The picturesque pink city of Toulouse is a sea of pastel painted houses and terracotta tiles, nestled between tranquil waterways and high-tech factories. As the capital of the Midi-Pyrenees region, the city serves as a base to explore the sights of southwest of France too.
Being spread over such a wide area, having a rental car in Toulouse can help you get around. We’ve got car hire pick up locations across the city to make it easy to get on the road as quickly and efficiently as possible wherever you are.
Our rental offices in Toulouse cover the airport, Matabiau railway station, and outlying commercial areas. We also offer the facility to rent a car in one of our Toulouse offices and drop it off at another office anywhere, if that helps with your travel plans.
From the narrow cobbled streets and elegant tree-lined waterways in the heart of the city to the natural wonders of the Pyrenees, Toulouse is a beautiful region to discover. The charming maze of streets in the heart of the old quarter of Toulouse is best explored on foot but a hire car really helps you explore the rest of the city and the surrounding region.
You’ll find there’s an excellent road network to help you get around the city and the Midi-Pyrenees region. The A620 forms an easy-to-navigate orbital ring road skirting the fringes of Toulouse and allows you bypass the busier streets of the city center.
The River Garrone runs through the heart of the city, but you'll find it easy to cross from one side to the other. Square Boulingrin is one of the city's major road networks, offer connections to all the main inner-city routes.
Toulouse is a regional hub for road transport so the main routes set off in all directions. The A61 heads down to the Mediterranean via Carcassonne, while the A64 heads west to Biarritz and the Bay of Biscay. The A62 leads northwest to Bordeaux and the A68 to Albi and Rodez.
The roads in this southwest corner of France are generally very good. There is a network of modern motorways and trunk roads, and the roads become more scenic as they wind into the hills and mountains south of Toulouse.
When you are driving around Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrenees region you’ll find that the maximum speed limit is 81mph on rural motorways. This is reduced to 68mph if it is raining and 31mph in thick fog. Urban motorways and dual carriageways have lower limits, which are different again for other roads. Built-up areas have a 31mph limit.
Toulouse is known as a center for modern technology and aeronautics but it has a contrasting historic district too. It also forms a good base to tour the Midi-Pyrenees district and beautiful towns nearby, like Castres, Albi, and Foix.
Stepping back into Toulouse's past
Most of the best-known attractions are in the Old Quarter on the right bank of the Garonne. The Place du Capitole is a wonderful 18th-century square that is surrounded by the Hotel de Ville town hall, opera house, and the old castle. Look out too for the specialist chocolate shops here.
Wander the streets of shuttered houses and pavement cafes to find the art gallery housed in the 16th century Hotel d’Assezat palace, the enormous 11th-century Romanesque Basilica of St Sernin and the 400-year-old Pont Neuf Bridge over the Garonne. It’s the oldest of the crossings over the Garonne in Toulouse.
Another highlight is the city’s Cathedrale Saint-Etienne, an interesting collaboration of architectural styles. Try to catch a performance on the enormous and powerful 17th-century organ inside
The 21st-century city
Toulouse has one of France’s biggest universities, so expect lively nightlife. It’s a city of scientific research and manufacturing too.
Toulouse is famous for its links with aeronautics, like Concorde and the European Airbus. You’ll be able to learn more at the modern City de la Space. This popular exhibition park is based on the concept of flight and space exploration and includes two planetariums, an iMax cinema, and plenty of amazing interactive displays.
Look out for the makeshift market stalls selling fine local produce and the antique stalls and flea markets in the Allees Francois Verdier Park.
Cultivating inner-city culture
The fine arts collection of the Musee des Augustins is housed in an atmospheric 14th-century convent, making it one of France’s oldest museums. Nearby, the Musee Saint Raymond (MSR) has an acclaimed collection of archaeological finds, like Roman busts and Greek sculptures. And if you are still hungry for more historic art, try the Musee George Labit, which displays a collection of ancient Asian and Egyptian artifacts.
Exploring the Mid-Pyrenees
Outside of Toulouse, your rental car will allow taking in this truly beautiful region of France. To the south, you can drive towards the Pyrenees to find the frontier town of Foix, close to the Spanish border. The town is dominated by a medieval castle high on rocks overlooking the Old Town’s narrow streets and half-timbered houses.
Take a short drive to the east of Toulouse and you’ll find the pretty riverside town of Albi. Amid pretty old redbrick monuments, the town’s cathedral and archbishop’s palace have been designated a World Heritage Site. The palace now houses an impressive museum of the work of local artist Toulouse-Lautrec.
If you’re heading west from Toulouse, don’t miss the town of Auch, the historic capital of Gascony. Auch stands on steep banks above the River Gers and its most famous sight is the beautiful twin-towered Renaissance Cathedral looking down on the tranquil tree-lined riverbank below.
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0800-1900, Sa 0800-1200, Su closed
Address: 68 Avenue Jacques Douzans
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0700-2000, Sa 0800-1800, Su 0900-1200 1400-1900
Address: 64 Blvd Pierre Semard,
Opening hours: Mo-Su 0730-1930
Address: 53 Avenue Tolosane, St Agnes
Opening hours: Mo-Su 0700-2330
Address: Aeroport De Blagnac
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0800-1200 1400-1800, Sa-Su closed
Address: 10 rue Jean Dabry