Crowded pub where you can find a wide range of homemade rhums.
- Le Café Populaire (insiders use to say café pop), rue de la Colombette. Eclectic people. Cheap (and not tasty) beers.
- L'ancienne Belgique , rue de la Trinité. Cool and relaxed place where you can enjoy really tasty Belgian beers and laid back people.
- Le Champagne 4, Rue Peyras. Another great bar, not so much for champagne (the old owner) but rather for the ambiance : don't miss out on Friday's quizz contest (musical knowledge).
- L'Estanquet de la Portièra, 42, rue des blanchers. Real Occitan wine bar with cheap and great wines.
English and Irish pubs :
- The Dubliners, avenue Marcel Langer
- The Mulligan's, grande rue St Michel
- The Frog and Rosbif, rue de l'Industrie
- The Killarney, rue Alfred Dumeril
- London Town, rue Prêtres
- De Danú, rue du Pont Guilheméry
Reasonable priced Cabarets/Theaters/Auditoriums/Concert Halls
- Le Bijou, 123 avenue de Muret. Pub with a separate auditorium.
- Le Mandala, 23 rue des Amidonniers. Jazz club.
- L'ambassade, 22 Boulevard de la Gare. Pub with a garden. Concerts.
- Théatre du Grand Rond, 23 rue des Potiers. Before the main session, les apéros du Grand Rond consist on a shorter performance. You decide at the end of the show how much you want to give to the artist(s).
- Théatre du Pont Neuf, 8 place Arzac.
- La cave poésie, 71, rue du Taur : theater, music, poetry... Each full moon night: open stage (free entrance).
Art house cinema
- Le cratère, 95 grande rue St Michel.
- Utopia, 24 rue Montardy (city center) and Impasse du Château in Tournefeuille.
- ABC, 13 rue Saint-Bernard.
- La cinémathèque, 69 rue du Taur. Film archive and projetction room.
You will find original version movies in the above-mentioned cinemas.
Classical mainstream cinemas
- Gaumont : place Wilson
- UGC : Allée Franklin Roosevelt
Tickets are more expensive and movies are almost always dubbed.
Natural and leisure parks
- La Prairie des Filtres : along the Garonne, a nice place for a picnic or to walk around.
- Le Jardin des Plantes : botanical garden surrounded by Jules-Guesde Alley, Frederic-Mistral Alley, Alfred-Duméril Alley and Lamarck Alley
- Japanese garden, Compans-Caffarelli
- Square Boulingrin : Grand Rond
- Raymon VI garden : allées Charles de Fitte
|Strictly speaking, Toulouse has very few gastronomic specialities : the saucisses de Toulouse (sausages), violet based products (candys, syrups...). We won't debate if the Cassoulet originates from Toulouse or Castelnaudary. In fact, both towns have their own recipe. Nevertheless, you will find everywhere in Toulouse restaurants cooking specialities from southwestern France (basically 'duck-centered').|
As for the food, Toulouse does not produce any wine, but there are some wine growing areas in the neighbourhoods : Cahors (aforementioned), Jurançon (article in French): sweet white wine located next to Pau, Madiran (Hautes-Pyrénées Department) and Gaillac (Tarn Department). You will probably be suggested to taste the Tariquet as well. Very few people knew this set of wines (red, rose and white wines, Bas-Armagnac) some years ago. This winery (not an AOC) has now flooded Toulouse.
As in many other big towns in France, finding an accomodation is not easy. Having money is not enough, you have to prove it ! In most cases you'll be required to provide :
- a deposit (two month-rent)
- one month prepaid rent
- a garantor
Both estate agencies and private owners expect you to have :
- a permanent work contract
- a salary greater or equal to three times the rent amount. You are supposed to prove you earnt this salary for at least 3 months
After reading this, you may feel desperate. It maybe won't comfort you but keep in mind a lot of people are unable to satisfy these requirements (students, artists, unemployes, freelance jobs and so on). Some tips following :
- First start with private owners classifieds (no agency fee). You'll find classifieds in two specialized free papers Le 31 and Bonjour, both located rue Rivals. These papers are not published during some weeks in August.
- Consider house-sharing.
- Ask to everybody ! Ask your favorite baker, ask to pub staff...
- Read ads hanging in laundries, universities...
- Students will find ads at CROUS (regional university institution, located 58 rue du Taur)
- Check out the CRIJ (organization for youth information, located 17 rue de Metz)
- You can ask help to other CouchSurfers. Post a message in Moving in Toulouse and settling here. NB: Please avoid posting in Toulouse main group.
Over the web
During rush periods (June to September), you have to answer very quickly when an ad is published. Best way is to glue to the web :
A last thing... Sad to admit it, but if you're not a native French and you know one, better ask him/her to help you : let him/her give a call, ask him/her to come with you when you are visiting a flat. For some reason, some flat owner may give you a negative answer over the phone if he/she detects your accent, even if the flat is still available. Once he/she have met you and you look nice to him/her, he/she may change his/her mind. You can meet open-minded people, but that's not always the case.
Speaking French in Toulouse
You may find that some inhabitants in Toulouse have a strong funny accent. Beyond this point, there is no real distinctiveness between French spoken in Toulouse and regular French (but what is regular French ?). It's all the more true that a lot of inhabitants are not native from Toulouse. Nevertheless, some words may confuse you :
- chocolatine stands for pain au chocolat
- poche (pocket) means also sac plastique (plastic bag)
- adieu (farewell), usually used to mean a definitive goodbye (see you in Heaven) is used in different places in the southern France as hello (when you meet someone)
These words are not only used in Toulouse. Both may be used in southwestern France.
Don't feel upset if someone uses the words putain or con. There's a big chance the talker did not use it in an agressive way. One uses to say that these words are pontcuation marks in Toulouse ;o)
Occitan, also called langue d'Oc has been spoken in the whole southern France. There is a disagreement about the number of speakers. Anyway, don't be afraid: each Occitan speaker is a native French speaker too. Just don't be surprised if you find two geographical names in signboards indicating the name of the streets in the city center. Maps and roadsigns are only written in French.
Info more at its place at Wikitravel
Toulouse is the great rival of Bordeaux for the "title" of being the capital of South-Western France. It is renowned for its gastronomy (try cassoulet, foie gras, confit...) and its brick walls that give the city a particular architecture and everchanging colours. It goes from orange to yellow to red or even pink - thus making it the "Pink City" indeed - as seasons or hours of the day go by.
Its history is rich and extends over thousands of years - the earliest inhabitants dating from prehistorical times, it also was for a short while the capital of the wisigoth empire and 'Tolosa' was a major city in the area under Roman times. Its chore still bears some marks of it - if you pay enough attention you might figure which were the two ancient Roman 'cardus' and 'decumanus' axis that organised the whole division of lands and street pattern (rue St Rome/rue des Filatiers and rue de Metz). Downtown, the chore of Toulouse offers a grid of crooked, tiny labyrinthical one-way streets with the sewage system right in the middle - typical from Middle Ages!
But the most glorious hours of the city were during the 16th - 17th century. This is when most of the major historical buildings date from. What made Toulouse so wealthy is a plant called 'pastel'. It was cultivated in the surroundings then treated so it would give out a particular blue colour used to dye clothes and much appreciated during Renaissance. Later on, India was discovered which lead to trading and using indigo - this being much cheaper than cultivating pastel Toulouse was left ruined, having lost its main source of income.
Nowadays the economy of the city is mostly about tertiary and white collar industry e.g. electronics, space and aeronautics. It hosts an important part of the main European aircraft factory Airbus inc. the assembly lines of the newest A380 and some of the major French space research centres - the Ariane sky-rocket is launched and controlled from both Toulouse and Kourou in French Guyana (South America).
It is also one of the major cities for students in France - it claims to host the most after Paris with an average population of 120 000 students. This 'title' is disputed though by Grenoble (South-East of France, close to the Alps) that is well known as another 'academic' city.
If you have some extra time after visiting Toulouse there are plenty of places to visit around Toulouse :
- Carcassonne is a well preserved fortified town. There is a direct train from Toulouse. See the official website of the city of Carcassonne and the Wikipedia article.
- Albi is a town with a beautiful historic area, notably the Cathedral. This town is also known for its old bridges and the museum dedicated to Toulouse Lautrec (the famous painter). Direct train from Toulouse. See the Tourist Office website and the Wikipedia article.
- Cordes sur Ciel is a fortified medieval town. No railway station. If you go there by car, don't expect to park for free, you will have to pay in any case. See the Tourist Office website and the Wikipedia article.
- Sidobre (site in French), granite rocks located 150km east from Toulouse (you need a car to visit from a place to another). See also a description in English.
- Cathar castles : ruins of citadels. Even if the word Cathar is employed in an erroneous way, due to a trend serving tourism industry, it's worth visiting these sites. You need a car.
- Cahors (see the official website and the Wikipedia article) capital of the Lot département, in the center of the wine country of the same name, is a potential entry point of the Vallée du Lot (see website and Wikipedia article). There is a railway station in Cahors.
- Saint Antonin Noble Val : well known by climbers, Saint Antonin is a nice old village. See official website and the Wikipedia article.
- Pyrénées : paradise of mountain lovers, you'll find in French, Spanish and Andorran Pyrénées a lot of beautiful places for hiking, climbing, canoeing, skiing, paragliding and so much more. Too many relevant websites to mention any. Just type Pyrénées in your favourite search engine and you'll get loads of results. Everybody will find a suitable place to practise various activities: from experienced alpinists to kids who are offered the opportunity to ride a donkey and visit the Cirque de Gavarnie. Just don't forget the elementary safety rules (weather checking, difficulty level, equipment). In case of doubt, ask to a guides office.
In Case of Emergency
- Police Station: Commissariat Central
23 boulevard de l'Embouchure. Phone number : +33 (0)5 61 12 77 77
- Health Urgency:
S.O.S Doctors. Phone number : +33 (0)5 61 33 00 00
Hospital Purpan. Phone number : +33 (0)5 61 77 22 33 (telephone department)
- Night pharmacy :
13 rue du sénéchal (near pl. du Capitole). Phone number during days: +33 (0)5 61 21 26 74. Phone number during nights (from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.): +33 (0)5 61 21 81 20.
70-76 allées Jean-Jaurès (entrance in the street Arnaud-Vidal). Phone number : +33 (0)5 61 62 38 05
- Fireman Station:
Caserne Jacques - Vion Phone number : +33 (0)5 62 13 18 00
Canadian Consulate: 30 boulevard de Strasbourg - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)184.108.40.206.16
Mexican Consulate: 35 rue Ozenne - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)220.127.116.11.17 Fax : +33 (0)5.61.55.01.55
Brazilian Consulate: 6, Allée François Verdier - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)18.104.22.168.10
Belgian Consulate: 3, rue Mage - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)22.214.171.124.93
Danish Consulate: 6 place Saintes Scarbes - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)126.96.36.199.16 Fax : +33 (0)5.62.26.03.82
Spanish Consulate General: 16, rue Sainte Anne - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)5.61.52.05.50 Fax : +33 (0)188.8.131.52.52
Italian Consulate: 2 Allée François Verdier - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)184.108.40.206.90
Portuguese Consulate General: 33 avenue Camille Pujol - 31500 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)220.127.116.11.45
Great Britain Consulate: Lucas Aerospace, Victoria Center, bat.Daurat, 20 ch. Laporte - 31300 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)5.61.15.02.02 Fax : +33 (0)5.61.15.08.92
Swiss Consular Agency: c/o T.D Informatique - 36 allée de Bellefontaine - 31081 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)18.104.22.168.33 Fax : +33 (0)5.61.41.07.15
Netherlands Consulate: 54bis, rue Alsace-Lorraine - 31000 Toulouse Phone number : +33 (0)22.214.171.124.94 Fax : +33 (0)5.61.12.04.05
- Emergency Doctor:
Local Media Mentions
- Official Website of the townhall, in French.
- Official website of the tourist office, in English.
- Toulouseweb informations about concerts, cinemas, theaters, art exhibitions, classifieds...
- Let's motiv cultural events agenda
A few intersite links one might find of use :
- World wikia: http://world.wikia.com/wiki/Toulouse