Toulouse (UK: //; French pronunciation: [tuluz] ( listen) locally: [tuˈluzə] ( listen); Occitan: Tolosa [tuˈluzɔ], Latin: Tolosa) is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is 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 as of January 2014.
|Motto: Per Tolosa totjorn mai.
(Occitan for "For Toulouse, always more")
|Canton||Toulouse-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Jean-Luc Moudenc (LR)|
|Area1||118.3 km2 (45.7 sq mi)|
|• Urban (2010)||811.60 km2 (313.36 sq mi)|
|• Metro (2010)||5,381.49 km2 (2,077.80 sq mi)|
|Population (Jan. 2013)2||1|
|• Rank||4th in France|
|• Density||0.0085/km2 (0.022/sq mi)|
|• Urban (Jan. 2013)||935,440|
|• Metro (Jan. 2013)||1,312,304|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||31555 /|
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of the Airbus Group (formerly EADS), the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, ATR and the Aerospace Valley. It 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 also have a significant presence in Toulouse. The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 103,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university campus in France, after the universities of Paris, Lyon and Lille.
The air route between Toulouse–Blagnac and Paris Orly is the busiest in Europe, transporting 2.4 million passengers in 2014. According to the rankings of L'Express and Challenges, Toulouse is the most dynamic French city.
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.
Toulouse is in the south of France, north of the department of Haute-Garonne, on the axis of communication between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
|Climate data for Toulouse (1981–2010 averages and records 1882–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||23.3
|Average high °C (°F)||10.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.9
|Average low °C (°F)||9.4
|Record low °C (°F)||−18.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||51.3
|Average precipitation days||9.2||7.8||8.6||9.6||9.9||7.1||5.0||6.1||6.5||8.1||9.2||8.6||95.7|
|Average snowy days||2.1||2.0||1.0||0.2||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.6||1.6||7.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||87||82||77||76||76||72||68||71||74||81||85||88||78.1|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||92.5||115.0||175.1||186.1||209.2||227.6||252.6||238.8||204.0||149.2||96.0||85.3||2,031.3|
|Source #1: Météo France|
|Source #2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy days, 1961–1990)|
The Garonne Valley was a central point for trade between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic since at least the Iron Age. The historical name of the city, Tolosa (Τώλοσσα in Greek, and of its inhabitants, the Tolosates, first recorded in the 2nd century BC), it is of unknown meaning or origin, possibly from Aquitanian, or from Iberian, but has also been connected to the name of the Gaulish Volcae Tectosages.
Tolosa enters the historical period in the 2nd century BC, when it became a Roman military outpost. After the conquest of Gaul, it was developed as a Roman city of Gallia Narbonensis. In the 5th century, Tolosa fell to the Visigothic kingdom and became one of its major cities, in the early 6th century even serving as its capital, before it fell to the Franks under Clovis in 507 (Battle of Vouillé). From this time, Toulouse was the capital of Aquitaine within the Frankish realm.
In 721, Duke Odo of Aquitaine defeated an invading Umayyad Muslim army at the Battle of Toulouse. Odo's victory was a small obstacle to Muslim expansion into Christian Europe, and Muslims finally occupied a large territory including Poitiers. Charles Martel, a decade later, won the Battle of Tours, also called the Battle of Poitiers.
The Frankish conquest of Septimania followed in the 750s, and a quasi-independent County of Toulouse emerged within the Carolingian sub-kingdom of Aquitaine by the late 8th century. The Battle of Toulouse of 844, pitting Charles the Bald against Pepin II of Aquitaine, was key in the Carolingian Civil War.
County of ToulouseEdit
In the 12th century, consuls took over the running of the town and these proved to be difficult years. In particular, it was a time of religious turmoil. In Toulouse, the Cathars tried to set up a community here, but were routed by Simon de Montfort's troops. The subsequent arrival of the Inquisition led to a period of religious fervour during which time the Dominican Couvent des Jacobins was founded. Governed by Raimond II and a group of city nobles, Toulouse's urban boundaries stretched beyond its walls to the north and as far south as Saint Michel.
In the Treaty of Paris of 1229, Toulouse formally submitted to the crown of France. The county's sole heiress Joan was engaged to Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, a younger brother of Louis IX of France. The marriage became legal in 1241, but it remained childless so that after Joan's death the county fell to the crown of France by inheritance. Also in 1229, University of Toulouse was established after the Parisian model, intended as a means to dissolve the heretic movement.
Various monastic orders, like the congregation of the order of frères prêcheurs, were started. They found home in Les Jacobins. In parallel, a long period of inquisition began inside the Toulouse walls. The fear of repression obliged the notabilities to exile, or to convert themselves. The inquisition lasted nearly 400 years, making Toulouse its capital. Count Raimond VII was convicted of heresy and died in 1249 without an heir.
Within the Kingdom of FranceEdit
In 1271, Toulouse was incorporated into the kingdom of France and declared a "royal city". With this accolade, it started to transform itself into an intellectual and artistic centre. In 1323 the Consistori del Gay Saber was established in Toulouse to preserve the lyric art of the troubadours. Toulouse became the centre of Occitan literary culture for the next hundred years; the Consistori was last active in 1484.
But the 14th century was to mark a downturn in the city's fortunes. First came a pogrom against Toulouse's Jewish population by Crusaders in 1320, then, in 1348, the Black Death, then the Hundred Years' War. Famine and floods also took their toll on the city. Despite strong immigration, the population lost 10,000 inhabitants in 70 years. By 1405 Toulouse had only 19,000 people.
It was not until the 15th century that Toulouse started to prosper. Reinforcing its place as an administrative center, the city grew richer, participating in the trade of Bordeaux wine with England, as well as cereals and textiles. A parliament was set up by Charles VII and the city's merchants grew ever wealthier. Their economic well-being was mostly based on a plant-based blue dye known as pastel, made from woad, which they exported throughout Europe. These pastel merchants built grand town houses and, before long, both architecture and the fine arts flourished in the city as never before.
The bubble finally burst in the mid-16th century. Another blue dye arrived from India, known as indigo. It wiped out the pastel trade in one fell swoop. Religious conflict broke out between the Catholics and the Protestant Calvinists. At the same time, buildings were destroyed by fire and there were yet more outbreaks of famine and plague.
In 1761, a Toulouse merchant, Jean Calas, was accused of murdering his own son to prevent his conversion to Catholicism. Calas was put to death a year later. Toulouse's persecution of Protestants such as Calas was widely condemned and religious intolerance did gradually disappear.
During the remainder of the 18th century, the city was slowly modernised. This included a period of urban rebuilding, which began in earnest from 1750. New projects included the building of the Jardin Royal. The Grand Rond also dates to this period, along with the Canal de Brienne and the Quai Dillon.
Within the French RepublicEdit
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The Battle of Toulouse (1814) was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars, four days after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the nations of the Sixth Coalition. Toulouse, the regional capital, proved stoutly defended by Marshal Soult.
In 1856, the Matabiau Station was opened, launching a new age in transportation. Other transport improvements included the widening of streets to form more spacious boulevards. Gradually, Toulouse emerged as a modern French city.
During the early decades of the 20th century, Toulouse witnessed the mass arrival of immigrants from northern France, Italy and Spain. New industries were developed in the city, including aircraft and chemical manufacturing. The French airmail service was set up here as well. During the Second World War, Toulouse played a vital role in the Resistance movement.
In the 1960s, a new wave of immigrants arrived in the city, this time from Algeria. New homes were built and the city's boundaries were extended. Toulouse's industry interests have more recently expanded to include space exploration and electronics. Today, it is France's fourth-largest city.
The population of the city proper (French: commune) was 466,297 at the January 2014 census, with 1,312,304 inhabitants in the metropolitan area (within the 2010 borders of the metropolitan area), up from 1,169,865 at the January 2006 census (within the same 2010 borders of the metropolitan area). Thus, the metropolitan area registered a population growth rate of +1.34% per year between 2006 and 2011, the highest growth rate of any French metropolitan area larger than 500,000 inhabitants, although it is slightly lower than the growth rate registered between the 1999 and 2006 censuses.
Fueled by booming aerospace and high-tech industries, population growth of +1.49% a year in the metropolitan area in the 1990s (compared with +0.37% for metropolitan France), and a record +1.87% a year in the early 2000s (+0.68% for metropolitan France), which is the highest population growth of any French metropolitan area larger than 500,000 inhabitants, means the Toulouse metropolitan area overtook Lille as the fourth-largest metropolitan area of France at the 2006 census.
A local Jewish group estimates there are about 2,500 Jewish families in Toulouse. A Muslim association has estimated there are some 35,000 Muslims in town.
Government and politicsEdit
Community of the Agglomeration of Greater ToulouseEdit
The Community of Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse (Communauté d'agglomération du Grand Toulouse) was created in 2001 to better coordinate transport, infrastructure and economic policies between the city of Toulouse and its immediate independent suburbs. It succeeds a previous district which had been created in 1992 with less powers than the current council. It combines the city of Toulouse and 24 independent communes, covering an area of 380 km2 (147 sq mi), totalling a population of 583,229 inhabitants (as of 1999 census), 67% of whom live in the city of Toulouse proper. As of February 2004 estimate, the total population of the Community of Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse was 651,209 inhabitants, 65.5% of whom live in the city of Toulouse. Due to local political feuds, the Community of Agglomeration only hosts 61% of the population of the metropolitan area, the other independent suburbs having refused to join in. Since 2009, the Community of agglomeration has become an urban community (in French: communauté urbaine).
One of the major political figures in Toulouse was Dominique Baudis, the mayor of Toulouse between 1983 and 2001, member of the centrist UDF. First known as a journalist famous for his coverage of the war in Lebanon, 36-year-old Dominique Baudis succeeded his father Pierre Baudis in 1983 as mayor of Toulouse. (Pierre Baudis was mayor from 1971 to 1983.) The Baudis dynasty succeeded in turning Toulouse into a center-right stronghold, whereas historically the city had been left-leaning since the 19th century.
During his time as mayor, Toulouse's economy and population boomed. He tried to strengthen the international role of Toulouse (such as its Airbus operations), as well as revive the cultural heritage of the city. The Occitan cross, flag of Languedoc and symbol of the counts of Toulouse, was chosen as the new flag of the city, instead of the traditional coat of arms of Toulouse (which included the fleur de lis of the French monarchy). Many cultural institutions were created, in order to attract foreign expatriates and emphasise the city's past. For example, monuments dating from the time of the counts of Toulouse were restored, the city's symphonic concert hall (Halle aux Grains) was refurbished, a city theater was built, a Museum of Modern Art was founded, the Bemberg Foundation (European paintings and bronzes from the Renaissance to the 20th century) was established, a huge pop music concert venue (Zénith, the largest in France outside Paris) was built, the space museum and educational park Cité de l'Espace was founded, etc.
To deal with growth, major housing and transportation projects were launched. Perhaps the one for which Baudis [weasel words] is most famous is the Toulouse Metro: line A of the underground was opened in 1993, and Baudis succeeded in having work started on line B (which opened in 2007), despite strong local opposition to the anticipated costs. The creation of a system of underground car parking structures in Toulouse city centre was sharply criticised by the Green Party.
In 2000, Dominique Baudis was at the zenith of his popularity, with approval rates of 85%. He announced that he would not run for a fourth (6-year) term in 2001. He explained that with 3 terms he was already the longest-serving mayor of Toulouse since the French Revolution; he felt that change would be good for the city, and that the number of terms should be limited. He endorsed Philippe Douste-Blazy, then UDF mayor of Lourdes as his successor. Baudis has since been appointed president of the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel) in Paris, the French equivalent of the American FCC.
Philippe Douste-Blazy narrowly won in the 2001 elections, which saw the left making its best showing in decades. Douste-Blazy had to deal with a reinvigorated political opposition, as well as with the dramatic explosion of the AZF plant in late 2001.
In March 2004, he entered the national government, and left Toulouse in the hands of his second-in-command Jean-Luc Moudenc, elected mayor by the municipal council. In March 2008, Moudenc was defeated by the Socialist Party's candidate Pierre Cohen.
At the next elections in 2014 Moudenc defeated Cohen in a rematch to re-take the job with more than 52% of the votes.
|Mayor||Term start||Term end||Party|
|Raymond Badiou||1944||September 1958||SFIO|
|G. Carrère||September 1958||16 October 1958||SFIO|
|Louis Bazerque||16 October 1958||1971||SFIO|
|Pierre Baudis||March 1971||March 1983||UDF|
|Dominique Baudis||March 1983||23 January 2001||UDF|
|Guy Hersant||23 January 2001||23 March 2001||UDF|
|Philippe Douste-Blazy||23 March 2001||30 April 2004||UDF|
|Françoise de Veyrinas||30 April 2004||6 May 2004||UMP|
|Jean-Luc Moudenc||6 May 2004||17 March 2008||UMP|
|Pierre Cohen||17 March 2008||4 April 2014||PS|
|Jean-Luc Moudenc||4 April 2014||incumbent||UMP|
The Capitole de Toulouse (mainly 18th century), houses the Hôtel de Ville, the Théâtre du Capitole (opera house), and the Donjon du Capitole (16th century). It is located on the Place du Capitole. Cité de l'espace (City of Space) is a theme park of space exploration. The Médiathèque José Cabanis is a library. The Jardin des Plantes is a large park spanning several blocks, including a museum, cafés, activities for children and a botanical garden. Toulouse has many hôtel particulier (large single family homes usually circling an inner courtyard), the most significant in Toulouse is the Hôtel d'Assézat, which now houses five centuries of European art from the Renaissance to the 19th century.
Toulouse Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toulouse. Saint-Sernin Basilica, part of the Way of Saint James UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Romanesque church in Europe. It contains what is widely considered to be the most beautiful pipe organ in France. The Daurade basilica, of the 18th–19th century, was founded as a temple to the Roman god Apollo before conversion to Christianity in 410 AD. The Church of the Jacobins, (French: Ensemble conventuel des Jacobins) in Toulouse is the burial place of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
The main industries are aeronautics, space, electronics, information technology and biotechnology. Toulouse hosts the Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines of Airbus A320, A330, A350 and A380. (A320 lines also exist in Hamburg, Germany, Tianjin, China, and Mobile, Alabama, USA.) Airbus has its head office in Blagnac, near Toulouse. Airbus's France division has its main office in Toulouse. Toulouse also hosts the headquarters of ATR, Sigfox and Groupe Latécoère. The Concorde supersonic aircraft was also constructed in Toulouse.
Colleges and universitiesEdit
The University of Toulouse (Université de Toulouse), established in 1229, is located here (now split into three separate universities). Like the universities in Oxford and Paris, the University of Toulouse was established at a time when Europeans were starting to translate the writings of Arabs of Andalus and Greek philosophers. These writings challenged European ideology—inspiring scientific discoveries and advances in the arts—as society began seeing itself in a new way. These colleges were supported by the Church, in hopes of reconciling Greek philosophy and Christian theology.
- Catholic University of Toulouse
- Université Toulouse I, Toulouse School of Economics and Institut d'études politiques de Toulouse
- University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail
- Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse III)
Toulouse is also the home of Toulouse Business School (TBS), Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), the Institut supérieur européen de gestion group (ISEG Group), the Institut supérieur européen de formation par l'action (ISEFAC), E-Artsup and several engineering schools:
- ICAM Toulouse (Institut catholique d'arts et métiers)
- INSA Toulouse
- ISAE SUPAERO (Institut supérieur de l'aéronautique et de l'espace)
- ENAC (École Nationale de l'Aviation Civile)
- INP ENSEEIHT (École Nationale Supérieure d'Électronique, d'Électrotechnique, d'Informatique, d'Hydraulique et des Télécommunications)
- ENSFEA (École nationale supérieure de formation de l’enseignement agricole)
- INP ENSIACET (École nationale supérieure d'ingénieurs en art chimique et technologique)
- INP ENSAT ('École Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse)
- INP ENM (École Nationale de la Météorologie)
- EPITA (École pour l'informatique et les techniques avancées)
- EPITECH (École pour l'informatique et les nouvelles technologies or European Institute of Information Technology)
- IPSA (Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées)
- EIPurpan (École d'ingénieurs de Purpan)
According to the French newspaper "L'Etudiant", Toulouse is the best city in France to study, and according to the British company QS (Quacquarelli Symonds), Toulouse is the 46th best student city in the world.
Primary and secondary schoolsEdit
The most well known high schools in Toulouse are Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat, Lycée Saint-Joseph and Lycée Saint-Sernin. In 2012 a Jewish school was struck by an attack in which a rabbi, his two sons and the daughter of the school's director were murdered by Mohammed Merah.
International schools serving area expatriates are in nearby Colomiers:
In addition to an extensive bus system, the Toulouse Metro is a VAL (Véhicule Automatique Léger) metro system made up of driverless (automatic) rubber-tired trains. Line A runs for 12.5 km (7.8 mi) from Balma-Gramont in the north-east to Basso Cambo in the south-west. Line B, which opened in June 2007, serves 20 stations north to south and intersects line A at Jean Jaurès.
The main railway station, with regional and national services, is Toulouse-Matabiau.
Line C has existed since line A was completed. It is not VAL but an urban railway line operated by SNCF. It connects to line A at Arènes. Two other stations located in Toulouse are also served by line C. Lardenne, formerly named "Gare des Capelles", changed its name in September 2003 when line C opened. Le TOEC station opened on 1 September 2003 with the creation of line C, allowing an urban train service in Toulouse and close western suburbs.
The tramway line T1 (operating since December 2010), runs from Beauzelle to Toulouse passing through Blagnac. All urban bus, metro and tram services are operated by Tisséo. Tramway line T2 is a branch of the first line serving notably Toulouse Blagnac airport.
In 2007, a citywide bicycle rental scheme called VélôToulouse was introduced, with bicycles available from automated stations for a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly subscription.
Toulouse is the home of Bonhoure Radio Tower, a 61-metre high lattice tower used for FM and TV transmission. In 2001 a large (100 km) optical fiber (symmetric 360Gbit/s) network named Infrastructure Métropolitaine de Télécommunications was deployed around the city and suburbs.
The Théâtre du Capitole is the home of opera and ballet; there has been a theatre on the site since 1736. The Orchestre National du Capitole, long associated with Michel Plasson, plays at the Halle aux Grains.
Le Château d'Eau, an old 19th-century water-tower, was converted as a gallery in 1974 by Jean Dieuzaide, a French photographer from Toulouse and is now one of the oldest public places dedicated to photography in the world. Toulouse's art museums include the Musée des Augustins, the Musée des Abattoirs, the Musée Georges Labit, and the Fondation Bemberg in the Hôtel d'Assézat. The Musée Saint-Raymond is devoted to Antiquity and the Muséum de Toulouse to natural history.
Toulouse is the seat of the Académie des Jeux Floraux, the equivalent of the French Academy for the Occitan-speaking regions of southern France, making Toulouse the unofficial capital of Occitan culture. The traditional Cross of Toulouse, emblem of the County of Toulouse and commonly widespread around all of Occitania during the Middle Ages is the symbol of the city and of the newly founded Midi-Pyrénées région, as well as a popular Occitan symbol.
The city's gastronomic specialties include the Saucisse de Toulouse, a type of sausage, cassoulet Toulousain, a bean and pork stew, and garbure, a cabbage soup with poultry. Also, foie gras, the liver of an overfed duck or goose, is a delicacy mainly made in the Midi-Pyrénées.
The city also has a professional football team, Toulouse FC, who play in Ligue 1, the highest level of football in France, and won the 1957 Coupe de France Final. The club play at the Stadium Municipal, which was a venue during the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2007 Rugby World Cup, as well as hosting important club rugby games and several Rugby League World Cups. Toulouse was also a host of EuroBasket 1999.
Several notable Toulousains have been scientists, such as Jean Dausset, 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; 17th-century mathematician Pierre de Fermat, who spent his life in Toulouse, where he wrote Fermat's Last Theorem and was a lawyer in the city's Parlement; Paul Sabatier, 1912 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Albert Fert, 2007 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics who grew up in Toulouse where he attended the Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat and Jean Tirole, owner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, chairman and founder of the Toulouse School of Economics along with Jean-Jacques Laffont.
Musically, Toulouse is one of the two controversial, disputed birthplaces of Carlos Gardel (the other being Tacuarembo, Uruguay), probably the most prominent figure in the history of the tango. The city's most renowned songwriter is Claude Nougaro.
Concerning arts, Toulouse is the birthplace of Impressionist painter Henri Martin as well as sculptors Alexandre Falguière and Antonin Mercié. Moreover, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Antoine Bourdelle were trained at the Toulouse fine arts school. Post Impressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's (1864-1901) father was Count Alphonse Charles de Toulouse-Lautrec Monfa (1838-1913) and was part of an aristocratic family of Counts of Toulouse, Odet de Foix, Vimcomte de Lautrec and the Viscounts of Montfa. French graffiti artist Cyril Kongo was born in Toulouse in 1969.
Twin towns and sister citiesEdit
Toulouse is twinned with:
Toulouse also has accords of cooperation with the following towns:
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