Toulouse (/tuːˈluːz/ too-LOOZ, French: [tuluz] (listen); Occitan: Tolosa [tuˈluzɔ]; Latin: Tolosa [tɔˈloːsa]) is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France, with 479,553 inhabitants within its municipal boundaries (as of January 2017), and 1,360,829 inhabitants within its wider metropolitan area (also as of January 2017), after Paris, Lyon and Marseille, and ahead of Lille and Bordeaux.
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus (formerly EADS), the SPOT satellite system, ATR and the Aerospace Valley. It also hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNES‘s Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, ATR, SAFRAN, Liebherr-Aerospace and Airbus Defence and Space also have a significant presence in Toulouse.
The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 103,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university campus in France, after the universities of Paris, Lyon and Lille.
The air route between Toulouse–Blagnac and the Paris airports is the busiest in France, transporting 3.2 million passengers in 2019. According to the rankings of L’Express and Challenges, Toulouse is the most dynamic French city.
Founded by the Romans, the city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution), making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the Occitanie region, the second largest region in Metropolitan France.
Toulouse counts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Canal du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, designated in 1998 along with the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques because of their significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. The city’s unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks has earned Toulouse the nickname La Ville Rose (“The Pink City”).