The 200-mile long Canal du Midi is a major feat of engineering that, along with the Canal de Garonne, joins the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Built in the 16th century, the Canal could cut up to a month off of a sea trip from Northern to Southern Europe and helped avoid the pirates off the Spanish coast. The Canal was thus a very important shipping route and remained so until it was closed during a drought in 1989. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It now serves primarily as a relic of Renaissance engineering, tourist attraction, and venue for rowing, canoeing, fishing, and cruises.
The magnificent Place du Capitole has been the center of life in Toulouse since it was constructed in the late 12th century. Over the last several decades, aspects of the square – and it’s chief resident, the Capitole – have redesigned aspects of the building, but it remains an incredible sight to behold. All 135 meters of the Capitole’s long façade were lovingly restored with the province’s characteristic prink brickwork. Tour guides can tell you about the building’s incredible history of courtly intrigue and murder.
One of Toulouse’s finest remaining palaces is the 16th-century Hôtel d'Assézat. It’s a beautiful example of French Renaissance palace architecture, with a lovely classical Italian courtyard. Fully restored in the 1980s, the Hotel now belongs to the City of Toulouse and house the Bemberg Foundation, an art gallery that houses the personal collection of Georges Bemberg. The Foundation houses an extensive collection of paintings and drawings from 19th and 20th century France and 16th to 18th-century Venice.
Toulouse has earned a reputation for rugby and French rugby has earned a reputation for entertaining gay men. Toulouse boasts two major rugby clubs: Stade Toulousain Rugby Union club is considered one of the best in Europe and Toulouse Olympique represents in the Rugby League. Games are played in either Stade Ernst-Wallon or the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse.