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Things to do in Toulouse

Cross the border for a spot of snowboarding

Head into the Pyrenees for some snow action. The nearest French resorts like Saint-Lary Soulan (www.saintlary.com) are small and stylish. Over the border is the vast and modern but, ahem, less elegant Grand Valira Resort (www.grandvalira.com) in Andorra. Once there, it is easy to hire equipment and buy short-term lift passes.

 

Gently stroll along the Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO recognised route, runs for over 240km (150 miles) from Toulouse to the shores of the Med. Flat and straight, it's a footpath that makes a great walking trail. Once out of town you'll pass through fields of sunflowers and sleepy French hamlets beneath an arching tree canopy.

Get wild and wet on a wakeboard

A wakeboard is kind of like a snowboard on water, and it's just as tricky to get the hang of. Yet with warm weather and the right equipment plunging into the water just doesn't seem so bad. For those after a taste of adrenalin, TNS (www.teleskitoulouse.com) will help you take the plunge.

Power your way through the Pyrenees on a bike

Bike-friendly Toulouse (www.maisonduvelotoulouse.com) has cycle paths strewn all over the city, plus a lovely flat path running along the Canal du Midi that stretches out to Carcassonne and beyond to the Med. An hour and half away, the Pyrenees, a Tour de France favourite, is literally breathtaking and ideal for some serious cycling.

Strap on some blades and skate the city

See Toulouse on wheels by joining in with Roulez Rose (www.roulezrose.com). The name means pink wheels, and this is a full speed tour along the city's tarmac roads that takes place every week. For beginners, there are lessons, whilst stewards in fluorescent jackets ensure 'health and safety'.

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Grand Hôtel de l'Opéra

Right in front of the spectacular Théâtre du Capitole, this luxury hotel is where celebrities stay when in Toulouse. Formerly a 17th-century convent, there's nothing austere about the place now. Each room is individually decorated in hues of deep yellow or red, but all offer old-world charm combined with modern amenities.

Crowne Plaza Hotel

It's a few footsteps away from Place du Capitole, but when you step inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel you feel as though you've entered another world. With marble statues, lush greenery and an outdoor terrace with wrought-iron chairs, this feels more like Italy than France.

Pullman Toulouse Centre

Bright, light and modern, the Pullman Toulouse Centre is a business hotel that throws in a bit of style for weekend travellers. With funky scarlet chairs, white walls and elegant vases, it's a breath of fresh air. Don't confuse it with the Pullman Toulouse Blagnac, which is out by the airport.

Hôtel des Arts

Not to be confused with the substantially more upmarket Hôtel des Beaux Arts, this one may not have the glitz and glamour but it still has a great location. Just off Place St Georges, one of the most romantic parts of Toulouse, it's also within walking distance of the river.

Hôtel des Beaux Arts

For a room with an unforgettable view of Toulouse's Pont Neuf illuminated at night, try the Hôtel des Beaux Arts. The building itself has an 18th-century façade and a busy yet brilliant brasserie downstairs. Rooms somehow combine modern animal print cushions with a romantic charm from days gone by.

Le Grand Balcon Hôtel

There's a sense of fun in this 1930s hotel just off Place du Capitole. Fittingly, for a city associated with aerospace, the elegant rooms have a playful aviation theme to its stylish décor. They've even named a suite after one of its best-known guests: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, aviator and Little Prince author.