Toulouse

If it is the ultra-modern face of Toulouse that interests you most, head for the suburban area, where you will discover a special amusement park, Cité de L'Espace. There you will be able to explore outer space interactively, and even walk around a model of the Mir Space Station. Toulouse's aircraft plant is also open to visitors, but only if you book a tour well in advance.

Toulouse's ancient charm, however, continues to be its old town. The most prominent landmarks of the city are within walking distance from one another. A good starting point is the Place de Capitole, usually buzzing with life. The Capitole itself is currently the location of the City Hall and the Théâtre National du Capitole, with an impressive façade of pink marble. To the west of the square is the Jacobins' Cloister, a masterpiece of Gothic art, and the Saint-Pierre des Cuisines, the oldest church in southwest France. Visit also the Toulouse Cathedral St. Etienne, whose oddly-designed architecture is the result of its four-century long construction. It will take you straight into the central gardens of Toulouse - Grand-Rond and Jardin des Plantes. Another green alternative is a walk along the Garonne River or the Canal du Midi. Canal du Midi is a 240-km long canal that connects the Garonne River with the Mediterranean Sea, built in the 17th Century. UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site in 1996.

La ville en rose or Ville Rose, as Toulouse is known because of its classic brick buildings, offers you an incredible atmosphere. After collecting memorable impressions of its sights, relax in the café or restaurant of your choice. The selection is so wide that you will be tempted to visit more than one. If you want to lounge the day away in a distinguished café, go to Bibent. Le Café des Artists at the Garonne River is fittingly bohemian, while Le Florida would suit a retro mood. When coffee is no longer enough, head for Auberge Louis XIII, a restaurant which is perfectly cozy and has local cuisine at affordable prices. Au Pois Gourmand means classy, high-quality French cuisine. For a change, try Le Damas, an excellent Syrian-Moroccan restaurant. Your night can be spent in one of Toulouse's many hip bars and clubs; you can drink fine wine and even play on a guitar at Theleme or L' Abbaye, or listen to live music at L'Ambassade or Arc en Ciel.