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.