One of France’s largest cities, Toulouse is known as the Ville Rose (the “Pink City”) with many of its old buildings made of beautifully faded red brick. This is also a term used tongue-in-cheek to describe the large and welcoming gay community. It has one of the country’s biggest concentrations of gay bars, clubs, and saunas. Toulouse’s colorful Marche des Fiertés, the pride march held each June, is the year’s biggest street party.
Toulouse is a city with business on its mind, as this is France’s center for aviation. But it’s also a city proud of its past, which is evident in its lovingly restored buildings. It has revered churches, grand public spaces, and the Canal du Midi, a 150-mile-long engineering marvel that has been designated a United Nations World Heritage Site. Visit Toulouse has pages of what to see, do, eat, and drink, and where to stay.
All international flights bound for Toulouse land at Blagnac Airport, about 5 miles northwest of the city. The Airport Shuttle bus departs every 20 minutes and takes appproximately 20 minutes to arrive at Toulouse Matabiau train station. Tickets, at 8 euros each way, may be bought at ticket machines or at the bus station. Ticket are valid for 3 transfers across 3 different lines for a period of 90 minutes after validation. The T2 tram also offers direct connections between city center and the airport every 15 minutes -- a 21 minute trip for 8 euros each way. For more connections see the airport website To & From pages.
The main railway station is Gare Matabiau, 64 boulevard Pierre Semard, with trains to and from points around France, and connections to all of Europe - see SNCF. An information center at the station has English-language staff and materials, 9am-5:30pm.
The historic center is very small, so you’ll want to stroll. Buses, trams and the metro can get you to more distant destinations. For public transportation info see the website of Tisseo. Tickets can be purchased on the bus or at many tabacs around town. For bike rentals there are scores of VéloToulouse stands around town where the swipe of a credit card provides easy access to wheels. Their website has details, and an interactive map of pickup and return areas. If your French is rusty, see the overview in English at the AIT (American expat site) transportation web page - along with other useful tips.
Currency & Money
France is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. The many ATMs in the downtown area will dispense euros direct from an American or Canadian dollar account, but consult with your bank before leaving home to see if it has French partner banks that can save on cash withdrawal charges. Also get a credit card with an imbedded chip and pin number, now required by many ticket machines in Europe, and get your bank's 24-hour non-800 service number in case of card loss.
Local Media & resources
The website of Arc en Ciel Toulouse, the city's gay activist group, also lists area gay hangouts and upcoming events.
Extra-Muros Toulouse is a social club of 20 years, for outdoor gay/lesbian adventures of mountain hikes, skiing, camping, rafting, beach trips - as well as bowling nights, picnics, restaurant visits, theater and musical soirées.
Têtu is the national gay magazine, packed with interesting features and profiles. It’s also one of the slickest gay magazines ever produced and they publish periodic listings guides for all of France.
See listings of gay and gay-friendly bars, saunas and some hotel and restaurants suggestions, with map locations and website links, at our gay Toulouse listings pages.
Alezan Hôtel & Résidence (2, allée Antoine Osète), Toulouse Hippodrome near airport and city transport to center, 197 studios and kitchenette apartments, good prices, breakfast, WiFil.
Chambre d'Hôtes Centre-ville Toulouse (1, rue Michel Ange, Matabiau), central, homey, one-room gay B&B chez Alain and Rony, breakfast, laundry services.
Crowne Plaza Toulouse (7, place du Capitole, Center), 172 rooms and suites, concierge, fitness center, Club Lounge, Grand Patio al fresco dining.
Hôtel Croix-Baragnon (17, rue Croix Baragnon, Center), budget-priced modern rooms at center, buffet breakfast, WiFi.
Hôtel de France (5 Rue d'Austerlitz), 1890 building, 63 moderately-priced rooms, breakfast, cable TV, WiFi.
Hôtel Heliot (3, rue Héliot, Place d'Armenie), 12 quiet, central guestrooms, all with bath/wc, breakfast, satellite TV, WiFi.
Hotel Patio Wilson (7 rue Lafaille), 21 modern 2-star guestrooms near place Wilson, breakfast, satellite TV, WiFi, airport shuttle.
Hôtel Le Président (45 rue Raymond IV), 31 rooms, patios, satellite TV, buffet breakfast, secure parking, moderate prices.
Hôtel Riquet (92 rue Pierre Paul Riquet, Center), 56 Club and Executive Class rooms and suites at the center, 54-208 euros per night; breakfast buffet, private parking, spa, massage services, WiFi.
Hôtel Royal Wilson (6 rue Labéda), 27 rooms, breakfast, Wifi, moderate prices, central location, central courtyard patio, breakfast in lounge or room, satellite TV, WiFi, secure parking.
Mercure Toulouse Saint Georges (1 rue Paul Mériel), 148 rooms, 28 apartments by rue Saint-Jérôme; business center, laundromat, WiFi, bar, room service meals and snacks.
In Haute Garonne countryside, a 45-minute drive west of Toulouse, La Mariette gay guesthouse offers four guestrooms in a renovated stone farmhouse, clothing-optional pool and Jacuzzi, gardens and terrace overlooking rolling hills of sunflowers and wheat, breakfast and WiFi. Open June through September.
L'Autre (30 rue de Stalingrad), chic aperitif bar, DJs: nu-jazz to deep house, duck snacks.
Le Bear's (44 boulevard de la Gare), men/bears bar near place Jeanne-d’Arc; naked and underwear nights, karaoke, videos.
Le Limelight (23 boulevard Riquet), trendy gay and lesbian dance club and lounge from 10pm, men/women mix, heated terrace cocktail bar, shows.
The Must Club (19 rue Caffarelli), Thursday-Saturday gay-friendly lounge, two ambiences, DJs/VJs play charts, Caribbeane, Urban and World music; women's nights.
P3 (28 rue Gabriel Péri), men's bar, dance club, drag shows, smoking area, back room.
Le Quinquina (26 rue Peyras), well-established gay bar, heated terrrace, theme party nights, tapas and mojitos, open daily except Sunday.
Le Shangaï (12 rue de la Pomme), trendy young gay/ mixed crowd dance "boîte," men's cruise area.
CLOSED: Le Grand Cirque (14 boulevard Riquet), hard-cruising men-only bar; La Luna Loca (9 chemin du Prat Long), women's bar/ social evenings; Mojito Bar (13 rue des Couteliers) gay/lesbian and friends' warm-up bar, tapas, bears' nights.
Le Colonial Sauna (1 allée Antoine Osète), Têtu readers' "best," big, plush men's sanua, massage sevices, internet cafe.
Le KS Sauna (6 rue Saint-Ferréol), men's sauna, bears' nights, black-out nights, massage services.
Au Peilharot (23 rue des Blanchers), local/regional foods, seasonal menus; soup, salad, cold cuts, choice among three entrees and three sides from the buffet table.
Blue Teapot (6 bis, impasse de la Colombette), gay-friendly cafe/restaurant, pleasant terrace, fresh/bio foods.
Café Jean (75 allée Jean Jaurès), bistro toulousain, classic lunchtime menu, evening chef's creative cuisine, fresh, local and seasonal.
Carthel (230 avenue de Grande Bretagne), lunch and dinner formula daily menu starters, mains and desert options; cocktail bar.
Chez Jeannot | Bar à Huîtres des Carmes (2 Place des Carmes, Center), fifth-generation family seafood restaurant, oyster bar and market.
Le Chacha (50 avenue d'Italie), French traditional cuisine re-interpreted for today, lunch/dinner, beer/wine/cocktails; wood-fire BBQ, large terrace, special Friday soirées.
Le Cri de la Truffe (9 rue Joutx Aigues), classic Southwest regional French cuisine, fish, poultry/duck specialities.
Le Nouveau Thé (7 rue Tolosane), tea salon, fine dessert pâtisserie, light meals, teas and coffees.
Maison des Plats Canailles (7 rue Jean Aicard), fresh produce, traditional French cuisine; bargain-price Monday-Saturday lunch, Thursday-Saturday dinner.
Villa Tropezienne (8-10 place Victor Hugo), French/Mediterranean restaurant, wine bar, tapas, DJs, gourmet grocery.
Sex Shops/ Cinemas
Lynx Vidéo ( 2 rue Lafon), daily 10am-2am sex shop, DVDs, backroom cruising, g-holes, gay and straight cinemas, video preview cabins @10€ per film.
StoreiX (29 rue Heliot), sex shop, accessories, toys, gay and straight DVD videos, photo books, S&M items, oils, underwear