Toulouse is the capital city of the southwestern French department of Haute-Garonne, as well as of the Occitanie region. The city lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean, and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France with 466,297 inhabitants in January 2014. The Toulouse Metro area is, with 1 312 304 inhabitants as of 2014, France’s 4th metropolitan area after Paris, Lyon and Marseilles and ahead of Lille and Bordeaux.
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, Galileo positioning system, SPOT satellite system, Airbus Group (former EADS), ATR and Aerospace Valley.
The city also hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, and Astrium Satellites, Airbus Group’s satellite system subsidiary, also have a significant presence in Toulouse. Its world-renowned university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 103,000 students, is the fourth-largest university campus of France after Paris, Lyon and Lille.
The city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the late Middle Ages and early modern period (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution), making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the Occitanie region, the largest region in metropolitan France.
A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose (“the Pink City”), Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Canal du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
Let the Ville Rose reveal all its history and charm as you travel along its streets and monuments.