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Originally a small settlement near a ford over the River Garonne, the city of Toulouse was founded by the Romans in 106 BC as Tolosa. It was the capital of the Visigoths, and later of the former provinces of Aquitaine and Languedoc.

Toulouse became the cultural centre of medieval France in the 12th/13th centuries. Now it is the fourth city of France, a centre of communications, and the seat of an archbishopric and a university, founded in 1229. The town is a marketing, publishing, and banking centre, and its chief industries are textiles, chemicals, and metallurgy.

Toulouse is also the hub of France's aircraft and aerospace industry; Concorde was built here. It has also become a major European centre of scientific research, especially in aerospace, electronics, data processing, and agriculture.

Events in Toulouse

Printemps de Septembre: Every year, the city of Toulouse organizes this festival of art which covers a whole number of different genres and is completely free.

Toulouse les Orgues: The city of Toulouse throws open its doors to visitors for over a fortnight in the autumn to present its annual organ and general cultural festival.

Piano aux Jacobins: this piano festival has been going on for 20 years, attracting some of the greatest names in music to play in the cloisters of a 13th century monastery.

Must See in Toulouse

The warm glow of red bricks and tiles gives Toulouse its nickname, La ville rose (the rose red city).

The Capitole, an impressive building with an imposing façade, marks the heart of the Ville rose.

Today it houses the town hall and the Théâtre du Capitole. Its vast square is brought to life by the markets that take place there in the mornings (the main market and the marché biologique du Capitole, market selling organic produce), as well as the crowds that meet on the terraces of Toulouse's best-known cafés. All around, the colourful streets in the old part of the city provide an insight into its rich and vivid past, with their town houses, fountains and pretty squares, museums and churches.