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Toulouse (pronounced in standard French, and locally with Toulouse accent) (in Occitan: Tolosa, pronounced , primarily Tholoza) is a city in southwest Francemarker on the banks of the River Garonnemarker, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Oceanmarker and the Mediterranean Seamarker. With 1,102,882 inhabitants as of Jan. 1, 2006, the Toulouse metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in France.

Toulouse is the home base of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, and CNES's Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space center in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, Europe's largest satellite manufacturer, and EADS Astrium Satellites, EADS'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 97,000 students, is with Lillemarker the third-largest university campus of Francemarker after Parismarker and Lyonmarker.

Toulouse was the capital of the former province of Languedoc (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution). It is now the main city of the Midi-Pyrénéesmarker region, the largest region in metropolitan France. It is also the main city of the Haute-Garonnemarker department.


Toulouse is an old and ornate city in France with a long and rich history.
Historical Population
Urban Area Metropolitan

1695 43,000
1750 48,000
1790 52,863
1801 50,171
1831 59,630
1851 95,277
1872 126,936
1911 149,000
1936 213,220
1946 264,411
1954 268,865
1962 329,044
1968 439,764 474,000
1975 509,939 585,000
1982 541,271 645,000
1990 650,336 797,373
1999 761,090 964,797
2006 850,873 1,102,882
  • figures provided by French national statistics office INSEE
  • figures up to and including 1954 can be compared with each other, as the limits of the urban area did not change until 1954, being only the city of Toulouse; after 1954 the urban area starts to include suburban communes, and the limits vary year after year
  • INSEE started calculating metropolitan area data only in 1990, a metropolitan area being different from an urban area in that it also includes satellite towns and the agricultural land in between, thus better reflecting the modern-day phenomenon of commutes and hubs; metropolitan area data before 1990 are only estimates


The population of the city proper (French: commune) was 437,715 at the Jan. 1, 2006 census, with 1,102,882 inhabitants in the metropolitan area (French: aire urbaine) at the Jan. 1, 2006 census, up from 964,797 at the March 1999 census, which means a record 1.98% population growth per year between 1999 and 2006 for the metropolitan area.

Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Parismarker, Marseillemarker and Lyonmarker, and the fifth-largest metropolitan area after Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Lillemarker.

Fueled by booming aerospace and high-tech industries, population growth of 1.5% a year in the metropolitan area in the 1990s (compared with 0.37% for metropolitan France), and a record 1.98% a year in the 2000s (0.69% for metropolitan France), means the Toulouse metropolitan area hit the 1,000,000 inhabitants mark in 2000 or 2001. Boasting the highest population growth of any French metropolitan area larger than 500,000 inhabitants, Toulouse is on its way to overtake Lille as the fourth-largest metropolitan area of France (if the Belgian part of the Lille metropolitan area is not included).



Toulouse has a temperate climate, usually classified as oceanic (Cfb) under the Köppen climate classification. Toulouse is located at the junction with the Mediterranean climate, but uniform precipitation prevents it from being classified this way. A plausible argument can be made that under the Köppen climate classification, Toulouse has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa).


The town is traversed by the Canal de Garonne, the Canal du Midimarker and the rivers Garonnemarker, Touchmarker.

Government and politics

Community of the Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse

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. miles), totaling 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.

Local politics

One of the major political figures in Toulouse was Dominique Baudis, the mayor of Toulouse between 1983 and 2001, member of center-right UDF. First known as a journalist famous for his coverage of the war in Lebanonmarker, 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. Dominique Baudis is also known as a writer who wrote historical novels about the ancient counts of Toulouse, their crusade in the Middle East, and the Albigensian Crusade.

During his time as mayor, Toulouse's economy and population boomed. He tried to strengthen the international role of Toulouse (such as its Airbusoperations), as well as revive the cultural heritage of the city. The Occitan cross, flag of Languedocand 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 lisof 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'Espacemarker was founded, etc.

To deal with growth, major housing and transportation projects were launched. Perhaps the one for which Baudis is most famous is the Toulouse Metro: line A of the undergroundwas 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.

Despite all these massive undertakings, the city's economy proved so strong that Dominique Baudis was able to announce, in 1999, that the city had finished repaying its debt, making it the only large city in France ever to achieve solvency. In Europe, typical per capita city debt for a city the size of Toulouse is around 1,200 euros. Achieving solvency was a long-standing goal for Baudis, who had said that he would extinguish city debt before leaving office. Local opposition, however, has criticised this achievement, saying that the task of governments is not to run zero-deficit, but to ensure the well-being of citizens, through social benefits, housing programs for poor people, etc.

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 Lourdesmarker as his successor.Baudis has since been appointed president of the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel) in Parismarker, 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 AZFmarker 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.


Hôtel Bagis, also called Hôtel de Pierre


Religious buildings

  • Saint-Sernin Basilicamarker (the largest romanesque church in Europe) which contains what is widely considered the most beautiful pipe organ in France.
  • Notre-Dame du Taur church, 14th century
  • Church of the Jacobins and its cloister (burial of Saint Thomas Aquinas)
  • Saint-Étienne cathedralmarker, 13th to 16th century
  • Daurade basilica, 18th-19th century
  • Ursulines tower
  • Saint Nicolas church, gothic church
  • Notre-Dame de de la Dalbade church, 15th-16th century
  • Saint-Pierre des Cuisines church, 11th and 12th century with a 4th century crypt.
  • Carmelite chapel, chapel with 17th and 18th century frescoes.
  • former Augustine Convent and its gothic cloister, which now houses the Musée des Augustinsmarker.


The main industries are aeronautics, space, electronics, information technology and biotechnology. Toulouse hosts the Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines of AirbusA320, A330, A340, and A380. The others (A318, A319, A321 and A380 interior furnishing) being in Hamburgmarker, Germanymarker.Airbus intends to relocate Toulouse A320 final assembly activity to Hamburg, with A350 and A380 production going in the opposite direction as part of its Power8organization plan begun under ex-CEO Christian Streiff.

According to NewsweekToulouse ranked as the fifth most dynamic city in the world in 2006.

Colleges and universities

Toulouse has the third-largest student population in France after Lyon and Paris with 97,000 students.

The University of Toulouse(Université de Toulouse), established in 1229, is located here (now split into three separate universities). Like the universities in Oxfordmarker and Parismarker, 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 to reconcile Greek Philosophy and Christian Theology. and its engineering schools :

The most well known high schools in Toulouse are Lycée Pierre de Fermatand Lycée Saint-Sernin.


In addition to an extensive bus system, the Toulouse Metrosystem is a VAL(Véhicule Automatique Léger) metrosystem made up of driverless (automatic) rubber-tiredtrains. Line A runs for 12.5 km from Balma-Gramont to Basso Cambo. Line B, which opened in June 2007, adds 20 stations and intersects line A at Jean Jaurès. Line E (tramway) is going to be finished in 2009, and will roll from Beauzelle to Toulouse passing through Blagnac. Line C has existed since line A was completed. It is not VAL but a classical railway line with SNCFtrains; it connects to line A at Arènes. Another oft-used commuter train line (D) runs to the city of Muret.

Airports include: Railway stations include:


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 360Gb/s) network namedInfrastructure Métropolitaine de Télécommunicationshas been deployed around the city and suburbs .


A typical "Pink City" street at sunset
16th century Hôtel Dahus
Toulouse, known as the Ville Rose("Pink City") for its distinctive brick architecture , is host to a rich and diverse culture. It has a thriving scene of unusually beautiful graffiti, with the painter Miss Vanat its forefront.

It is the seat of the Académie des Jeux Floraux, the equivalent of the French Academyfor the Occitan-speaking regions of southern France, making Toulouse the unofficial capital of Occitan culture. The traditional Occitan crosswas adopted as the symbol of both the City of Toulouse and the newly-founded Midi-Pyrénées région.

The city's gastronomic specialties include Saucisses de Toulouse, a type of herb sausage, cassouletToulousain, 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.


In sports, it boasts a highly respected rugby unionteam, Stade Toulousain, which has been a five-time finalist, three-time winner in Europe's top club competition in the sport, the Heineken Cupand 17 times French champions. Toulouse hosted games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The city also has a professional football team Toulouse FC who play in ligue 1, the top level of football in Francemarker.Toulouse Olympiquerepresents the city in rugby league's Co-operative Championship.

The city also hosted games during the 1998 FIFA World Cupand the EuroBasket 1999.

Notable births and deaths in Toulouse

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Toulouse is twinnedwith:

Atlanta, Georgiamarker, United Statesmarker
Bolognamarker, Italymarker
Bristolmarker, Englandmarker, United Kingdommarker
Chongqingmarker, Chinamarker

Elchemarker, Spainmarker
Kievmarker, Ukrainemarker
Tel Avivmarker, Israelmarker
Rosariomarker, Argentinamarker

Toulouse also has accords of cooperation with the following towns:

Bydgoszczmarker, Polandmarker
Düsseldorfmarker, Germanymarker
Hanoimarker, Vietnammarker
N'Djamenamarker, Chadmarker

Ses, Senegalmarker
São José dos Camposmarker, Brazilmarker
Zaragozamarker, Spainmarker

In addition, Toulouse has an adoption city:
Câmpia Turziimarker, Romaniamarker

See also



External links

Wilson Square
Augustins cloister
The Capitol (Town hall) by night

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