Toulouse, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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TOULOUSE
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Toulouse is a city in southwest France on the banks of the Garonne River, half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. With 1,117,000 inhabitants in 2007, the Toulouse metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in France and the fastest growing in Europe. Toulouse is one of the centres of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, and CNES's Toulouse Space Center (CST), the largest space center in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, Europe's largest satellite manufacturer, and EADS Astrium Satellites, EADS's satellite system subsidiary, also have a significant presence in Toulouse. Its world-known university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 120,000 students, is the third largest university campus of France after Paris and Lyon. Toulouse was the capital of the former province of Languedoc (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution). It is now the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the largest region in metropolitan France. It is also the capital of the Haute-Garonne department. read full wikipedia reference about Toulouse, France


TOULOUSE , with its beautiful historic centre, is one of the most vibrant and metropolitan provincial cities in France. This is a transformation that has come about since the war, under the guidance of the French state, which has poured in money to make Toulouse the think-tank of high-tech industry and a sort of premier trans-national Euroville. Always an aviation centre - St-Exupéry and Mermoz flew out from here on their pioneering airmail flights over Africa and the Atlantic in the 1920s - Toulouse is now home to Aérospatiale, the driving force behind Concorde, Airbus and the Ariane space rocket. The national Space Centre, the European shuttle programme, the leading aeronautical schools, the frontier-pushing electronics industry... it's all happening in Toulouse, whose 110,000 students make it second only to Paris as a university centre. But it's not to the burgeoning suburbs of factories, labs, shopping and housing complexes that all these people go for their entertainment, but to the old Ville Rose - pink not only in its brickwork, but also in its politics.

This is not the first flush of pre-eminence for Toulouse. From the tenth to the thirteenth centuries the counts of Toulouse controlled much of southern France. They maintained the most resplendent court in the land, renowned especially for its troubadours, the poets of courtly love, whose work influenced Petrarch, Dante and Chaucer and thus the whole course of European poetry. Until, that is, the arrival of the hungry northern French nobles of the Albigensian Crusade; in 1271 Toulouse became crown property .

The part of the city you'll want to see forms a rough hexagon clamped round a bend in the wide, brown River Garonne and contained in a ring of inner nineteenth-century boulevards - Strasbourg, Carnot, Jules-Guesde and others. An outer ring enclosing these is formed by the Canal du Midi, which here joins the Garonne on its way from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

Old Toulouse is effectively quartered by two nineteenth-century streets: the long shopping street, rue d'Alsace-Lorraine/rue du Languedoc , which runs north-south; and rue de Metz , which runs east-west onto the Pont-Neuf and across the Garonne. It is all very compact and easily walkable.

In addition to the general pleasure of wandering the streets, there are three very good museums and some real architectural treasures in the churches of St-Sernin and Les Jacobins and in the magnificent Renaissance town houses - hôtels particuliers - of the merchants who grew rich on the woad-dye trade. This formed the basis of the city's economy from the mid-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, when the arrival of indigo from the Indian colonies wiped it out.

Place du Capitole is the centre of gravity for the city's social life. Its smart cafés throng with people at lunchtime and in the early evening when the dying sun flushes the pink facade of the big town hall opposite. This is the scene of a mammoth Wednesday market for food, clothes and junk, and of a smaller organic foods market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. From place du Capitole, a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets radiates out to the town's several other squares, such as place Wilson, the more intimate place St-Georges, the delightful triangular place de la Trinité and place St-étienne in front of the cathedral.

For green space, you have to head for the sunny banks of the Garonne or the lovely formal gardens of the Grand-Rond and Jardin des Plantes in the southeast corner of the centre. A less obvious but attractive alternative is the towpath of the Canal du Midi; the best place to join it is a short walk southeast of the Jardin des Plantes, by the neo-Moorish pavilion of the Georges-Labit museum , which houses a good collection of Egyptian and Oriental art.




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