Top 12 Attractions in Toulouse, France

Best 12 tourist attractions in Toulouse

Toulouse in France is known as “la Ville Rose” because of its picturesque setting on the banks of the Garonne River. Given that many of the city’s landmark buildings are constructed from a distinctive pinkish brick, its skyline has an appearance unlike any other and has taken this nickname. Woad, a blue dye used in Medieval and Renaissance textiles, was the city’s most valuable product and provided the means to build many of the city’s landmarks.

Toulouse is now well recognized as the aerospace industry’s European hub thanks to the presence of Airbus’s global headquarters there and Europe’s biggest space center. Museums in Toulouse provide a wide range of topics, from the cosmos and prehistory to ancient art and natural history, and even span the Gothic and Impressionist eras.

12 top attractions in Toulouse

Read this detailed guide to Toulouse to learn about the city’s top attractions. You will learn about the best museums, sites, and tourist spots in Toulouse. We will also provide some essential information and tips for a better trip to Toulouse.

  1. Basilique Saint-Sernin
  2. Place du Capitole
  3. Muséum de Toulouse
  4. Convent of the Jacobins
  5. Musée des Augustins
  6. Georges Bemberg’s Foundation — Hotel of Assézat
  7. Musee Saint-Raymond
  8. Canal du Midi
  9. Cité de l’Espace, The Space Museum
  10. Jardin Japonais
  11. Jardins des Plantes
  12. Saint Stephen’s Cathredal

Basilique Saint-Sernin

Saint-Sernin Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 1100s, and it is definitely the top attraction in Toulouse. More relics are found in the crypt than in any other cathedral in France, and many of them were given by Charlemagne to the monastery that formerly existed in this location in the eighth century.

From the outside, the tower’s five stories of brick are immediately noticeable, and a closer inspection of the arches reveals the points at which work halted in the 1100s and resumed in the 1300s.

Toulouse’s prime saint, Saint Sernin, was, in fact, the city’s first saint. In 250 A.D., pagans cruelly put an end to his life by dragging him along the Rue du Taur (the Street of the Bull) while chained to a bull.

  • Address: Pl. Saint-Sernin, 31000 Toulouse, France.
Basilique Saint-Sernin
Basilique Saint-Sernin

Place du Capitole

Toulouse’s Place du Capitole is the city’s main thoroughfare and symbolic focal point. It’s the city hall of Toulouse, France, and it’s been the city’s political hub since the 12th century.

The Place du Capitole has been a pedestrian mall since 1995, and it is surrounded by luxurious red brick structures. Whether you’re in Toulouse to shop, sightsee, or let loose, you’ll inevitably find yourself at the central plaza in front of the city hall, as it is the main building and one of the best attractions in Toulouse.

It is a bustling marketplace by day, with vendors selling everything from clothing and accessories to trinkets and souvenirs; at night, it is vacant, making it an ideal meeting spot for both locals and tourists.

  • Address: JC3V+P8, 31000 Toulouse, France.
  • Timings: 24/7.

Muséum de Toulouse

Muséum de Toulouse is another one of Toulouse’s top attractions that you must visit on your trip to this magical city. Unlike what you probably think, Muséum de Toulouse is not a museum about Toulouse; instead, it is the greatest ethnological and natural history institution in France outside of Paris.

Botanical, entomological, mineralogical, ornithological, paleontological, and many more “logical” galleries await anyone with an interest in natural science. Wanderlust 19th-century thinkers collected several of these collections.

There are Neolithic axes, a Mesolithic tomb, and a bronze necklace from the Holocene era, all of which bear witness to the diversity of prehistoric culture and technology.

  • Address: 35 All. Jules Guesde, 31000 Toulouse, France.
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays.
Muséum de Toulouse
Muséum de Toulouse

Convent of the Jacobins

The Couvent des Jacobins, a Dominican convent, was established between 1260 and 1292. Built completely out of red bricks from Toulouse, much as the Basilique Saint Sernin, this magnificent structure is a prime example of Southern Gothic architecture, and it is one of the top attractions in Toulouse.

The interior design is light and airy in contrast to the building’s huge and austere appearance. The church inside the convent is beautiful; it has a two-aisled nave with soaring vaulting and the iconic palm frond ribs spreading out from the seven piers of the choir.

Several fresco paintings from the 14th century adorn the walls of the Saint Antonin church. St. Thomas Aquinas’s relics are also housed in the cathedral.

The convent’s refectory serves as a host for exhibits throughout the year. In addition to regular exhibits, the convent often features special events and Cultural activities, such as medieval reenactments and nights with dance.

  • Address: Place des Jacobins, 31000 Toulouse, France.
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays.

Musée des Augustins

Art enthusiasts shouldn’t visit Toulouse without checking out the Musée des Augustins (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse), as it is one of the best attractions in Toulouse. The museum showcases a historical survey of Western art from the Middle Ages through the 1940s. The museum has more than four thousand pieces in its collection, making it one of the most extensive and varied in the world when it comes to art.

The museum is housed in a 14th- to 16th-century Augustines Convent that was converted into an exhibition hall. His Historical Monument is unique in terms of Southern Gothic architecture and design. The cloister in Musée des Augustins is a must-see, with its rows of marble columns and elaborately designed capitals.

  • Address: 21 Rue de Metz, 31000 Toulouse, France.
Musée des Augustins
Musée des Augustins

Georges Bemberg’s Foundation — Hotel of Assézat

Georges Bemberg’s Foundation, or Hotel of Assézat, is another one of Toulouse’s best attractions. The Hotel of Assézat on the Rue de Metz is home to a world-class collection of fine and decorative arts that were created during the Renaissance. In the 16th century, Capitoul Pierre d’Assézat, who became wealthy via the production of plant dye, commissioned the construction of the Hotel of Assézat.

The building’s courtyard continues to stand out because of its elaborate sculptural elements and arcaded loggia. The renovated Hotel of Assézat now proudly shows works from the Foundation Bemberg, such as Venetian paintings from the 16th and 18th centuries, French paintings from the 18th century, Renaissance portraits, religious paintings, bronze sculptures, and royal book bindings.

  • Address: Place d’Assezat, 31000 Toulouse, France.

Musee Saint-Raymond

Musée Saint-Raymond, located just across from the Basilique Saint-Sernin, has an impressive collection of artifacts and relics from the region’s rich archaeological past. The museum is located in a historical university building from the Middle Ages (1523), and it is one of the top attractions in Toulouse.

This assortment includes both Roman and early Middle Ages artifacts as well as ancient archaeological finds. The 700-piece collection of Roman sculptures from the Villa Chiragan is the museum’s crown jewel; it includes mythical works and Roman portraits and is comparable with the antiquities of the Louvre in Paris.

A walk in the museum’s Garden of Antiquities is a great way to take a break after exploring the exhibits. The garden was created to seem like a traditional Roman garden; therefore, it was planted with cypresses, laurels, grapevines, and olive trees. A café with outdoor patio seating is available in the garden, serving a variety of beverages and light food.

  • Address: 1 ter Pl. Saint-Sernin, 31000 Toulouse, France.
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays.
Musee Saint-Raymond
Musee Saint-Raymond

Canal du Midi

The purpose of the Canal du Midi was to provide a more direct route between the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. The canal, which is 240 km long, was planned in 1667. It took 10 years and 12,000 employees to construct this massive project.

Starting in Toulouse, the canal travels south to the port of Sète on the Mediterranean coast, not far from Marseille. Cyclists and pedestrians use the walkways that run beside the Canal du Midi in Toulouse.

One of the best ways to take in the sights of Toulouse is on a leisurely walk along the canal’s tree-lined promenade. A wonderful opportunity to take in the sights and feel the peaceful atmosphere of the city; that’s why it is considered to be one of the greatest attractions in Toulouse.

Cité de l’Espace, The Space Museum

France’s Cité de l’espace is a science museum dedicated to space exploration. Its current site, to the east of Toulouse, was chosen in May 1997, and it opened in June of that year. There have been almost four million visits to this museum by 2012, as it is one of the best attractions in Toulouse and attracts a large number of tourists per year.

You may spend a day taking in some enlightening IMAX films and planetarium presentations if you or your kids are interested in the universe.

The real Mir space station, which orbited the Earth from 1986 until 2001, may cause space nerds to faint. You may also see a full-scale model of the European Ariane 5 rocket, which has launched successfully on more than seventy operations since 2003.

  • Address: Av. Jean Gonord, 31500 Toulouse, France.
Cité de l’Espace, The Space Museum
Cité de l’Espace, The Space Museum

Jardin Japonais

You will find a park that has been designated as a French “jardin remarquable” at Compans Cafarelli, which is located far to the north of the city center. Given Toulouse’s southern latitude, a Japanese Garden is somewhat of a rarity, and this one takes its cues from the gardens of Kyoto in the late Middle Ages. Jardin Japonais Pierre Baudis is one of the best attractions you get to visit in Toulouse.

The garden is rich in symbolism and perfect for contemplation and relaxation; however, it is less crowded in the morning. Walk over to the paradise island in the garden, where koi and turtles swim below you while you stand on the bridge over the pond.

  • Address: Jardin Compans Caffarelli, Bd Lascrosses, 31000 Toulouse, France.

Jardins des Plantes

Another great park in Toulouse is the Jardins de Plantes, which is also one of the top attractions in Toulouse. You can take a leisurely walk through here on the way to the Canal du Midi, which is very close to the Museum de Toulouse. The gardens span an expansive 7 hectares and include sculptures, ponds, paths, and play spaces. It’s the ideal spot to rest your head since it’s connected to other gardens.

Over 600 specimens of extinct plant and animal life dating back more than 500 million years are on display at the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy. Triceratops, gigantic prehistoric alligators, and a 20-meter-long whale are just a few of the amazing dinosaur fossils found there.

The Natural History Museum is dispersed across the park’s several buildings, which makes this place double special. There are hundreds of lifelike stuffed animals to see at the impressive Grande Galerie de l’Évolution (Evolution exhibition).

  • Address: 31 All. Jules Guesde, 31400 Toulouse, France.
Jardins des Plantes
Jardins des Plantes

Saint Stephen’s Cathedral

Last but not least, a place on the list of Toulouse’s top attractions is Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. Since its construction spanned five centuries and many architectural eras, the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne exhibits a mixed assortment of styles. The old Romanesque church was gradually modified with numerous Gothic characteristics. The outcome is an eclectic monument with a rather uneven aspect.

When construction on the cathedral was completed towards the close of the 12th century, its 19-meter-wide nave made it Europe’s largest of its type. The cathedral was eventually renovated in the North Gothic style to match the major churches of Northern Europe.

Besides its high tower, the church contains extensive ornamental embellishments. Splendid stained-glass windows, particularly the enormous rose window, enable ethereal light to enter the sanctuary. Also worth visiting are the cathedral’s ornately designed chapels and the exquisite tapestries from the 16th to 18th centuries.

  • Address: Pl. Saint-Étienne, 31000 Toulouse, France.
  • Timings: every day from 8 AM to 7 PM.

Final words about top attractions in Toulouse

Perhaps no French city is as underappreciated as Toulouse. But don’t worry, because we want to alter that. Once you learn about all the fun activities and attractions available in Toulouse, you’ll want to make it a must-stop on your tour of France. Hope this article helps you take a glimpse of Toulouse’s best attractions and why you must plan a trip to this lovely city.

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