Toulouse’s heritage: pink bricks and the True CrossAny visit to Toulouse must include a stop at its most famous square: Place du Capitole. This majestic central pedestrian square is a radiant backdrop for the monument for which it was named. Behind the Capitole’s opulent facade made entirely of marble columns, limestone and brick, you will discover an essential part of Toulouse’s history, embodied in the ceiling of the Salle des Illustres. The city reveals its heritage through its historic monuments, many of which are found quite close to this square. In fact, with just a few minutes’ walk down the shop-lined roads, you will see the spire of the Basilique Saint-Sernin. France’s largest Romanesque church emerges from amidst the Hausmann-style buildings. You will be captivated by its stunningly-constructed nave and its reliquary containing a piece of the True Cross, found in the crypt.A taste of the countryside inside the pink cityAn essential part of any visit to Toulouse, the city’s most picturesque settings are often found on the edge of the water, which is as impetuous as the city’s inhabitants. Take a moment to admire the way the sun’s rays reflect off the Garonne at sunset. Under the Pont-Neuf or from the lawns of the Prairies des Filtres, contemplate the beautiful copper chapel of the La Grave hospital. Toulouse’s natural side is tranquil and bucolic, like the Canal du Midi. The waterway that connects the Garonne to the Mediterranean begins here in Toulouse. You can choose between strolling or cycling along the banks, or drifting down the canal on one of the barges offering canal cruises.Toulouse: the holy land of rugbyThere’s a lot to say about rugby in Toulouse. The popular sport is on everyone’s lips, and works its way into every conversation. Rugby inspires passion in people of all ages. Why not join the locals in attending a match while you’re here? At the Ernest-Wallon Stadium, spend an evening watching Toulouse face off against their opponents and feel the fervour of an entire city supporting their team. The Toulouse fans create an ambiance that is unique in France. You will be surrounded by people talking about the details of the game, both in the stands and over the loudspeaker. If Toulouse wins, partake in the enthusiastic traditional “third half-time” on the Place du Capitole and let yourself be carried along by the jubilant energy of Toulouse’s supporters.Is it “pain au chocolat” or “chocolatine”?Toulouse and its inhabitants have a taste for good food. With local specialities like cassoulet, Toulouse knows how to tickle your taste buds. As you explore the city’s historic centre and other neighbourhoods, you will find yourself tempted by the local products for which the pink city is so well known. First and foremost, you’re sure to come across duck and goose foie gras, as well as the famous saucisse de Toulouse, with its strong, peppery flavour. The sausage is a key ingredient in a flavourful cassoulet. You’ll also be hard pressed to resist the temptation of a fenetra (traditional Toulousain tart), with its notes of candied lemon, or the delicious regional apple croustade (apple tart).
For many people, Toulouse is immediately associated with rugby, cassoulet and a friendly atmosphere. In fact, far beyond the stereotypes, the pink city also has stunning architecture, as can be seen in the beautiful Basilique Saint-Sernin. Toulouse’s illustrious history and poetic accent make it well worth a visit!
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