The « Pink city » is envied for its popularity: its status as a flagship of
France’s aeronautics and its easy-going lifestyle are no strangers to that esteem.
Two activities are enough to get an understanding of Toulouse : its aeronautics and its rugby.
France’s fourth city, with a population of just over 420,000, the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region – the country’s largest – regroups some of the national flagships of high technology (aeronautics, space, information technology, biotechnology). The headquarters of Airbus Industries, which made the city one of its two design and manufacturing hubs, Toulouse is considered the European capital of aeronautics and space. These industries at the forefront of research sustain the image of Toulouse as a city of excellence and dynamism, as does the success of Stade Toulousain, France’s most honoured club.
Charm and excellence
It’s hardly a surprise to see so many students attracted by life on the banks of the Garonne. An intake of 140,000 at three universities and 14 grandes écoles makes it the leading French provincial university town. The «Pink city», so named after the bricks used in many of the 15th Century buildings, the golden age of trade and the use of pastel colours, will not fail to charm. The New Zealanders, Fijians and even French rugby fans who wander through the streets in 2007 will not fail to appreciate its rich gastronomy, such as the cassoulet and other duck specialities, and cultural life. The Théâtre du Capitole, home of the « Bel Canto » and opera cannot be ignored. As well as dance and theatre productions the centre also houses the internationally-recognised National Orchestre.
The Capitole, the soul of the city where the town hall can be found, is a symbol of the architectural heritage which led to the city being classed an artistic and historical monument (its 220 hectares of listed buildings are the largest in France). Tolosa, as it was called by the Romans when they founded it in the 4th Century BC, was strongly influenced by the Cathar tradition. A heretical, warring mediaeval Christian sect. The construction of the Canal du Midi under Louis XIV, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, linked the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and gave Toulouse a new momentum which built up unceasingly over time.
Some facts aboutToulouse:
Population : 425,000
Agglomeration : 761,000
No 1 in Europe for aeronautics and No 2 in the world
No 2 in Europe for space
140,000 students, France’s second biggest university town
10,500 scientists in 400 research units