Exploring Toulouse: your guide to student life in la Ville Rose
Discover Toulouse: The Pink City of Dreams! Unveil a vibrant blend of history and modernity as you explore terra-cotta brick buildings and a rich cultural heritage. This student guide reveals a city buzzing with energy, offering top-notch education, a dynamic nightlife, and a warm atmosphere. Embrace the art of living with a mild climate, picturesque parks, and easy access to France's best. Get ready for an enriching experience filled with discoveries and unforgettable memories.
If you’re thinking about or have already moved to the ‘Pink City’, then let this student guide of Toulouse be your source of information and inspiration when it comes to student life, accommodation, and settling in.
A city of colour, Toulouse welcomes travellers and residents with a smile at all times with its carefree attitude and easy-going way of life. Named La Ville Rose (‘The Pink City) because of its terra-cotta brick buildings, this Roman city founded in 2BC has a rich history and a vibrant present. Since the Romans, Toulouse has welcomed artisans and intellectuals which has made it a hub of progressive thought and artistic expression.
The deep-rooted intelligence can be found in the modern day too, with almost 100,000 eager and curious students coming from all corners of the world to study. Along with a relatively cheap cost of living, safe atmosphere and dynamic nightlife, it’s a city which can offer you a très happy life abroad.
Reasons why Toulouse is a great place to study
A wide education offering
Toulouse’s university system has a lot to offer students, from both public and private institutions, where a variety of programs can be discovered. There are a range of subjects and budgets which can attract a number of students. Toulouse also has partnerships with foreign universities, so studying abroad is also an easy option. The city is home to many businesses and organisations, so it’s a place where you can build solid professional connections and grow your network.
Situated in the heart of France, (and with an airport and good public transport system) the city of Toulouse makes travel around the country a breeze. Take a weekend trip to any other big city like Paris, Lyon or Marseille – all reachable by plane or train. Not to mention, there are other fantastic locations in France itself that could keep you occupied all year round. A little bit further, and you can be enjoying a skiing holiday in Andorra or a sunny summer in Spain. It’s a real European hotspot, your friends and family will love to come visit you for a city break or summer holiday!
Good quality of life
Quite frankly, Toulouse is just a great place to live. A warm climate throughout the summer and a mild winter makes it enjoyable in every season. The atmosphere is calm (maybe a little more rowdy on rugby game days!), but generally, a happy and positive vibe radiates through this easy city. The number of parks and greenery give you the chance to feel connected to nature and relax from the urban lifestyle. As mentioned, the geographical location allows for escaping to the mountains or the ocean with relative ease and a sense of adventure, too. The international student population generates a buzz of energy and opportunities to meet people and engage with new cultures. There’s no shortage of things to do here as a student, from enjoying culinary delights, to a vibrant nightlife and cultural explorations.
Enough housing options
Of course, there’s no better place to set up camp than The Social Hub! But if for whatever reason you want to expand your horizons and stay elsewhere, Toulouse has a number of residence halls, private apartments and houses you can rent. The range of housing options and cheaper rents than in other major cities make Toulouse an attractive option for internationals.
What to do in Toulouse as a student
Though the 4th largest city in France, Toulouse is relatively easy to navigate around. It has a really well organised public transport system which makes darting around the city and its landmarks a breeze. Plus, The Social Hub location is in a great spot, so you’ll find your way around without even trying.
Highlights close to The Social Hub
Cross that bridge
Three iconic and beautiful bridges can be found just a 15-minute walk away from the location; the Pont Neuf, Pont Saint-Pierre and the Pont de Catalans. The Pont Saint-Pierre is a monument of worship where young people come every Thursday night for fun. It’s especially magnificent when it’s lit up in the evening. The quay between Pont Saint-Pierre and Pont Neuf is known as the Quai de la Daurade and is a historic walking spot. Why not take a picnic and sit along the water with friends?
Picnics and people watching
As you enjoy your picnic or stroll, take note of the River Garonne, the third longest river in France. Passing from west to east across south-western France, it enters the Atlantic Ocean at Bordeaux and is the main exit for streams and rivers in the Pyrenees to the south. What is it about water that gives such a specific and unique buzz to a city?
A moment of calm
The Japanese gardens - Jardin japonais Pierre-Baudis - are more or less the unofficial gardens of the Social Hub; they're so close. Manicured to perfection, they look just like the existing gardens of Kyoto in Japan, built between the 14th and 16th centuries. An invitation for rest and recuperation, a spot to meditate and reflect, while being awed by the beauty. What’s more, entrance is free!
Other highlights of Toulouse
Satisfy your cravings at Marché Victor Hugo
Whether you’re a seasoned cook, mega foodie or have zero skills in the kitchen, this market will do something to you and your stomach. Find all the freshest produce you can wish for and more. A real typical French market, there are seasonal vegetables, a great assortment of cheeses, fish and seafood, meats, and of course, fresh bread. Pick up your treats first thing in the morning and have your new friends over for a dinner party! There are also restaurants and bars at the spot if you’re not up for cooking yourself though. We recommended Le Magret or Au Bon Graillou.
Fly through the sky and take a trip to space
Toulouse is home to the aerospace industry and the world’s largest airline producer. It’s also the European capital when it comes to space and exploration, with more than 400 companies giving over 12,000 people jobs in the field. This secures Toulouse’s position as an innovative and inventive city. You can find a number of museums and exhibitions that proudly display the knowledge and heritage of the industries. For example, Envol des Pionniers, Aeroscopia Museum, Cite de l'espace, and the Airbus factory.
Get your game face on
Sports have always been a great connector of people, so what better way to make new friends than to join in (watching) a rugby game. The Stade Toulousain is considered the most successful rugby club in Europe having won five European Rugby Champions Cups. Whether you’re at the pub cheering away or right in the action at the stadium, it’s an atmosphere like no other. The match days are one big festival of buzzing energy so gather your (new) friends together and get stuck in the action!
Some rugby-themed-bars include Pub O'Clock, The Danu, Chez Tonton, and La Brasserie du Stade Toulousain. Not far from The Social Hub is the Place Saint-Pierre which regularly hosts an invasion of supporters on game day.
What to do outside of Toulouse
As mentioned previously, one of the best reasons to study in Toulouse is its location. Living in Toulouse gives you access to the rest of France, and also to neighbouring countries of Spain and Andorra. You’ll have amazing adventures in a multitude of settings; from mountains, to coasts, to green pastures, not to mention other great cities.
A particularly special place to visit not far from Toulouse is Carcassonne, a charming mediaeval town rich in history. Experts say the city was settled in 6BC and in the 13th century it fortified its surroundings with the infrastructure that still exists now. In 1997, it was pronounced a UNESCO World heritage site. Explore the Cité de Carcassonne fortress where there are vendors selling gifts, ice cream and memorabilia. Remember to book your ticket to the Château Comtal in advance to avoid long queues!
A humble market town situated in the Pyrenees, Lourdes is one of the holiest Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Over five million people come to its holy waters looking for healing and spiritual evolution. The world-renowned Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Church of St. Bernadette and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary are all worth a visit for their spectacular constructions and unique energy they emit, if the religious element doesn’t appeal to your soul. Further, Lourdes lakes are stunning and host a range of outdoor activities that will get your heart racing! Take your pick from mountain biking, paddle boarding, hiking or golfing (to name a few).
Additional tips and bits
The city is very flat, so walking won’t be a problem if you want to get your 10k steps in. It never feels very crowded, and you can get to most places by foot without relying on public transport. Environmentally conscious and saves you some pennies!
That being said, public transport within Toulouse is extensive and well organised, as well as cheap so it’s a good way to get yourself around. The transportation system of France in general is very reliable, so you can take your day or weekend trips with ease. Check out these student subscriptions that can save you a good bit of money.
Food & Drink
We’re not fans of stereotyping, but it won’t come as a surprise that Toulouse is a gastronomical hotspot and home to many a watering hole. There are a multitude of restaurants offering hearty cuisine from the region, which aren’t vegetarian friendly but very focussed on tradition. For example, saucisse de Toulouse (18th century recipe sausage), confit de canard, foie gras d’oie and garbure, to name a few. Some spots of note: Campagne, Le Bon Vivre, L’Alimentation are some of favourites we like to sink our teeth into.
Get used to being invited or inviting others for an apéro – that’s an afternoon drink and snack which includes good chats and (often) more than one drink. It’s a great way to socialise and get to know the cafe and bar scene of the city. Le Concorde , Au Père Louis and Le Quinquina, are a few to add to your list.
Marché Victor Hugo will soon weave its way into your daily routine with its inviting fresh produce and offerings, but there are a number of markets where you can stock up on your essentials. Check out Marché Couvert de Carmes, Marché Cristal and Marché Bio de Capitole.
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