Toulouse, known as "La Ville Rose" for its pink and orange brick facades, is an elegant French city close to the Pyrenees that fizzes with a fiesta spirit. A culture of art, music, food and wine is intertwined with the city, which puts on hundreds of events to celebrate them throughout the year. It's bursting with 2,000 years of history, from its Roman basilica to the majestic Neoclassical town hall, but as Europe’s space capital Toulouse is also famous for its modern technology.
Most of the budget-friendly hostels in Toulouse come with perks like free Wi-Fi and free breakfasts. You can stay at a converted mansion just outside of town or a hostel with a sociable common room as well as an outdoor terrace with a barbecue. To take the hassle out of cooking, pick a Toulouse hostel with its own French restaurant, serving local favourites like cassoulet or pork grilled on an open fire.
Toulouse is divided into a few key neighbourhoods. The Vieux Toulouse district (old quarter) in the heart of the city is full of historic architecture, such as the grand Place du Capitole, the main square. To the north of the square is the 11th-century St Sernin neighbourhood, where winding narrow streets are lined with pavement cafés and bars as well as museums. Because of its proximity to the city's university campus, the Arnaud Bernard area has a young vibe and contemporary feel. It's a favourite for cool shops and lively nightlife.
Top of the list of things to do here is visiting the Cité de l'Espace to discover more about missions to space. Head to the Place du Capitole square that characterises the Ville Rose with its ornate 18th-century brick facade and stop by the 11th-century Roman basilica of Saint-Sernin, which houses the 3rd-century saint's remains. Sports fan or not, watching the city's world-famous championship rugby team play is an experience in itself, as is wandering around the city's many markets.
Toulouse-Blagnac International Airport is around 30 minutes from the city on the T2 tramway line or the Tisséo shuttle bus, which both run frequently throughout the day. Trains from elsewhere in France and Europe arrive into the Matabiau SNCF train station in the centre of the city. With its many pedestrianised streets and 550km of cycle paths, it's easiest to get around Toulouse on foot or bike, or you can hop on the metro, trams and public buses.