Prepare to be surprised by France’s ‘Ville Rose’ or ‘Pink Town’. The nickname refers to the attractive rose-hued terracotta bricks used in many of Toulouse’s buildings, giving the capital of the Midi-Pyrenees region a unique charm.
You may also be surprised just how large Toulouse is. The city is the fourth biggest in France and spreads across 45 square miles on both banks of the River Garonne. Hiring a car in Toulouse is the easiest way to get around the area and explore the surrounding Midi-Pyrenees, which in turn is the largest region in France.
We’re well placed to help you into a rental car as quickly and efficiently as possible. You’ll find we’ve got car hire pick-up points right in the heart of Toulouse and in the busiest commercial areas on the outskirts. Of course we also have offices at the city’s airport and the main rail station.
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0800-1900, Sa 0800-1200, Su closed
Address:68 Avenue Jacques Douzans
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0700-2000, Sa 0800-1300 1400-1800, Su 0900-1200 1400-1900
Effective 1 April 2017: Mo-Fr 0700-2000, Sa 0800-1800, Su 0900-1200 1400-1900
Address:64 Blvd Pierre Semard,
Opening hours:Mo-Su 0730-1930
Address:53 Avenue Tolosane, St Agnes
Opening hours:Mo-Su 0700-2330
Address:Aeroport De Blagnac
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0800-1200 1400-1800, Sa-Su closed
Address:10 rue Jean Dabry
Part of the fun of visiting Toulouse is exploring the maze of narrow streets in the centre and the leafy boulevards along the banks of the Garonne. This is the best way to enjoy the historic heart of the city and see how it’s dominated by attractive buildings built with those distinctive rose-coloured bricks.
These central streets are compact enough for a walking tour but hiring a car in Toulouse helps you get around the old city and the more modern outskirts too, which spread far and wide across the Garonne Valley.
You’ll find it’s an easy city to drive around thanks to its road layout, with the A61, A62 and A620 creating a 21-mile-long ‘peripherique’ or ring road of motorway standard. This six-lane highway offers a quick route right around the city, avoiding the busy narrow streets in the centre.
If you do venture into the old heart of Toulouse look out for one of a good selection of secure underground car parks, like those in Place du Capitole or Allee Jean Jaures, that will save you searching for the limited on-street parking spots.
Motorways and trunk roads branch off from the peripherique in all directions - use the A68 to head west to Albi, the A61 heads southeast to Carcassonne and the A64 takes you south-west to Tarbes and eventually Biarritz. Smaller N-category roadslead into the more rural areas to the west of the city.
Toulouse is home to a number of high-tech industries and boasts modern, well-maintained roads. Drive further out from the city and you may find more rustic road surfaces, particularly to the south. The foothills of the Pyrenees start rising from the plain about 40 miles from the city. Look out for some fantastic views if you head down there but also take note of weather reports - snow can cause problems on small mountain roads in the winter.
If you’re driving a car around Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrenees the normal French rules of the road apply. You’ll find these are similar to the rest of continental Europe.
With a wide range of travellers passing through our locations every day, we've got a wide range of vehicles on offer to suit your needs - from smart executive saloons to compact family hatchbacks. ***
***Specific cars may not be available when booking
Toulouse has a fascinating split personality: it’s steeped in history while at the same time being one of the leading centres for high-tech industry in France. Wherever your travels take you, you’re sure to find this exciting blend of old and new.
With its university and thriving scientific industries, Toulouse is a busy centre for modern engineering and technology. You’ll find plenty of references to its links with the famous Concorde supersonic jet as well as the European Airbus. The best place to delve into this side of Toulouse is at the purpose-built science theme park in the south-east of the city, just inside the ring road. Called Cite de l’espace – ‘the City of Space’ – it features a collection of real spacecraft and equipment, as well as space travel simulators to try out. It’s family friendly too, with planetariums, an iMax cinema and interactive displays.
You’ll find the Old Quarter of Toulouse on the right bank of the River Garonne. It’s a great place for a wander, with plenty of pavement cafes, interesting shops and old landmarks to check out. The highlight of the Old Quarter is the 1,000-year-old Basilica of St Sernin. An important spot down the centuries for pilgrims from all over Europe, today it still attracts visitors from right across the world. See how the ornate pink coloured bell tower can be spotted from all over the city. Stepping inside the dimly-lit cathedral is like stepping back into the Middle Ages. It’s packed with ancient treasures and decorations that combine to create a spine-tingling atmosphere.
While exploring the history of the Old Quarter, don’t miss the city’s speciality shops selling traditional handmade chocolates. Then later you can enjoy the Toulouse nightlife as the city’s large student population comes out to play. But if it’s ultimate relaxation you’re after, head to Caliceo Toulouse. A large and luxurious ‘centre aquatique’, or aquatic centre, it’s got nothing to do with tropical fish. Instead it’s you who will enjoy warm indoor and outdoor spa pools, massage beds, whirlpool baths, jets, saunas, fountains, lazy rivers and current pools. It’s like a relaxing waterpark for grown-ups.
It’s less than an hour’s drive east to Albi, so it makes the perfect day out from Toulouse. Albi isn’t famous around the world but is well loved among the French. You’ll find it’s a picturesque old town on the River Tarn, with plenty of spectacular landmarks to see. Locals call it the ‘Ville Rouge’, or red town, because much of it is made of red bricks, much darker than Toulouse’s peachy pink ones.
One of the highlights is the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, an inspiring collection of the paintings of the homegrown post-impressionist artist who went on to become famous around the world.
Then stroll next door to the World Heritage Site comprised of the medieval Cathedral of St Cecile and the Berbie Palace. Built by the bishops of Albi, they are so well fortified that today it’s hard to tell if they are religious or military structures. Outside, wander the old cobbled streets leading from the cathedral to find viewing platforms over the river, terraced gardens and a thousand-year-old bridge built from red brick, naturally.
Please note that from 15 Nov to 15 Apr many cities are required by law to restrict the circulation to only vehicles equipped with snow chains or winter tyres. For a summary of the orders, please visit www.poliziadistato.it. To comply with the regulations, in specific locations subject to this requirement, vehicles are equipped with snow chains - the price is included in the rental charges through the cost of "Winterization Fee". At pick-up if you decide to bring your own snow chains or do not intend on driving on the roads subject to this requirement, you may decline the equipment by signing the appropriate release form. This change will be reflected in the rental charges. For more information on the fees, please click here. In all other regions, we recommend that you check before renting if your journey includes one of the roads subject to this requirement and therefore request the snow chains, if necessary.