Toulouse Tourist Attractions

Toulouse, a city on the gently curving River of Garonne, is served by the Toulouse Blagnac International Airport. This airport provides a very important gateway for the beautiful Midi-Pyrenees region of France, and is a busy establishment that handles more than nine million passengers per annum. It is also a hub for several airline companies, such as Air France. Toulouse attractions are plentiful, and therefore many of the airport's passengers are tourists, from local and international destinations. The city is charming, with a large number of fascinating historical sights, and the Canal du Midi, which is considered as the oldest canal in Europe.

Toulouse has a population of over 850,000 people, who mainly speak French, and is found just north of the border between Spain and France. It is also to the south of Limoges and Montauban, to the west of Montpellier and Nimes and to the southeast of Bordeaux. Toulouse promotes itself as the "City of Light", or the "Ville de Lumière", in French, as there are many lovely illuminated sights at night. The city is also a prominent French university city, with the largest of student population in the whole country. Transport in the city is provided by trains and buses, but many of the main sights can be reached on foot when exploring the historic district, or the Vieux Toulouse District (Old Quarter). Nearby is the St. Sernin District, with a number of old buildings and museums, and the Matabiau District is where the main train station can be found. The Arnaud Bernard District is just northwest of the city center and is popular area for nightlife activities and trendy boutiques. This district is nearby to the Toulouse University as well.

Tourists will find the perfect mix of historical and modern attractions in Toulouse. A more modern one to note is the La Cité de L'Espace, or the Space City, located at Parc de la Plaine, Avenue Jean Gonord. It is found just outside of the town, but is easily accessible from the Toulouse ring road. Space City is considered as one of Toulouse's main attractions. On the grounds are life-size spaceships, and there are many wonderful interactive displays that reveal the latest technology and scientific innovations. Most appreciated is perhaps the exact replica of the Mir Space Station. The facility also features a 360-degree planetarium and an IMAX cinema, and children always thoroughly enjoy the Stellarium, a planetarium that is geared towards younger minds. Space City is open during various hours on most days of the week, and there is an admission charge.

A few of the magnificent religious buildings of Toulouse include the Cathédrale St. Étienne, Basilique St. Sernin and the Église Des Jacobins. The first mentioned is perhaps best know for its 12th century nave, that is unusually misaligned from its choir, however, its eclectic mix of styles is quite interesting as well. It also has a beautiful rose window and a decorative belfry. The Basilique St. Sernin is at Place St. Sernin, and is a former Benedictine abbey church. It is possibly the largest Romaneque building in Western Europe, and features an octagonal tower and spire. The third building has been in existence since the thirteenth century and is a Jacobin monastery. It has an impressive vaulted ceiling, and is also the location of the ashes of St. Thomas that are cleverly displayed in an illuminated tomb.

Other popular attractions include the Théâtre Garonne and the Clément Ader Site. The theatre is found on the left bank of the River Garonne and provides entertainment through a varied program of performances throughout the year. The Clement Ader aircraft factory is an interesting experience. There are tours of the vast facility that can be enjoyed by tourists that show off its many attractions, of which one is the location of where the great Airbus A330/340 is assembled. This factory was also the place where the first ever Concorde was built. Tours of the factory can only be booked at least two days in advance, and all visitors must have their photo IDs with them. Children under six may enter free of charge.

One of the most prominent of Toulouse landmarks is the Canal du Midi that was built in the seventeenth century. Although it was built for more functional purposes, today it is mainly used by pleasure boats. Lovely paths alongside it provide an excellent place for walkers, runners and cyclists to perform their daily exercise routines. The canal has recently been recognized by UNESCO, for its great historical importance, and is the oldest canal in Europe that is still in use. Additional landmarks of the city include the city hall, or the Le Capitole, Le Bazacle, a monument to water power, and Halle Aux Grains Stadium. Roman gladiators also battled in the Roman Amphitheatre of Toulouse-Purpan many years ago, and this is the only Roman site that can be viewed in its entirety. There is a charge to enter.

The museums in Toulouse include the Musée Labit, offering insight to the collections and travels of George Labit, the Musée St. Raymond with a remarkable collection of Roman sculptures and the Paul Depuy Museum, with a wide range of interesting displays of pottery, ironwork, gold pieces and textiles that date as far back as the fourteenth century. Many of the museum's displays are also dedicated to items that were found in Toulouse and the surrounding region. There is a charge to enter the Toulouse museums, however, free entry is allowed on the first Sunday of every month.

Toulouse has a number of green areas that are enjoyed by residents and visitors. The Jardin Royale was the first park to be created in the city, and is today is one of the most popular. It is filled with beautiful flowers and exotic plants, and has a lovely duck pond. The Les Jardin des Plantes is a favourite amongst children, as it has a play area, a model train, pony rides and fairground rides. If you are visiting Toulouse in the summer and need a place to swim, the Parc du Ramier is ideal, as it has a large outdoor swimming pool.

Toulouse attractions are perfect for many days of entertainment, but there are also spectacular areas nearby to explore. These include the medieval village of Albi, Montauban, with a number of historical landmarks, and Moissac, featuring the Abbey of Saint-Pierre. The Toulouse Tourist Office is found on the square Charles de Gaulle, or visitors can find more information regarding Toulouse attractions at the Toulouse Blagnac Airport when they arrive.

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