Toulouse’s architecture

If you’ve ever heard Toulouse referred to as ‘La Ville Rose’, you’ll understand why as soon as you arrive. The traditional use of brick is recognised as a local craft in this part of southern France, and it’s formed part of local heritage all the way from antiquity to the present day. Subtly shifting between soft pinks and fiery ochres with the changing sunlight, the façades of Toulouse’s buildings swathe the whole city in a warm, welcoming cloak.

For those who love culture and history, there are numerous iconic structures to explore here: the ancient Jacobins Convent, the beautiful Saint-Sernin Basilica which has been lavishly renovated to reveal the full glory of its medieval frescoes and murals, and the Hôtel d’Assézat, a magnificent 17th-century townhouse containing a private museum of paintings and objets d’art. Other important townhouses include the Hôtel de Bernuy and Hôtel de Pierre – in fact, there are around 100 mansions dating from the golden age of woad (a plant grown in the 16th century for its blue pigment), whose courtyards are a delight to wander through.
Toulouse’s museums are numerous and varied, often located in unusual heritage sites where history can be explored at the same time. Many 19th-century industrial buildings have been renovated and reborn as cultural venues, prolonging the tradition of brick.

Consider taking a guided walking tour to experience the city’s hidden art and architectural gems. Cross the Pont Neuf and explore the cosmopolitan district of Saint-Cyprien, where you’ll find the Passerelle Viguerie, a 140m-long walkway above the water alongside the Hôpital de la Grave. You’ll get goosebumps at the views across Toulouse! The immense Place du Capitole is the beating heart of the city, watched over by the town hall and opera house in their magnificent marble-columned building. Pop in and admire the spectacular 19th-century paintings on the ceiling and walls of the Salle des Illustres.

It’s not all about looking back in time in Toulouse – the city also has an architectural focus on the future, with its first skyscaper (to be named the Occitanie Tower) planned for 2022. Reaching a dizzy 500 feet above Toulouse’s skyline, it will incorporate eco-friendly features such as suspended gardens cleverly carved into a strip of the spiralling exterior. Its twisting shape will reflect the waterways of the Canal du Midi, which meanders through the city.

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Toulouse - Occitanie