Classified “City of Art and History”, Toulouse has a very rich architectural heritage ranging from large Romanesque and Gothic churches to neo-classical facades such as that of the Capitole, to the prestigious mansions of the Renaissance. Almost all the buildings of the historical centre were made with the traditional building material of the region: the “foraine” brick that has earned the city the nickname of Ville Rose (Pink city). White stone is also present in smaller quantities. As there were no stone quarries near Toulouse, it was transported from the Pyrenees via the Garonne river, and was for a long time rare and therefore expensive.
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, the SPOT satellite system, ATR and Aerospace Valley. It hosts Toulouse Space Centre (CST), which is the largest space centre in Europe. On the military side, the newly created NATO space centre of excellence and the French Space Command and Space Academy is also here. The University of Toulouse, founded in 1229, is one of the oldest in Europe. Toulouse is also the home of prestigious higher education schools, notably in the field of aerospace engineering. Together with the university, they have turned Toulouse into the fourth-largest student city in France, with a university population of nearly 140,000 students.
Founded by the Romans, the city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the Late Middle Ages and early modern period, making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the region of Occitania, the second largest region in Metropolitan France. Toulouse counts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Canal du Midi, Basilica of St. Sernin, which is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, and the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques, because of it’s significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
World War I brought chemical industries as well as aviation workshops to Toulouse. They launched the city’s aeronautical construction tradition, and gave birth to the famous Aéropostale, a pioneering airmail company, whose epics were popularised in novels by writers such as Joseph Kessel and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (an Aéropostale pilot). In the 1920s and 1930s the rise of the Toulouse population was increased by the arrival of Italians and Spaniards fleeing the fascist regimes of their country. Then, in the early 1960s, French repatriates from Algeria swelled the city’s population. In 1963, Toulouse was chosen to become one of the country’s eight “balancing Metropolis”, regaining a position among the country’s major cities, that it had lost in the 19th century. The French state thereby encouraged the city’s specialisation in aeronautics, space activities, sectors that had experienced strong growth in recent decades, fueling economic and population growth. In 2016 a territorial reform made Toulouse the regional prefecture of Occitanie. It is the second largest region in metropolitan France, giving it a role commensurate with its past as a provincial capital among the most important in France.
Toulouse offers great shopping, lots of nice restaurants, cafés, outdoor activities, and naturally lot’s of cultural attractions. From our castle, the city is reached by car in less than two hours. And if you are interested in air & space activities, why not take a tour at the Airbus facility, or the museum adjacent to the aircraft manufacturer?