Population 439,553 (2008)
Area 811.60 km2
Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc (UMP)
|Points of interest Basilica of St Sernin - Toulouse, Cite de lespace, Theatre du Capitole, Toulouse Cathedral, Musee Saint-Raymond|
Colleges and Universities Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse 1 University Capitole, University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail, Toulouse Business School, Institut national des sciences appliquees de Toulouse
Toulouse ( Occitan: , Latin: ) is the capital city of the southwestern French department of Haute-Garonne, as well as of the Midi-Pyrenees region. It lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean, and 580 km (360 mi) from Paris. With 1,250,251 inhabitants at the January 2011 census, the Toulouse metropolitan area is the fourth-largest in France, after Paris (12.3 million), Lyon (2.2 million), and Marseille (1.7 million).
- Map of Toulouse
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Map of Toulouse
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, the Airbus Group (former EADS), ATR and the Aerospace Valley.
The city also hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNESs Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, and Astrium Satellites, Airbus Groups 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 103,000 students, is the fourth-largest university campus of France after Paris, Lyon and Lille.
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Toulouse 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 Midi-Pyrenees 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, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
The city is traversed by the Canal de Brienne, the Canal du Midi and the rivers Garonne, Touch and Hers-Mort.
The Garonne Valley was a focal point for trade between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic since at least the Iron Age. The historical name of the city, Tolosa (??????? 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 Vouille). 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. Odos 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 renowned 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 Capitole de Toulouse (mainly 18th century), houses the Hotel de Ville, the Theatre du Capitole (opera house), and the Donjon du Capitole (16th century). It is located on the Place du Capitole. Cite de lespace (City of Space) is a theme park of space exploration. The Mediatheque Jose Cabanis is a library. The Jardin des Plantes is a botanical garden. The most significant Hotel particulier (palace) in Toulouse is the Hotel dAssezat.
The Bazacle is a ford across the Garonne, built in the late 12th century and also used for hydroelectricty. The river is crossed by the Pont Neuf from the 16th century.
The main industries are aeronautics, space, electronics, information technology and biotechnology. Toulouse hosts the Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines of Airbus A320, A330, A340, and A380, the others (A318, A319, A321 and A380 interior furnishing) being in Hamburg, Germany. 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 Power8 organization plan begun under ex-CEO Christian Streiff. Airbus has its head office in Blagnac, near Toulouse. Airbuss France division has its main office in Toulouse. Toulouse also hosts the headquarters of ATR and Groupe Latecoere.
The Theatre 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 Chateau dEau, 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. Toulouses art museums include the Musee des Augustins, the Musee Georges Labit, and the Fondation Bemberg in the Hotel dAssezat. The Musee Saint-Raymond is devoted to Antiquity and the Museum de Toulouse to natural history.
Toulouse is the seat of the Academie 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-Pyrenees region, as well as a popular Occitan symbol.
The citys gastronomic specialties include Saucisses 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-Pyrenees.