Toulouse can be considered as one of the great European rugby destinations with some fine restaurants and bars in abundance. There are also local sites to see so as well as taking in a great match, you can make a real weekend of it and see some of the best that southern France has to offer.
Stadium: Stadium Municipal de Toulouse
Stadium History: Toulouse's match against Cardiff Blues will be played at the Stadium where the local football club TFC play and this season saw Liverpool playing a Champions League qualifier back in August. The 36,500 stadium also hosted the All Blacks during the Rugby World Cup and has seen Heineken Cup semi-finals as well as the biggest Toulouse club matches played there. The ground has been home to Toulouse FC (TFC) since the 1950s but was rebuilt for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. You can now get the metro line B down to the stadium (Marcel Langer).
The Toulouse home stadium, Stade Ernest Wallon is also worth a visit. Toulouse training sessions are open to the public at the beginning of the week and the brasserie gives you the opportunity to eat great food whilst admiring the clubs three Heineken Cup trophies.
Tourist Attractions: One site to visit is the striking Saint-Sernin Basilica, which dates back to 1050 and is thought of as the finest example of Romanesque architecture in Europe. There is also a well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre in the city. Tours of the new A380 super jumbo can be booked through Airbus at the avaiation centre near Blagnac airport. Toulouse boasts several museums, including the home of European space exploration at Cite de l'Espace. Art lovers can go to the Les Abbatoirs Museum and the Les Augustins Monastery which boast fantastic art collections.
All French national museums are free of charge on the first Sunday of the month so a visit to a few on the morning of matchday won't hurt the wallet! Sunday morning is also the time to go the famous St Aubin market which boasts fantastic local produce and is an ideal place to sample French charcuterie as well as freshly baked bread and local delicacies.
Beyond Toulouse there are two trips which are very worthwhile for an afternoon. The first is to the medieval citadel of Carcassonne. Like Mont St Michel in Brittany, this town has been preserved beautifully whilst giving you the opportunity to visit some beautiful boutiques and restaurants. Albi which is about 40 minutes north of Toulouse is another hidden treasure of the French South West. Home to Toulouse Lautrec, the town boasts the largest collection of his works as well as some amazing medieval architecture. The town has some amazing views from the old city walls and also boasts some great restaurants.
By Air: Toulouse-Blagnac international airport is 8km west of the city. The city centre is easily reached by the airport shuttle service or by taxi. All the usual car-hire firms are present at the airport.
Airport shuttle service: Departures every 20 minutes between the airport and Toulouse, with four stops in the city centre: Pierre Baudis Conference Centre - Place Jeanne d'Arc - Allées Jean-Jaurès - and the coach station terminus (next to Matabiau SNCF railway station). Journey time: approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic. €6 return.
Taxis: Taxis are parked outside the arrivals hall on the ground floor of the airport. Journey time: approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic. €25.
By Car: Toulouse is a major motorway junction between France and Spain and has direct motorway connections to the main capitals of Northern and Southern Europe. If you're planning on driving, make sure you remember that most motorways in France are tolled.
A61 (Carcassonne, Montpellier, Barcelona)
A62 (Montauban, Agen, Bordeaux, Limoges, Paris)
A64 (Pau, Lourdes, Bayonne, Biarritz, San Sebastian)
A68 (Lavaur, Albi)
A66 (Pamiers, Foix, Andorra)
By Rail: Matabiau SNCF railway station is in the city centre. As you arrive in Toulouse, you can admire the Canal du Midi, which is just opposite. The canal runs from the Atlantic to the Medeterranian and was for many centuries the only way of transporting goods across France. There are several barges permanently moored on the canal which offer everything from restaurants and nightclubs to spa facilities. UNESCO has now classified the Canal du Midi as one of the 469 World Heritage Sites.
On a sunny day, there are several places to be in Toulouse, but 2 of the best are sat outside one of the cafes in Place St George, or on the banks of the Garronne. Place St George has a playground for smaller children and there is an old-style carousel which divides its time between Place St George and Place Wilson. Place Capitol is also full of great cafés and bars and there are children's playgrounds behind the town hall.
Post-match hostelries: Like any city of its size, Toulouse has its fair share of bars and cafes sprinkled around the city centre. Typically, the areas with the best nightlife are Place St. Pierre, Les Carmes and Boulevard Strasbourg. Place St Pierre offers the opportunity for drinks on the terraces and you are right by the Garonne river. The recently expanded Metro system can get you from A to B quite easily and means you can spend more time exploring the city and less time waking to the stadium!
As in other cities, Toulouse boasts several Irish bars. Bars do tend to close early on a Sunday evening so celebrating supporters may find it difficult to find places to revel. At this point, the Irish bars come into their own. Two in particular, are the most popular rugby bars in the city. They are Trevor Brennan's DeDanu on the Canal Du Midi and the Killarney Bar in St. Michel. The George & Dragon and the Frog & Rosbif are also worth a visit.
Dedanu - 9 rue du Pont Guihemery: Metro - François Verdier
Killarney - Rue Alfred Dumerill: Metro - Palais de Justice
L'Esquile: 63 Rue du Taur - Metro Capitole
Le Piccadilly: 10 Place de la Trinité - Metro Esquirol
Special People: 24 Rue Bachelier - Metro Jean Jaures
La Capriciosa: 40 Rue de la République - Metro St Cyprien
Esquirol Bar: 19 Place Esquirol - Metro Esquirol
Les Coulisses: 5 Boulevard de Strasbourg - Metro Jean Jaures
Brasserie le Grand Comptoir: 29 Grande Rue St-Michel - Metro St Michel
L'Almodo'bar: 27 Rue de Stalingrad - Metro Esquirol
Job Dionysos: 35 Rue Job - Metro Capitole
Le Saint Sernin: 2 Rue St-Bernard - Metro Capitole
La Chope Matabiau: 70 Rue Bayard - Metro Marengo SNCF
Café des Amidonniers: 43 allée de Brienne - Metro Capitole
Accomodation: Luxury Hotels:
7 Place du Capitole
05 61 61 19 19
Restaurant. 162 rooms. 10 suites. Some rooms look over the famous place du Capitole and the city hall of Toulouse. Intimate restaurant opening onto a pleasant Florentine patio.
Grand Hotel de l'Opéra
1 Place du Capitole
05 61 21 82 66
57 rooms. 3 suites. Set in a 17th century convent. Wood and velvet décor. Charming and sumptuous.
Accomodation: Mid-Range Hotels:
The Holiday Inn - Centre
13 Place Wilson
05 61 10 70 70
130 rooms. Brasserie Le Capoul on ground floor. Comfortable, modern rooms. Excellent location.
Hotel Novotel - Centre
5 Place Alphonse Jourdain
05 61 21 74 74
135 rooms. Restaurant overlooking swimming-pool and terrace. Located 10 minutes walk from city centre next to a pleasant park.
Accomodation: Budget Hotels:
L'Ours Blanc - Wilson
2 Rue Victor Hugo
05 61 21 62 40
37 rooms. Modernised 1930's hotel. Walk out of the front door into a lively area of great bars and restaurants.
Wilson Square Hotel
12 Rue d'Austerlitz
05 61 21 67 57
30 chambres. Great value, comfortable hotel in the middle of the action in central Toulouse.