Basilique St. Sernin is one of the largest remaining Romanesque churches in the world. It takes its name from Saint Saturnin, Toulouse's first bishop in 250 CE. In 402 his remains, previously kept in the du Taur church, were moved here and a small church, Saint-Exupère, was built around them. Work on the present basilica started around 1080. It is worth visiting for the exterior brickwork, the two crypts, the tympanum over the main door depicting Christ's ascension, and the 800 sculpted column heads.
Located in the heart of the city, Place du Capitole is a historic square surrounded by the beautiful architecture around it. The square houses magnificent Capitol building also known as City Hall along with many vibrant restaurants and bars. The square also hosts many cultural events and weekly markets. Take a stroll around the square admiring the bewitching architecture.
Labeled as one of the finest gardens of Toulouse, Jardin Japonais has been a city tradition since the year 1981. Not too far from the city's convention center and administrative headquarters, this Japanese garden proffers a serene and tranquil atmosphere to escape the city bustle. The garden reflects the quintessential landscape styles adopted for those island nation's gardens built between the 14th and 16th centuries. Some of its key features include a turtle island, dry waterfall, and a tea pavilion.
This magnificent monastery and its peaceful cloister have had a stormy history. The construction of the church took more than 100 years! It is the resting place of Saint Thomas Aquinas, thought to be one of Christianity's greatest theologians. There is plenty for the eyes to feast upon at this extraordinary Gothic edifice. The floor is black marble, and the apse called The Palm of Jacobins is quite famous. On the head of one of the columns, a bull's head symbolizes the martyr, Saint Saturnin.
Pont Neuf claims to be the oldest and most beautiful bridge in Toulouse. It was built between 1544 and 1632, and Louis XIV himself crossed it in 1659. Flooding of the Garonne destroyed all the previous bridges, but this one has been in place for four centuries, thanks to tunnels above the arches, which allow water to flow away during floods. From the right bank, there is an exceptional view of the Hôtel-Dieu and the Prairie des Filtres Park; from the left, you can see the Daurade and Tunis quays. The two bridges either side are the Pont-Saint-Michel (upriver), and the Pont-Saint-Pierre (downriver). The latter offers an excellent view of the Pont Neuf.
This monastery turned museum, which dates from the 14th and 15th centuries exhibits the town's largest selection of medieval sculptures (Romanesque and Gothic) and paintings. The collection contains works from the Italian, Flemish and Dutch schools including pieces by Rubens and Le Perugin and French artists from the 16th-20th centuries. The monastery itself has a chapel with two beautiful cloisters as well as a unique collection of Romanesque capitals. The museum also organizes guided tours and lectures.
Painted in a pale rose complexion that collectively emanates from the cavalcade of pink terra-cotta buildings that dot its streets, Toulouse is the ultimate La Ville Rose, or France's bountiful 'pink city'. Set in the heart of Southwestern France in a decidedly enviable location, Toulouse's outskirts brush with Spain's border, and just beyond its sprawling metropolis is the rugged allure of the Pyrenees Mountains. Slicing across the city is the Garonne River, which connects to the Mediterranean Sea by virtue of the 17th Century Canal du Midi. Toulouse is France's fourth-largest city, yet it survives at a blissfully languid pace that is part of its sleepy charm. Despite its snail-like pace, Toulouse flourishes as a culturally forward city, boasting a range of riveting museums, colleges, and universities within its diffusive stretch. The Vieux Quartier, bisected with charming, cobblestone streets sees an impressive army of salmon-colored heritage buildings and sunlit courtyards. Beyond Toulouse's rose-hued stretch, Toulouse also harbors the headquarters of Airbus and is a leading contributor to the European air space industry.
A very active religious community uses this beautiful and unusual church, built by the Pénitents Noirs in 1625 and altered during the 19th century. The circular choir and nave are painted blue-grey with white bas-reliefs depicting Christian virtues and scenes from the New Testament. Above the altar, the only painting in the church is Saint Helen finding the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (1788). A relic of the Holy Cross is kept in a glass case near the entrance, along with a statue of Saint Jerôme. About one hundred candles are burnt here every day.
Both adults and children enjoy Toulouse's mini-train. The half-hour trip starts at the Place Wilson and takes in all the major sights of the historic center: the Place du Capitole, the Saint-Sernin basilica, the quays of the Garonne River and the Place Esquirol. Young visitors love this child-sized train whilst adults take advantage of its lazy pace to get an overview of the city. Between June 1 and September 30, the trains run everyday from 10:30a to 12p, and then from 1:45p to 6p. Outside of the tourist season, the trains run on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and school breaks (at the same hours).
The Saint-Raymond museum runs guided tours for 7-10 year olds on Sunday afternoons. The tour lasts about an hour, and covers one of the following subjects: "Roman Toulouse", "Greco-Roman gods and goddesses" or "Hercules, the true story of a Greco-Roman hero". Whilst the children are busy, parents can take in the archaeological treasures of this major museum. There is a gift shop at the entrance and drinks are served in the museum garden. Tours are conducted in French only.