Toulouse in southwest France is La Ville Rose (The Pink City), a reference to its brick buildings fashioned from the red mud of the Garonne River. Toulouse is the heart of the Occitanie region, and at its very center sits the Capitol building, where Capitulaires governed the populace from the 12th century onward. The Neoclassical building and spacious square where it stands is a tourist magnet, but it is more than a local marker. It serves as the city hall and headquarters of the Orchestra National du Capitol de Toulouse and Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse. Place du Capitole is a piazza like no other. It is vast, elegant, and inspiring. Here’s a guide to Place Du Capitole, Toulouse, for a grand holiday in modern Occitania.
Capitole de Toulouse
In the year 257 AD, St. Saturninus, the Bishop of Toulouse was seized by pagan priests. When he refused to bow to their gods, they tied him to a bull to be dragged. The violence of the bull’s ride down the temple steps and through the square put an end to his pious life. It is said that St. Saturninus was martyred at the very place where the Place du Capitole now stands.
Construction of the original capitol building started in 1190 - an auspicious time for the magistrates of Toulouse. The facade designed by Guillaume Cammas is an imperious display of local pink brink and natural stone laid by artisans and masons in 1750. The pedestrianized square and municipal building underwent numerous renovations, but some parts have stood since the 16th century. Capitole de Toulouse is difficult to miss. After marveling at its impressive structural highlights, go inside and see the majesty of Salle des Ilustres, where the works of noted French sculptors and painters are exhibited proudly.
La croix occitane de la place du Capitole (Occitan Cross on Place du Capitole)
The huge cross embossed on the very stones of the square started out as a coat of arms of the Counts of Toulouse in the Middle Ages. The pre-Christian origins of the Cross of Toulouse is valiantly manifested in a modern interpretation gracing the Place du Capitole. “La croix occitane de la place du Capitole” was designed by a French artist Raymond Moretti in 1995. People walk unknowingly on 20 tons of bronze utilized by Moretti to realize his design. The bronze lines shine brightly against the pink stone of the square. All 12 houses of the zodiac are represented on tips of the cross, which also goes by the names Occitan Cross and Languedoc Cross, referencing the Occitan language, and the Langeudoc-Rousillon region, respectively.
What to eat
Profitez des derniers rayons de soleil pour venir vous attabler au Grand Patio du Plaza qui fermera ses portes en fin...Posted by Crowne Plaza Toulouse on Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Must-try duck delicacies
You are in France and you must try the local fare. Be brave and try out dishes cooked with duck stored in its own fat and duck breast. Confit de canard (duck confit) and magnet de canard are delicacies to Toulousains.
Regional cuisine at 7 du Plaza and Le Grand Patio du Plaza
You may dine at a table set on a brick patio with vines for walls and a fountain singing nearby. The menu is regional French and Mediterranean. In the summer, 7 du Plaza extends its service to a terrace and calls it Le Grand Patio Du Plaza. If you arrive in Toulouse in other times of the year, you can still enjoy the refined and cozy offerings of 7 du Plaza. Look for it in the Crowne Plaza Toulouse hotel, just a short walk from the square at 7 Place du Capitole.
French and vegan fare at Brasserie du Grand Cafe de l'Opera
Brasserie du Grand Cafe de l'Opera is next door to Grand Hotel L'Opera at 1 Place du Capitole. Aside from staple French and European cuisine, the restaurant offers vegetarian and vegan dishes to discerning patrons. The look and feel of the restaurant is everything you expect in a historical city like Toulouse. Enjoy local wine, but don’t deny yourself the pricier champagne if you can spare the expense. It is open on Sunday evenings, and is a short distance from many hotels in the area.
Things to buy
Foie gras to bring home
For food that you can pack in your luggage, consider foie gras (goose or duck liver). They come in jars and tin cans and the open markets at Place de Capitole will have something for you to bring home.
If there are no open-air markets selling organic ingredients, souvenirs, and delicacies during your visit, exit the square towards Rue Saint-Rome. It is a principal cultural and commercial destination in Toulouse. You can either sit down at a cafe to eat, or tarry along the one-way street checking out the local shops.
It is usually sunny in Toulouse, so putting on sunscreen when you go out for a walk is advisable. Between March to May, don’t leave your quarters without an umbrella or light jacket because it could get wet in a jiffy out there.
How to get there
We recommend taking the bus from Toulouse Airport (TLS) because it’ll bring you to the city center in 26 minutes. It’s fast and cost-effective.
You may take the tram for a 30-minute journey. Try something new when you are in France.
Alternately, you may rent a car or hire a taxi/Uber and get there in less than a quarter of an hour. Renting is more expensive for sure.
If you want to take a hike from the airport, prepare to walk long distance for an hour and 35 minutes. C'est possible. It’s a good way to burn excess calories.
Place du Capitole information
Place du Capitole
Address: 31000 Toulouse, France
Department of Tourism: Visit France
Opening hours: 12am - 11:59pm (daily)
Get Trip101 in your inbox