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Host Town: Toulouse (France)

© Patrice Nin
© Patrice Nin

At the heart of the South-West of France, on the banks of the Garonne and the Canal du Midi, the city of Toulouse enjoys an envi­able geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion due to its prox­im­i­ty to the Mediter­ranean Sea, the Pyre­nees and the Atlantic Ocean. Called the Pink City” because of the col­or of the brick of the build­ings and hous­es of its old bor­oughs, Toulouse is the 4th city of France with an urban area of 1.4 mil­lion inhab­i­tants. It’s the cap­i­tal of the Haute-Garonne depart­ment, and one of the two main cities of the Occitanie.


The his­tor­i­cal cen­ter of Toulouse boasts many mon­u­ments of remark­able archi­tec­tur­al and her­itage inter­est. First, the Saint-Sernin Basil­i­ca, a jew­el of Romanesque art and Unesco World Her­itage site on the road to San­ti­a­go de Com­postela. Toulouse also has a unique work of art in the world, the Canal du Midi, list­ed as a world her­itage site by UNESCO. Anoth­er excep­tion­al ensem­ble is the Jacobins Con­vent, with its ample and lumi­nous archi­tec­ture, typ­i­cal of the south­ern Goth­ic style. It’s the head­quar­ters of the Domini­can order found­ed in Toulouse 800 years ago, and its church hous­es the relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas. There is also the Capi­tole, an impos­ing clas­si­cal style build­ing that has now become the Town Hall. Final­ly, since 2019, Toulouse has been award­ed the label City of Art and His­to­ry” by the Min­istry of Culture.


Head­quar­ters of the Air­bus Group and the Nation­al Cen­ter for Space Stud­ies, Toulouse is a strong play­er in the Euro­pean aero­nau­tics and space indus­try sec­tors. The his­to­ry of the city and its eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment are inti­mate­ly linked to the domains of air and space since the pio­neers of the Aero­postale a cen­tu­ry ago. It’s the same excel­lence that can be found behind dig­i­tal and sci­en­tif­ic research thanks to Toulouse’s engi­neer­ing schools, uni­ver­si­ties, start-ups and lab­o­ra­to­ries. Five loca­tions are devot­ed to sci­en­tif­ic and tech­ni­cal cul­ture in the Toulouse met­ro­pol­i­tan area: the Cité de l’espace, Aero­scopia, the muse­um of aero­nau­tics, the Quai des Savoirs, a cen­ter for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of sci­en­tif­ic and tech­ni­cal cul­ture, the Envol of the Pio­nniers, ded­i­cat­ed to the Aero­postale, and the Halle of the Machine which hosts a sta­ble of fan­tas­tic machines of François Delaroz­ière includ­ing the Minotaure.


Toulouse is also a big cul­tur­al city. Renowned musi­cal cul­ture, vis­i­ble thanks to the inter­na­tion­al fame of the Capitole’s Nation­al Orches­tra, to the opera and bal­lets of the nation­al Opera House du Capi­tole, to the fes­ti­vals Piano aux Jacobins, Toulouse les Orgues and Rio Loco (world music). Then there are the muse­ums of the Augustins and the Abat­toirs that attract many plas­tic arts afi­ciona­dos. We should also men­tion the Bien­nale des arts vivants, the Print­emps de Sep­tem­bre (con­tem­po­rary art fes­ti­val), the Marathon des Mots (fes­ti­val ded­i­cat­ed to read­ing), the Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, a Ciné­math­èque, an abun­dant Sai­son Pho­to, the gallery Le Château d’Eau (lead­ing place for pho­tog­ra­phy since 1974 in Toulouse), a Sai­son Cin­e­ma of near­ly 30 fes­ti­vals through­out the year and around thir­ty the­aters. Toulouse pro­pos­es a range of cul­tur­al activ­i­ties of a rare den­si­ty and diversity.