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The charming, pink tinged buildings of central Toulouse are what give it its moniker, 'La Ville Rose'. They stand close together, beside winding, cobbled lanes few cars dare to attempt. Making this a wonderful place to explore on foot. The charming Place du Capitole is at Toulouse's rose heart: a lovely square, lined with important halls, churches and municipal buildings.
The Garonne River splits the city in two, and most of the main sights are on the right bank, between the tree lined river and the Canal du Midi, which flows around the city's north east.
Most visitors start their visit in the Place du Capitole and wander outwards. It won't take long to spot the 17th Century Carmelite Chapel on Rue de Perigord, which has some wonderful murals. Or the Basilica St. Sernin, built in the 13th Century - and an important stop along the Camino de Santiago.
But one of the loveliest streets is the Rue Emile Cartailhac: lined with charming cafes and grand residences it heads towards the river.
The other major church is the Cathedrale St. Etienne. This church's fame is in part derived from the wonderful mish-mash of its architecture. Some of it has been here since 844AD, but more elaborate bits have been added on at several different points. Creating an interesting Gothic/Romanesque/Flamboyant wonder.
Another way to view the city's charms is by barge along the river.
These days Toulouse is one of Europe's major aerospace centres. And if you're at all interested in space - or planes or flight of any kind, then La Cite de l'Espace will probably be an interesting place to spend a couple of hours.
The Musée des Augustins is an impressive gallery, home to a Rubens, some Rodins and several prints by Toulouse's most famous son, Toulouse-Lautrec. Or for something more modern there's Les Abattoirs - yes, the building was a slaughterhouse in the same way that the Tate Modern was a power plant.
The Toulouse table is rich and earthy, with sausages, foie gras, duck confit and truffles; and influenced from its other border, brandade de more and tapenade. For dessert you could visit Georges Larnicol on the Place du Capitole - if you haven't already.
Toulouse also has some excellent second hand shops, with some of the best around Rue Peyrolieres. And there's a flea market in the Allees Francois Verdier on the first weekend of every month. On Thursdays there's a book market in Place Arnaud-Bernard.
Our selection of the best places to stay in Toulouse range from the cheap and cheerful, perfect for those on a tight budget, to a super cool design hotel in a very central spot.
For a Toulouse City Break
- If you want to be close to the Place du Capitole, the Hotel du Taur is one of the best places to stay in Toulouse - it's only a few metres away! It's converted from an elegant, rose brick 19th Century townhouse. And with rooms for less than £50 a night it is ideal for those on a tight budget.
- If you like the idea of being close to the river, the Hotel Garonne should fit the bill. The decor is warm: all deep reds and teak, with an oriental twist.
- If you prefer things ultra modern the Hotel La Grand Balcon is the property for you. It's a super cool design hotel, with sleek, sky-themed bedrooms, modernist paintings and every comfort technology can bring you. It's also one of the best places to stay in Toulouse if you're looking for something a bit different.
- Converted from a convent, the Grand Hotel de L'Opera now has much grander furniture than in its past life. Though the building - directly opposite the Theatre du Capitole - is still as beautiful and private as ever.
Sausages and more!
- Atout Carmes is one of the best places to stay in Toulouse for foodies. It runs its own cooking classes! More of a B&B than a hotel, there are kitchenettes in each of the two rooms and two suites, so this is also ideal if you prefer a self catering option.
- If you want your visit to Toulouse to include some of the lovely surrounding countryside, then book La Maison Toulouse. It's a beautiful townhouse mansion set in lovely gardens. The fact that it only has a few rooms also makes it a good choice for families.
Still not sure which is the hotel for you? Browse though our list of all the best places to stay in Toulouse, or feel free to call or email one of our gurus for advice. If you want to extend your search take a look at our recommendations in the Lot or Dordogne.
Best Hotels in Toulouse
Hotel du Taur 38 rooms from $56Toulouse
An elegant 19th century townhouse with a cosy atmosphere. Rooms, triples, and family rooms cater to couples, families, groups and business visitors. All joyfully decorated in pinks and reds. Very central and great value.Value chicSights nearby - Just steps from the Place du CapitoleLocal markets - Good for local colour.
Hotel Garonne 14 rooms from $109Toulouse
A small and comfortable hotel near the Garonne River and the Place du Capitole. Comfortable and cosy rooms in deep reds with teak furniture and an oriental twist. A great spot to explore the city from.Sights nearby - Located in the heart of the old town.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - CN Traveller
Hotel des Beaux Arts 19 rooms from $131Toulouse
A charming hotel in central Toulouse with lovely views over the Garonne. Comfortable and cosy rooms and a good restaurant. A good spot to explore Toulouse from.Sights nearby - Located on the banks of the Garonne by the Pont NeufQuirky - An experience!Local markets - Good for local colour.
Atout Carmes 2 rooms from $131Toulouse
A contemporary chic B&B. Big bright airy suites with kitchenettes - light parquet floors, huge comfy beds, high ceilings, and views into a inner courtyard. An excellent choice for families, couples or groups, looking for a bit more privacy and independence.City StyleCooking classes - Check for timings.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.Local markets - Good for local colour.
La Maison Toulouse 5 rooms from $147Toulouse
A gorgeous townhouse mansion on the outskirts of Toulouse. Chicly renovated rooms, apartments, and one cottage, in creams and pastels. Lovely gardens, terraces and a salt water swimming pool. Ideal for families, groups and those after something less city like.Swimming Pool - Outdoor PoolGreat walks - Good for walkers.
Le Pradasse 5 rooms from $176Toulouse (Ayguesvives)
A delightful farmhouse renovation with oodles of charm. A choice of film-themed rooms, a cottage or a charming gypsy caravan. All have open beams, fireplaces and warm furnishings. An enormous gardens with fragrant herbs and an outdoor pool. Romantic, family friendly, lots of character.Country Escape - Enormous gardens, peaceful rooms, hiking trails from the doorstep, and the village's sights are just 1km awayFamilies - The cottage has two bedrooms, a sitting room and kitchen.Sights nearby - Albi Cordes sur Ciel and AlbiFull of character
Grand Hotel de L'Opera 54 rooms from $223Toulouse
A rather historic Grand Hotel formerly a convent. Excellently located opposite the Théâtre du Capitole and near to designer shops. Regal suites overlook the square, some have private balconies. Excellent meeting rooms and a spa for unwinding.Sights nearby - Perfect location bang in the centre of town.SpaLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - CN Traveller
Hotel Le Grand Balcon 31 rooms from $240Toulouse
A super cool design hotel with all the modern gadgetry necessary for a business trip or holiday break. Sleek sky-themed bedrooms with modernist paintings and funky lighting. A stylish getaway.City StyleSights nearby - Great location in the centre of townDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet