‘La Ville Rose’ – the Pink City, as Toulouse is affectionately known – gains its colour from the soft local stone which lends a romantic air to its streets and landmarks. But this is also a vibrant commercial centre, with the violet as an emblem, and which has historically been the home of the pastel trade – a blue dye extracted from the pastel plant. This is very much a town of many different colours. This is France, so food and wine are an important part of Toulouse holidays. There are some excellent food markets dotted around and a distinctive cuisine, with specialities including ‘cassoulet Toulousain’, a bean and pork stew, and ‘garbure’, another meaty stew with cabbage.
The largest city in the Occitane region, Toulouse is also an ideal base for excursions to Carcassonne and many local vineyards. Once happily fed and watered, visitors on a holiday to Toulouse can enjoy a wealth of heritage, including the Roman-era Saint-Sernin Basilica, the Gothic Jacobins Convent and the beautiful Renaissance Hotel d'Assezat, as well as an atmospheric criss-cross of canals. Superb shopping, a strong showing of contemporary galleries and funky street art, and a world-famous rugby club are just a few of the joyous elements of this rosy southern city.