The Haute-Garonne department has everything to give its guests a top time: lots of sun, white peaks, a nature that invites you to undertake exciting activities such as kayaking and rafting, many historic sights and a capital to fall in love with. That is Toulouse - lovingly called "Ville Rose" by its inhabitants, the pink city.
Toulouse owes its pet name to the traditional pink bricks from which most of the buildings have been erected. The architecture in the old city is stunning. Also note the numerous decorative balconies on the stately, symmetrical facades. The deeper you enter the old city, the narrower the streets and the older and more charming the houses become. There is a lively, southern bustle in small and larger squares, many with arcades. You push a glass there, you eat a snack there. Almost always outside. By the way, Toulouse has another nickname: "Cité des Violettes". It has nothing to do with architecture. The name refers to the violet-colored garlic bulbs that are grown around Toulouse and have been finding their way to "toute la France" since time immemorial. That used to be done via the Canal du Midi.
This famous 250 km long canal, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea, starts at Toulouse. In 1666 a piece of the Garonne was first canalized here. The Canal du Midi, completed in 1681, brought activity and prosperity to the city and the entire region. Today it is a tourist attraction and the pleasure craft dominates. Boats can be rented everywhere. It is wonderful to spend a family day on the water and explore the area while sailing. Then don't forget to visit the museum and gardens of the Canal du Midi, in the town of Revel.
Another must: the picturesque village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. Two major episodes coincide here: the Gallo-Roman era and the Middle Ages. We find here one of the best preserved cities from antiquity: This "lugdunum" consists of a forum, theater, bathhouse and covered market place and dates from the 2nd century. The old center of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges dates from the early Middle Ages. The robust Sainte-Marie cathedral proudly towers above the romantic half-timbered houses.
The Haute-Garonne has more villages to be proud of. They are scattered throughout the department. The most worth seeing are Montesquieu-Volvestre, Martres-Tolosane, Montbrun-Bocage, Alan, Saint-Sulpice-sur-Lèze and Palaminy. Equally worth seeing is the spa town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, located at the foot of the Pyrenees. Therapeutic bathing has been in fashion here since the Romans. Luchon, also known as the "Queen of the Pyrenees", has a "steam cabin" that is unique in Europe. This hammam, saved from the rocks and also called "vaporium", is the ultimate place to unwind and relax in a natural way.
This is possible in the Haute-Garonne in many more ways. You can roam and cycle endlessly through the valleys of Aspet and Saint-Béat, through the mountains, or along vineyards and rivers. And of course at the table, with a good glass of "Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan" or a robust pediment. And for the brisk appetite, they serve with pleasure a creamy cassoulet with duck or sheep meat and a renowned "saucisse de Toulouse".