Toulouse is termed as “La Ville Rose” meaning the pink city for the use of pinkish terracotta bricks in most of the city’s buildings. The city sits on the banks of river Garonne and serves as the capital for the French Occitanie region. Being classified as a “City of art and history”, Toulouse has a very rich architectural heritage housing different architecture styles under one sky. Being the fourth largest city of France, the city is the heart of Southwest France and is halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet2
City of Architecture – Copyright©

City of Art and Architecture

Toulouse’s red brick is its traditional building material earlier made from the red alluvial mud dredged out of the river Garonne. The central area of Toulouse is a maze of narrow streets with as many cafes, restaurants and boutiques as humans living there. The buildings here vary differently in their architectural styles ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Roman to neoclassical. Its diverseness attracts the eyes of tourists and inspires the world. The city is a museum of architecture showcasing all the medieval and pre-modern styles from as early as the 12th century. 

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet4
Toulouse Heritage- Copyright©

A few noteworthy Toulouse structures are:

Located in the Carmelite district, the church is a typical southern gothic architecture with façade elements linked to other styles, such as an Italian-renaissance tympanum made of ceramic. Its 87 m spire, the symbol of ecclesiastical power, was rebuilt in 1881 and raised to 91m, making it the highest point in the city until 1926. its interiors were restored in 1926. 

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet3
Notre Dame De La Dalbade – Copyright©
  • Le Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf is the 16th-century old bridge on the river Seine. It is the oldest stone bridge in France. The planning started in 1542, and Henry IV ordered its construction to be completed in 1578. It’s a renaissance arch bridge that spans over 220m, but it’s not symmetrical as its arches have different lengths. 

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet6
Le Pont Neuf- Copyright©


  • Basilica of Saint Sernin

Built between 1080-1120, this former church of Abbey of St. Sernin was built in Romanesque style. The church has two exterior doorways, and its interior measures 115mX64mX21m. The church was built in five tiers. The lower three were constructed in the 12th century, whereas the upper two were in the 14th century. The church has nine chapels and a bell tower over the transept crossing. 

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet5
Basilica of Saint Sernin- Copyright©
  • Capitole de Toulouse

Its construction started in 1190 to form the government. Soon the place turned out to be the historic heart of the city. Additional elements were added to its façade by Guillaume Cammas in the 18th century. It has an extraordinary neoclassical architectural style, and the eight columns of the building represent the original eight areas of the city. 

Capitol de Toulouse – Copyright©

Toulouse’s Culture 

The city has a rich and unique cultural heritage that goes way back thousands of years. Along with the architectural aspects of diversity, the city also has artistic and musical roots.  The architecture here is like a French cuisine with a tinch of roman, gothic, renaissance, and Romanesque that spices up its aura. It is a perfect destination for a holiday as well as for a permanent abode. 

Not only the city flourishes in its artistic value among the buildings and people, but its head is high up in the sky in terms of intellectuality too. Toulouse is a centre for European Aerospace Industries, and overall growth, and progression. Rugby and football are the most loved sports in the city and a part of their culture as well. 

The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe and has the fourth largest campus in France. The Theatre du Capitole has been a forever theatre place for opera and ballet since 1736. A 19th-century old water tower was converted into an art gallery named “Le Château d’Eau Gallery” by Jean Dieuzaide, a French photographer, which is now one of the oldest public places dedicated to photography in the world. Also, French food culture has an extreme uniqueness of its own, and Toulouse is famous for its Sausages, Toulouse Cassoulet, Foie Gras, and Garbure.

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet7
Toulouse Street – Copyright©

Influence of modernization and demographics 

The development of any nation depends on its people and available resources. A nation with rich resources would ultimately lead it to the path of success. History has been a great example for us to look for the patterns of ancient settlements. All the historical civilizations seemed to have found a home where plenty of natural resources were present. Indus valley civilization was one of the great historical settlements around the river Indus. 

If we consider imagining the start of a settlement in an arid region, our chances of surviving would have been a little less. However, Technology has bridged the gap between a thriving region to a barren land. The constraints of transportation have become uplifted. 

Architecture of Cities: Toulouse- The Pink City of France - Sheet1
Toulouse – Copyright©

But in comparison, most sound living nations would always be the ones thriving on rich soil. Toulouse, in this case, has an edge with three rivers and two canals flowing through it. Demographics play a significant role while deciding the future of civilization. The population of Toulouse stands 1,037,000 in 2021, with a total area of 118.3 km2. It’s the fourth-largest in France. 

During the Renaissance, Toulouse was one of the richest countries because of the exponentially increasing sale of the blue colour extracted from pastel plants. Later on, when the need for it started to disappear, the economy of the city fell. But civilizations fall only to rise higher. And Toulouse has been like a “universe in one.”



Apoorva Deshpande is an architect practicing in Mumbai. Along with her interest in architecture, she is passionately interested in the literary world and hence always keen to explore spatiality through the medium of words. Her academic interests include urban housing, public spaces and urban ecology.