Three Days in Toulouse: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary
Visiting Toulouse for the France Rugby World Cup 2023? This host city is not only home to the Stadium de Toulouse (aka “Little Wembley”), where five of the pool matches will be held; it’s also the capital of French Rugby, the centre of France’s aeronautical industry, and nicknamed “the Pink City” for its magnificent architecture. Plan a few days before or after match day to experience Toulouse and follow our insider tips to take in all the highlights.
Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary: Toulouse
Day 1: Toulouse’s Top Attractions
If you’re wondering how Toulouse earned its moniker “The Pink City”, you only have to start walking—the city’s characteristic salmon-pink buildings greet you at every turn. Start at the Place du Capitole where the pièce de resistance is the commanding Capitole building, home to Toulouse Town Hall, then continue your walking tour to see the Convent of the Jacobins, the Basilica of Saint Sernin, and Notre-Dame de la Daurade cathedral.
Foodies won’t want to miss a stop at Toulouse’s famous covered market, Les Halles Victor Hugo, where you can sample regional delicacies including foie gras d’oie (goose foie gras), confiture de violettes (violet jam), and tarte aux noix (walnut pie). Arrive in time for lunch at one of the upper floor restaurants, and dig into a hearty bowl of cassoulet, a bean and sausage casserole made with the ubiquitous saucisse de Toulouse (Toulouse sausage).
In the afternoon, cross over to the Left bank of the Garonne River for a stroll through the riverside Prairie des Filtres park. Browse the art and photography exhibitions at the Château d’Eau (Water Castle) and Les Abattoirs (The Slaughterhouse) museums, or perhaps set sail on a scenic river cruise.
Stick around until the evening hours as the Saint-Cyprien Quarter is a lively spot for dining and bar-hopping—snag a table along the waterfront to watch the sunset.
Day 2: Match Day Fun
Toulouse’s aeronautical heritage is celebrated at the part-theme-park, part-museum Cité de l’Espace (Space City), and the interactive exhibitions are great fun for space enthusiasts of all ages. After all, where else can you marvel at full-scale replicas of the Ariane 5 rocket and MIR space station, journey to outer space in a virtual reality simulator, and see real-life moon rocks and spacesuits?
If you prefer aeroplanes to space rockets, you could also take a tour of the original Airbus factory and hop aboard a Concorde at the neighbouring Aeroscopia Museum before heading back to the centre-ville in time for the match.
Post-match celebrations will likely take place throughout the city—Toulousains love to party, whether you prefer sipping wine at the chic bars of Les Carmes, grabbing a beer along the quay, or hopping between bars and nightclubs in the Bourse-Daurade quarter.
Day 3: Castres and Carcassonne
The UNESCO-listed hilltop citadel of Carcassonne (Cité de Carcassonne) is one of France’s most visited medieval sites, nestled amid the Languedoc countryside, and it’s an easy day trip from Toulouse. First stop: the Château Comtal, where you can peek inside the 12th-century castle and explore the inner ramparts. Afterwards, set out to walk the exterior ramparts, which run for some 3km around the citadel, stopping to take in the views from the towers, admire the Aude Gate and Saint-Nazaire Basilica, and visit the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments.
Combine your visit with a stop in nearby Castres, a rugby-loving town known for its charming medieval buildings and two popular museums, the Goya Museum and Jean Jaurès Museum. For the most striking views, opt for a cruise along the Agout river on a traditional barge.
Alternatively, popular day-trip options from Toulouse include the Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes, where you can dowse yourself in holy water and join the candlelit procession, or the pint-sized country of Andorra, hidden away in the Pyrenees Mountains.
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