Known as the Pink City, Toulouse is the capital of the Haute-Garonne region and one of France’s finest destinations. The city exudes an inviting atmosphere and after mere hours of being there, the friendly locals have ensured you feel at home.
It is the fourth largest city in France which means that it is well served by public transport. Therefore, day trips from Toulouse are not only cheap to make but also quick and easy to arrange.
Whilst it is easily possible to fill days exploring the gastronomy and architecture in Toulouse, I definitely recommended journeying out to some of the nearby picturesque towns and cities which are easily accessible from the city.
With so much choice (plenty of France looks like a postcard scene), it can be hard to choose where to go first. To help you overcome this struggle, I’ve got together with some of my fellow travel bloggers to bring you our favourite day trips from Toulouse.
Best Day Trips from Toulouse
The beautiful city of Albi is the perfect place to visit on a day trip from Toulouse. A return train ticket costs around €13 and departs from the Toulouse Matabiau train station. Trains leave every hour or so, including at the weekends.
Whilst there are plenty of traditional picturesque cities all over France, the thing that makes Albi stand out is its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Episcopal City includes both Albi’s huge cathedral and the surrounding historic areas. The cathedral is so massive that it needs to be seen first hand – you won’t believe it! Whilst the outside of the building is breathtaking, the inside is even more so.
Perhaps even more appealing than the carefully cultivated city centre is the backstreets of the old town. Place Savène is one of the most charming neighbourhoods you could wish to find and the city continues to offer more surprises as you explore the narrow streets on foot.
There are three main walking trails around the city. Don’t miss the one through the historic city as well as the route which follows the riverbank. This trail leads you over the stunning Pont Vieux Bridge and takes around an hour to walk in total. There are some beautiful photo opportunities along the way too!
Before you hop on the train back to Toulouse, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants situated close to the Cathedral. There really is no better place to be on a sunny day.
2. Andorra la Vella
One day trip from Toulouse that is often overlooked is driving through the Pyrenees Mountains to Andorra la Vella. If you feel comfortable with the drive, you can hire a car and make the trip in about two and a half hours. There is a direct bus from Toulouse to Andorra la Vella which takes a little longer.
The tiny micro-nation sits as a mountain hamlet between Spain and France. Many people visit the small country to make duty-free purchases, however, Andorra la Vella has so much more to see. In the winter, Andorra is a popular skiing destination and there are plenty of health spas and hiking trails.
All year long, there are sites to explore in the beautiful capital, Andorra la Vella. Make sure to check out the Salvador Dali sculpture: The Nobility of Time. Walk around Andorra la Vella’s old town and gaze at the Casa de la Vall, the former parliamentary house from the 16th century. Nearby, you can visit Saint Esteve Church, a 12th-century house of worship. The quaint old town has cafes, restaurants and boutiques to explore as well.
Andorra la Vella is a perfect day trip from Toulouse because you can do some shopping, see some sights and take in the views. Even the time spent in the car is lovely because the sweeping views of the mountains are incredible. It’s also possible to visit Andorra la Vella as a day trip from Barcelona, but the mountain drive is best experienced from the French side of Andorra.
Contributed by Derek of Robe Trotting.
It is thought that Castres got its name from the site of an old Roman fort (castrum), though it really took hold around the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Benoît (or St Benedictine). Once an important stop on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, the area has a long and interesting history.
Widely known for the artisans colourful, cantilevered (and very photogenic) houses along the river, the town is also famous for the bishop’s palace (now the City Hall) which was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who was also the architect of the Palace of Versailles. There are also beautiful gardens to match, which were specifically designed to be viewed from the palace windows.
Located in this building is another attraction Castres is known for, the Goya Museum – the largest collection of Spanish artist works in France. As you would expect from its name, visitors can see works by Goya, but also Picasso, Rusiñol and Velázquez, among others.
A wander through the beautiful city centre will let you experience most of the sights, museums, palaces and churches, though if you want to get out of the city, a visit to Sidobre and its odd granite boulders is a great way to experience nature and learn some local myths and legends.
Just over an hour away (roughly an hour and fifteen minutes), Castres is easily accessible from Toulouse by car, train or bus. Both the train and bus routes are fairly direct and cost under 20 euros. If you have time, get off the tourist trail and don’t miss a visit to this little medieval gem!
Contributed by Jenna at I Know The Pilot.
Think of Bordeaux, and you’ll most likely think of wine. And while the nearby vineyards do indeed produce some of the best wines in the world, this city has plenty more to offer. A large university student population means that the city has a vibrant music and culture scene and a very open and tolerant attitude.
Even though Bordeaux is quite a sprawling city, most of the places of interest to tourists are within walking distance of each other, and much of the old town is a pedestrian-only zone. A huge area of 18 square kilometers within the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the largest such urban site in the world.
You’ll certainly be reminded of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris when you see the Porte de Bourgogne. This is actually one of several triumphal arches scattered around France, all of which were modelled on the arches that the ancient Romans built to commemorate victories in battle. Even more beautiful, though, is the Porte Cailhau, also known as the Porte du Palais, which is topped with a tower and multiple turrets.
Another monument not to miss is the Cathedral of St. André, best viewed from the top of the adjacent Tour Pey-Berland. The riverside area known as Les Quais is a great place to go for a stroll, and you can also take a ride on the ferry boat on the Garonne river. TGV trains run between the Saint-Jean Station in Bordeaux and the Matabiau Train Station in Toulouse, taking just over two hours.
Contributed by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan.
When you think about beautiful cities in France, Carcassonne is likely to be one of the first places that jumps into your mind. The city’s defining landmark is, of course, the medieval citadel which is located high above the river and surrounding streets.
There is no entrance fee to walk around the citadel however, if you would like to explore the Keep or the city walls, you will need to pay €9 to enter. It is well worth getting an audio guide and this offers much-needed context for the structures and history that you are seeing.
In the citadel, there are plenty of restaurants and tourist gift shops. Whilst many of the latter sell only tacky souvenirs, it is still worth spending some time in the city and enjoying a meal or cold beverage there. Although I read many claims about the citadel streets being a bit of a tourist trap, I didn’t find this to be the case and most things were priced reasonably. The fortress was amazing to explore on foot, with windy streets and archways popping up everywhere.
The citadel is a photographers dream and whilst you can snap incredible shots all over the place, the city walls are arguably the best place to go for landscape photos.
Carcassonne is easily visited by train from Toulouse or also by bus. Flixbus is a great option for those on a budget and the journey only takes around two hours.
6. Cordes sur Ciel
If you’re looking to escape the city, one of the most enjoyable day trips from Toulouse is to the village of Cordes sur Ciel. The fortified hilltop town was voted France’s favourite village in 2014 and from your first glimpse of the town as you approach, you’ll be smitten.
The medieval town is surrounded by protective walls and wandering beside these, you’ll often come across window-like openings which offer a glimpse of the stunning countryside below. These framed views really add to the charm of the town and they entice you to keep walking a bit further to see what’s around the next corner.
In the town itself, the centuries-old stone buildings are now home to artisan galleries, boutiques, hotels and restaurants. A huge wooden market hall takes centre stage in the heart of the town and here you’ll find lots of cafes – this is a great place to enjoy a drink and take in the beauty of Cordes.
Decorating the narrow cobblestone streets of Cordes you’ll see brightly coloured medieval flags strung up high, adding a pretty decoration to the beautifully preserved stone buildings.
Cordes is located 85 kilometres northeast of Toulouse. The best way to reach Cordes is by car, with the journey taking around 70 minutes. If you don’t have your own car, you can catch a train from Toulouse to Cordes Vindrac (55 minutes) and then take a bus to Cordes-sur-Ciel (10 minutes), however, there will be around a one hour wait in Cordes Vindrac.
Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe.
7. Cathar Country
Toulouse is an excellent base-camp from which to explore a bit of the Cathar Country in Southern France on a day trip by car. It is possible to visit Mirepoix and Montségur on this route, two top sights in the Cathar Country located at less than 2 hours by car from Toulouse (one way).
Catharism was a dualist religion which flourished in the Languedoc during the XII and XIV centuries. Cathars (the followers of this new religion) combined a tradition of itinerant preachers in the forests with a very ascetic life and rejected the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church declared the Cathars heretics and called a crusade to destroy them. From 1208, a war of terror was waged against the indigenous population of the Languedoc and it is estimated half-million Languedoc people (Cathars or not) were massacred by the Crusaders.
Mirepoix was an important Cathar center and it still keeps a rich heritage from its medieval past, with beautiful old squares and picturesque architecture of half-timbered houses.
Travel a little bit further there’s Montségur, a medieval fortress located on top of a hill. Montségur is one of the most important Cathar sites because it was the last focus of Cathar resistance. The last Cathars gathered in Montségur, trying to escape the assaults of the Crusaders. After a long siege, Montségur fell and the Cathars who refused to renounce their beliefs were burned alive. Despite this terrible chapter in history, this is a very beautiful and special place, with much energy.
Contributed by Elisa of France Bucket List.
If you want to discover one of the most beautiful villages in France, a day trip from Toulouse to Rocamadour is ideal!
This beautiful clifftop village is particularly well known for being one of the most famous pilgrimage sites on the Le Puy route of the Camino de Santiago. Rocamadour is actually the second most visited attraction in France after the Mont Saint Michel.
You can walk around the pretty medieval streets in the village and make your way up to the top where you will reach the main church, Notre-Dame. This is where you can find the Black Madonna. You will also get a beautiful view out onto the Dordogne Valley.
There are 233 steps to get to the top, so it’s highly recommended to wear comfortable shoes. If you are not up for the walk, you can go on the funicular.
The very unique thing about Rocamadour is that the houses and church were built into the stone itself! Definitely not something you get to see every day!
Rocamadour is also perfect for the foodies out there! You will find the traditional goat cheese “cabecou de Rocamadour” and many other dishes typical of South-West cuisine. If you like duck, order a “confit de canard” in one of the local restaurants.
The best way to get there is by car. As you may imagine, it’s not a place easily accessible via public transport. If you are driving, it will take you a couple of hours from Toulouse. Alternatively, you can book a day trip from Toulouse.
Contributed by Pauline of Beeloved City.
Recommended Day Trips from Toulouse:
How many of these day trips from Toulouse have you done?