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France’s 4th largest city has a multi-faceted personality. It’s famous for being home to Airbus headquarters, hosts satellite, space and aerospace industries and has three major universities. It’s a sprawling modern city with an ancient heart at whose centre is the Place du Capitole where major events and markets take place, surrounded by architecturally glorious buildings, restaurants, the town hall and bars. Around this grand central square are a web of streets, teeming with life, brimming with museums, art galleries, shops, bars, bakeries and bistros. Cross the river Garonne via the Pont Neuf, which despite its name is actually the oldest bridge in the city, and you’ll find the arty, earthy district Saint-Cyprien, home to major museums and galleries, residential and nontouristic. Meanwhile, on the inner city outskirts a new resident roams the streets, a mythical beast bought to life – read on to discover more about the Minotaur of Toulouse… And there’s a secret part to Toulouse which visitors rarely discover. A short walk from the Capitole, but a world away from the busy centre, are streets filled with beautiful mansion houses, tiny squares where you’ll find art and local bars with a friendly welcome a part of Toulouse with a laid back, authentic vibe. Closer to the capital of Spain than the capital of France, it’s just 60 miles from the Spanish border, Toulouse has absorbed the laid back vibe and flavour of its southern neighbour. Aperitifs come with tapas on the terraces of sunny cafés and the night life has a distinctly Latin flavour…
Wander around the city You can’t go to Toulouse and not visit the Place du Capitole. The stunning 17th century neoclassical style façade of the Capitole building is the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower in this city. Around this central area are a series of districts each quite different from the other and all easy to reach on foot. Saint-Cyprien on the left bank of the River Garonne is a bit bohemian, while In the Tounis district the river Garonette, a branch of the might Garonne River, has long gone but its old bridge remains. There’s also Saint- Georges, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Étienne and the Carmes districts. Pick up a map from the tourist office and go walkabout to discover the many charms of Toulouse. Above top left: arcade at the Place du Capitole with painted ceiling; bottom left, je t'aime tree along the river Garonne; above street in St Etienne district Museums, marvels and minotaurs If it’s culture you’re after, Toulouse will definitely float your boat. With more than 20 museums there’s no lack of choice from the Airbus Museum to the Space Museum – brilliant for tech fans, the Museum of Natural History which is great for families and any number of art museums for lovers of paintings and sculptures and artefacts from antiquity to modern.
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