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Travel to Toulouse

Flying to Toulouse

British Airways and easyJet offer direct flights to Toulouse from the UK. It’s usually pretty easy to find cheap flights to Toulouse, although prices do go up during the ski season (December to March). If you’re struggling, consider flying to Carcassonne instead, around an hour’s drive away. The quickest routes from the USA involve a connection in either London or Paris.

Flight times

From London - 1 hour 45 minutes; New York - 10 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles;- 14 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 10 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Sydney  - 26 hours (including stopovers).

Travel by road

The roads are modern in most parts of southwest France and in Toulouse itself you’ll have no problem. Bear in mind that the roads into the Pyrenees are steep and winding, and that you definitely need snow chains and/or tyres (and know how to fit them) in winter. A word of warning: French drivers tend not to indicate, and road signs are much closer to the exit than you might be used to. You need to have your wits about you.

Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18 years old. Speed limits are 130kph (81mph) on motorways (110kph, or 68mph, when raining), 110kph (68mph) on dual carriageways separated by a central reservation, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.

You must carry a national driving licence, the car's registration documents, a red warning triangle and a reflective jacket at all times. Green Cards are not compulsory but may be useful if you're bringing your own vehicle into France for a period of less than 90 days.

VINCI Autoroute (ASF) (tel: 3605, in France only; www.vinci-autoroutes.com) monitors the motorways and provides traffic updates by telephone.

Emergency breakdown services

Dépann'Auto 31 (tel: +33 5 6187 8204).

Routes

Four motorways converge on Toulouse: the A62 from the north, the A68 from the northeast, the A64 from the southwest and the A61 from the southeast. Toulouse is circled by a ring road, which you join upon leaving the motorway. The following exits are particularly useful: Pont des Demoiselles (for Gare Matabiau) and exit 30: Ponts Jumeaux (for the city centre).

Coaches

The coach station in Toulouse is located next to the Gare Matabiau on boulevard Pierre Semard. Buses travel across the Midi-Pyrénées, as well as to Barcelona, Paris, Andorra la Vella and Bordeaux.

Eurolines (tel: 0892 899 091, in France only or +33 1 4186 2421; www.eurolines.fr) provides services throughout France and beyond.

Time to city

From Paris - 7 hours; Barcelona - 4 hours; Marseille - 4 hours; Bordeaux - 2 hours 15 minutes.

Travel by Rail

Services

France’s rail network is clean and reliable, although the fast trains don’t link up with Toulouse as well as you might hope.

Gare Matabiau, 64 boulevard Pierre Semard, is the hub for regional and national rail travel in Toulouse. Services run to Bordeaux via Agen and Montauban; Montpellier via Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers and Sète; and Perpignan via Narbonne, among many other destinations.

For international rail travel, travel via Paris from destinations in North Europe or via Perpignan to reach Toulouse from Spain.

Operators

SNCF (tel: 3635, in France only or +33 892 353 535; www.sncf.com) is France's national railway service provider. TER handles regional journeys.

Eurostar (tel: +44 1233 617 575, in the UK; www.eurostar.com) links London to Paris, from where you can catch a connection to Toulouse.

Journey times

From London - 9 hours (via Paris); Barcelona - 4 hours (via Narbonne); Marseille - 4 hours 20 minutes; Paris - 6 hours 30 minutes; Bordeaux - 2 hours 15 minutes; Perpignan - 2 hours 30 minutes; Carcassonne - 1 hour.

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Featured Hotels

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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.

Hôtel de Brienne

Just a few minutes' walk from the tree-lined Canal de Brienne, this smart design hotel manages to mix sleek contemporary décor with a cosy ambience. The funky restaurant and bar lead on to an attractive garden terrace, and there's plenty of intriguing modern art dotted about the common areas.

Hôtel Héliot

Decorated in a style that perhaps your grandmother would choose, Hôtel Héliot is cosy and comfortable. It's close to the main train station and the Jean Jaurès metro, and even though it's not on the doorstep of Place du Capitole, it's perfectly straightforward to walk there from here.

Hôtel Royal Wilson

Clean and simple, Hôtel Royal Wilson is within walking distance of Toulouse's city centre. With wrought-iron balconies, a Moroccan-style interior courtyard and a whitewashed interior, the décor might come as a pleasant surprise given the price tag. There's also a private garage and a secure lockup for bicycles.