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16th Oct 2018

Here’s why Toulouse is the new go-to destination for a mini-break this winter

Anna Daly


Brought to you by Aer Lingus.

This is the best French spot to hit.

Whenever people think of a mini-break to France, Toulouse is one city that up to now has been mostly overlooked.

The city has all the charms that we associate with France – great wine and cheese, art, beautiful buildings and scenery, all the rest. Plus, because it’s still slightly off the radar, there aren’t teeming crowds of tourists around the place.

Toulouse, also called La Ville Rose after the pink colour of its buildings, is visually stunning.

The colours of the city give it a magical quality and make it perfect for a winter fairytale destination. The pink banks of the Garonne river won’t need snow to make you feel like you’re walking in a winter wonderland.

Toulouse’s southern location in France makes for a warmer climate than the capital and, of course, the slightly warmer weather is exactly what we’re looking for during these winter months. While the city is certainly not a tropical winter retreat, it’s perfect to escape the bone-biting, chilly winds of Ireland.

There are plenty of restaurants around the Capitole where you can warm up and share a lovely bottle of wine. Or, for a younger crowd, there are always drinks to be had around Place Saint Pierre.

If you feel like treating yourself, book a table at Michel Sarran, a restaurant with two Michelin stars. The restaurant isn’t cheap but the food is amazing and looks like a piece of art on the plate so it’s perfect if you want a proper night out.

For something a bit more homely, Le Grenier de Pepe is a lovely little restaurant on rue Denfert Rochereau with a cheese fondue to die for. Or you could visit Le Colombier on rue de Bayard for the most amazing comfort food to warm you up during the cold days.

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If you’re looking for a quick lunch or a coffee and cake, pop into Flower’s Café. They have a huge list of different drinks to choose from, including banana hot chocolate, and their selection of cakes taste as wonderful as they look.

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There’s so much going on in the city during the winter months. There are the usual attractions, such as  Toulouse’s Musée des Augustins – built in 1309, Musée Georges Labit, the Basilique Saint-Sernin, Cité de L’Espace (a theme park all about space exploration), or the beautiful Jardin Japonais.

Le Jardin Japonais is 100 percent necessary visit if you’re in Toulouse. It’s a beautiful little oasis right in the centre of the city.

If you’re looking to do a bit of Christmas shopping, there’s no better spot than rue Saint Rome. It is one of the best shopping streets in the city and has everything from clothes to shoes. It’s quite a narrow street and is filled with beautiful brick buildings. A lovely spot to spend some euros.

There are also loads of seasonal events in the city to keep you busy.

This 2 – 4 November, there is a chocolate and sweets festival. Yes, you read right. There will be workshops, competitions, and stands full of chocolate and goodies. AND over the same weekend, there’s also a wine festival happening at the Exposition Park.

French chocolate and wine galore all in one weekend? We want in.

The Marionnettissimo puppet festival will be visiting in November and that month also marks the start of the Toulouse Christmas market. Seriously. Winter in Toulouse is where it’s at.

Even if it’s snow you’re after, Toulouse is not one to let you down. Only about an hour and a half out of the city is the Ax-les-Thermes ski resort, perfect for that winter getaway. And that’s just the closest resort – there are numerous ski resorts dotted around the Pyrenees, about two hours out of Toulouse city.

There is everything to see and do in Toulouse and it’s not completely crawling with tourists yet. We suggest you get there pronto before it is because, trust us, this city is on the up and up.

Brought to you by Aer Lingus

Take a nice break in Toulouse this winter by jumping on one of Aer Lingus’s direct flights. Aer Lingus flies direct to the city up to four times a week. Their winter sale winter saleis on now so be sure to grab tickets quickly and nab a holiday away while you can.