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Toulouse - The Violet Capital

Mar 4, 2008
Capital of the French Department of the Haute Garonne and administrative center of the region of the Midi-Pyrenees, Toulouse is one of the largest and most important cities in France. It's ancient name is Tolosa in the Occitan language.

Toulouse is also known in France as "la ville rose" (the pink town), due to the color of the principal material of construction, pink brick.

Being centrally located in south-west France means that Toulouse is subject to both Mediterranean and Oceanic climates, thus giving it a temperate climate, hot and dry in summer and relatively mild in autumn and winter.

Typical of this part of south-west France, Toulouse is crossed by three major winds: a north wind, a west wind and a south-easterly wind. The west wind blows from the Atlantic and brings with it moist air and rainfall. The northerly wind, much less frequent than the other two, is cold but very dry. But perhaps the most well-known and prevalent wind is that from the south-east, regularly known by its name the "Autan". This wind is dry and hot, but it also possesses some interesting side effects. The locals often refer to it as the "devil's wind" or the "crazed wind", since its effect on the minds of many whose paths it crosses, both humans and animals. So tourists beware!

Toulouse isn't just a thriving, bustling city, it's also a major European center of technology, home to industries including aeronautics, aerospace, medicine and also telecommunications. Indeed Toulouse is considered to be the European capital of the aerospace industry. Yet the city continues to diversify into ever more areas. Much of this is of course due to it being home to a major university, the second largest after that of Paris.

Two key features of the city are the Pont-Neuf and the Canal du Midi which were completed in 1632 and 1682 respectively. Then there is the Capitole, constructed in the eighteenth century. In the 1920s, Toulouse was the pioneering center of the aviation industry, with the key Aerospatiale company being established in 1927, with such notable names such as Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Jean Mermoz.

Toulouse is also home of the French national center for weather prediction. This meteorological center was set up in Toulouse in 1982 and is now responsible for the prediction of weather patterns for the entire country.

Toulouse is also known for violets, which are cultivated there both for the flowers and for their perfume.

Toulouse is also home to a huge quantity of museums and cultural festivals. Indeed Toulouse is known throughout the whole of Europe as a city of many major international festivals. It is thus a major tourist destination. Visitors to the city will find it impossible to avoid coming into contact with major centers such as the Zenith, the Meditheque and the Congress Center. There are also the more recent Museum of Modern Art, known as the Abattoirs (since it was indeed the old city abattoir). Then there is the famous and impressive Cite de l'Espace (Space City). And not to be missed is the incredible Capitole Museum with its impressive Salle des Illustres - a giant room brimming with huge paintings and frescoes.

The Cite de l'Espace, located on the outskirts of the city, is a large expense of land dedicated to the exploration of space in all its many manifestations. Here you will find a reconstructed Mir space station, an Arianne rocket and a whole host of satellites and rockets to discover. And one mustn't forget the very impressive IMAX three-dimensional cinema and planetarium. There is nothing quite so spectacular in the whole of Europe - an incredible family day out or place of study for school children.

Culturally, Toulouse is a European city second to none, particularly on the musical scene. The Capitole theatre is home to an internationally-renowned orchestra, opera and ballet with world-class productions held on a regular basis. Summer also sees guest appearances from musicians from around the world, making this an ideal destination for those artistically inclined. The National Theatre is also an impressive venue in its new building in the center of the city, boasting an impressive year-round programme.
About the Author
For further information on France, the French lifestyle and Bordeaux in French, please visit Rencontres Bordeaux at Antonio Bonito's QuePourToi.com rencontres coquines web site.
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