Host Town: Toulouse (France)

La chapelle de la Grave © Patrice Nin
La chapelle de la Grave © Patrice Nin

Between heritage and modernity... Toulouse, a city of arts and sciences

Toulouse is located in the heart of the South-West, on the banks of the Garonne and the Canal du Midi, with a privileged geographical location between the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees and the Atlantic. It is the fourth largest city in France with an urban area of 1.4 million inhabitants, one of the two main metropolises in Occitania and the capital of the Haute-Garonne department.

Its historic centre is home to some remarkable monuments: the Saint-Sernin basilica, a jewel of Romanesque art and Unesco World Heritage Site which is part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and a unique work of engineering art, the Canal du Midi, also listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Another exceptional ensemble is the Jacobins convent, a typical Southern Gothic building. The Capitole, an impressive classical-style building that has become the city hall, has housed the Opera since 1818. In 2019, Toulouse was awarded the Ville d’art et d’histoire label by the Ministry of Culture.

Home to the Airbus Group and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, Toulouse is a stronghold of the European aeronautics and space industry. Its history and economic development have been linked to flight since the pioneers of Aéropostale, a century ago. Toulouse is also a city of excellence in digital and scientific research thanks to engineering schools, universities, start-ups, and laboratories.

In Toulouse, music is essential, from the most sophisticated to the noisiest. Music is a permanent live experience in the city with its historical concert venues. The extent of musical taste and practice has generated demanding but ever-enthusiastic audiences. The city has earned an international musical reputation with the Orchestre National du Capitole, the operas and ballets of the Opéra National du Capitole, along with its major events: Piano aux Jacobins, Toulouse les Orgues, Rio Loco, Electro Alternativ, Siestes Électroniques, Festival de Toulouse and Rose Festival.

Toulouse promotes scientific culture through the Cité de l’espace, the Museum or the Quai des Savoirs, the Envol des Pionniers and Aeroscopia. At the crossroads of technology, entertainment and graphic arts, the Halle de la Machine brings to life the stable of the eponymous company.

The city includes the Augustins and Abattoirs museums and the Château d’eau gallery, a flagship venue for photography since 1974. Deeply involved in the world of cinema, it boasts France’s second largest Cinémathèque with nearly 30 annual festivals, and also hosts the Cartoon Forum.

If you add events like the Marathon des Mots (reading festival), the Biennale des arts vivants, the Nouveau Printemps (contemporary art), as well as some thirty theatres, Toulouse offers a cultural life of rare density and diversity.