Violets are the flower of Toulouse. The little purple petals have been cultivated here since 1854 and this species is a cousin of the fragrant Parma violet. They’re an important part of the heritage of Toulouse and you can enjoy the scent and discover the history of the violet at the Maison de la Violette barge which is moored on the Canal du Midi in the city. Each February there’s a grand festival to celebrate the blossoming violet at the spectacular Place du Capitole.
Visit Maison Berdoues. Founded in 1902, the family run perfume company that is a French household name and renowned globally, develops fragrances such as the legendary Violette de Toulouse.
A show-stopper market and a place of tempting aromas, our top tip is to head to the first floor of this 100 year old market where you’ll discover a fabulous bistro called L'Impériale – impossible to not be intoxicated by the delicious smells of the freshly cooked food, their cassoulet is divine!
Chill out in a garden
The beautiful botanical gardens are a perfect place to chill out and smell the roses and other flowers right next to the [Natural History Museum](http://www.toulouse-visit.com/offre/fiche/patrimoine-culturel/le-museum-de-toulouse/PCUMID031FS00966). You’ll find the museum mascots preening and primping - the peacocks, and if you’re lucky you’ll even spot a baby one! It’s also a great place for a snack at Le Moaï café (and there’s free WiFi here too).
Take a winter walk down Allées François Verdier – this typically Toulousan tree-lined boulevard and green space is just behind the cathedral and leads to two lovely gardens, perfect for peaceful reflection if the sun’s out.
Used for dyeing and as a medicinal plant since antiquity, Isatis Tinctoria was cultivated in the Lauragais, between Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne. Its blue pigment was exported throughout Europe and used as a dye for textiles. Having earned a fortune, the pastel merchants had sumptuous private mansions built in Toulouse. Visit Terre de Pastel, an unusual complex that combines, museum-spa-boutique-restaurant showcasing the plant.
Around and About in Haute-Garonne
Relish the glorious fresh air of the local countryside – take the route of the Canal du Midi by bike from Toulouse to Carcassonne. This section of the Canal des Deux Mers plunges riders into the fabulous history of the Canal du Midi, built in the 17th century to link the River Garonne to the Mediterranean Sea.