15 Best Day Trips from Toulouse

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Toulouse is located in the southwestern part of France. It is the fourth largest and one of the richest cities in the country. Toulouse sits halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This city that radiates enchanting warmth with an inviting ambience is also referred to as France’s “Ville Rose.”

It’s a popular destination for tourists thanks to its rich historical past, the balmy temperatures, the dust-pink medieval architecture, and violets which are used to make wine and bonbons. If you are in Toulouse and would like to venture outside the city for a day trip experience, we have highlighted 15 magical destinations that you can visit:

1. Castres

Castres, FranceSource: Claudio Giovanni Colombo / shutterstock

The approximate distance from Toulouse to Castres in a straight line is 64km; the city is also 36km from Albi. Castres is located in the Midi-Pyrenees Region in the south of France.

For quite a long time, the main economic activity in Castres was the textiles industry. There is a large number of homes here that once belonged to weavers, tanners, and dryers. The homes to these professionals that brought the prosperity and glory to Castres are perched on the banks of the Agout. These houses are painted in bright colors and create beautiful reflections on the river’s waters.

2. Albi

Albi, FranceSource: Natashilo / shutterstock
Albi, France

Albi is located 75km to the northeastern end of Toulouse. The city is graced with a magnificent fortress-like cathedral that is the largest brick cathedral in the world. The impressive Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile is a magnificent Gothic Cathedral that towers over the town. Its foundation was laid in 1282 and construction went on for over 2 centuries, ending in 1480.

Apart from the cathedral, tourists also come to this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage City which lies on the Tarn River, to see the Palais de la Berbie. This is a former archbishop’s palace that is surrounded by exquisite gardens. Today, the palace is home to the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec.

Another delightful landmark in this Episcopal City is the Saint-Salvi church and the Pont Vieux, its cloister.

3. Najac

Najac, FranceSource: Joaquin Ossorio Castillo / shutterstock
Najac, France

Najac is the most beautiful village in France, amongst 140 other villages. It is located in the Aveyron department which is found at the center of a triangle formed by Toulouse, Montpellier, and Clermont- Ferrand cities. The inhabitants of this department are referred to as Aveyronnais.

Najac is known for its historic buildings and its medieval character and its economy is dependent mainly on tourism and agriculture. The village is towered by the Najac fortress and has only one main street that runs along the top of a ridge. From the fortress, you are able to enjoy some fine views of the countryside.

On your day trip, ensure that you visit the partly ruined chateau which was built by the villagers in 1253. If you have extra time on your hands, you should also tour the Eglise Saint-Jean which overlooks the lower village; it was built in the 13th century by the villagers.

Small as it is, Najac is a lovely village to explore.

4. Andorra

Andorra la VellaSource: Leonid Andronov / shutterstock
Andorra La Vella

The journey by train from Toulouse to Andorra takes approximately 3.5 hours. This mountainous country is located between France to the north and Spain to the south. In the past, between 1278 and 1994, Andorra was ruled by the French Chief of State and the Spanish Bishop of Urgell.

This country gained significant prosperity after the 2nd World War, thanks to its tourism industry. The country’s thriving economy attracted hundreds of migrant workers.

The Arinsal village in Andorra is an old village that is located in the valley. Arinsal is quite popular among tourists, especially during the ski season.

5. Marseille

Marseilles, FranceSource: S-F / shutterstock

This city is a great destination for history lovers. The city is the second most populated in the country and one of the oldest.

Marseille was founded as a port city in 600BC by the Phocaeans, who came from Ionia in ancient Greece. This city has a complex and vibrant history. It is a melting pot of different cultures, with people of varying ethnic backgrounds having made their homes here over the centures. During WWII, a lot of Spaniards and Italians immigrated into the area.

If you are looking to discover a place with amazing people, you definitely need to go on this day trip. Marseille has a lot to offer, from its colorful markets, the fjords, and the Vieux-Port.

Marseille has had some of its rough edges polished in the bid to make a comeback.

6. Cahors

Cahors, FranceSource: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock
Cahors, France

This is a city in the Midi-Pyrenees region that is famous for its vineyards, its black wine, and its Malbec grapes. The black wine dates back to the Middle Ages.

Make a trip to Cahors to drink wine at its historical source. Vineyards were first planted near Cahors in the first century by the Romans. On your trip to this medieval located in the heart of the French wine country, you will see some of the city’s rich history that came to life in the famous 14th century.

The neighboring regions are teeming with vineyards which offer their wine at much lower prices than you would find commercially.

Most of the structures here date back to the 20th century.

7. Saint Girons

Saint Girons, FranceSource: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock
Saint Girons

This pleasant town with beautiful gardens is located 101km away from Toulouse. Saint-Girons sits on the banks of the Salat. The town is located at crossroads, between the Salat valley, the mountain, and the plains.

On your day trip to Saint-Girons, take a walk on the Pont Vieux Bridge and enjoy the magnificent views. If you make your trip on a Saturday, you can visit the colorful market that opens on Saturday mornings on the Champ de Mars, under the plane trees.

8. Moissac

Saint Pierre Abbey in MoissacSource: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock
Saint Pierre Abbey in Moissac

Moissac is located approximately 71km from Toulouse. The city sits on a canal of the Tarn and Garonne rivers, in a breathtaking landscape of vine-covered hills and orchards.

During the Middle Ages, the city was an important stop for pilgrims who came to visit the Abbaye Saint-Pierre. The church was built between the 12th and the 15th century, with a magnificent façade. Abbaye Saint-Pierre is renowned for the exemplary ornamental Romanesque architecture and the richly decorated interior.

If you have more time on your hands, you can take a stroll around the town to soak up its pleasant ambience.

9. Montauban

Montauban, FranceSource: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock

This city is located a mere stone’s throw away from Moissac, and only 54km from Toulouse. This beautiful town features Roman fortifications and attractive pink brick houses.

Montauban has a rich cultural heritage and is the perfect place to explore on a day trip from Toulouse thanks to the picturesque setting offered by River Tarn.

If you are looking for a dose of the local culture, some important landmarks that you should visit include the famed Place National, the mosaic-clad 13th century St Jean Cathedral, the baroque-style 18th-century Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Museum Ingres.

This elegant and impressive commune in the South of France has plenty to keep visitors occupied.

10. Gaillac

Gaillac, FranceSource: PAUL ATKINSON / shutterstock
Gaillac, France

This stunning little town is located one hour away, northeast from Toulouse, on the Tarn River. The market town is located between Albi and Montauban. This historic wine-producing city was established during Roman times.

Gaillac started as a river port where the Gauls used to export wine into Gallia Narbonensis. Gaillac is renowned for its richly colored, spice-scented red wines. The whites come in a wide array of sweet and dry styles.

The area also has several historical monuments and animated local markets. You can see all this in a single day as you take a leisurely stroll across the city center. An important site is the Abbey of St Michel, which was built in the 10th century and reconstructed in both the 13th and 16th century.

11. Bordeaux

Bordeaux, FranceSource: Eo naya / shutterstock
Bordeaux, France

This flat city is perched on the banks of the Garonne River. Bordeaux’s old town and the magnificent neo-classical riverfront are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bordeaux is known for its wine, so expect to be raising your glass several times whenever you come visiting.

The former port is lined with 18th-century buildings that stretch for 3km. Other important city sites such as the railway station and the Quai des Chartrons are also located within this area. It is here that you will find the Botanic Gardens, a relaxed haven for nature lovers.

12. Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi, ToulouseSource: thieury / shutterstock
Canal Du Midi, Toulouse

The canal is 242km long and runs from Toulouse to the Mediterranean. The name translates to “Canal of the two seas.”

This scenic route was built to serve as a shortcut between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The canal was designed in1667 and took 12,000 workers a decade to complete the construction. In 1996, the Canal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On a trip down the calm water by boat, you will get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the surrounding region on the banks of the canal.

13. Cordes-sur-Ciel

Cordes-sur-Ciel, FranceSource: Alberto Loyo / shutterstock
Cordes-sur-Ciel, France

This picturesque village is perched on a hilltop about 25km away from Albi. Cordes-sur-Ciel translates to “Cordes in the sky.” The village got its name due to its elevated position. It was established in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse.

This tiny-walled town is characterized by cobbled streets, buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries, towers, and a medieval market hall. Cordes-sur-Ciel is also famous for its specialty crunchy cookies that are made with grilled almonds.

On a day trip to this town which boasts a gorgeous setting and many architectural treasures, you will get the chance to visit art galleries and artisan craft workshops.

14. Carcassonne

Carcassonne, FranceSource: leoks / shutterstock

This perfectly preserved fortified city in southwest France is located at the crossing of the route from Spain to France and that from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea.

Carcassonne can be visited comfortably on a day trip from Toulouse; the journey by train takes 45 minutes and about 1 hour by road. This beautiful and diverse region is well known for its walled city that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Carcassonne is home to a unique cultural and historical past making it the most popular tourist destination in Southern France.

To add to the hospitality of the locals, the local cuisine here is delicious. Your trip will be a memorable one.

15. Balma

Balma, FranceSource: Didier Descouens / Wikimedia
Balma, France

This commune is within 4km of Toulouse. It’s situated in southwest France in the Haute-Garonne area. The city was founded in 1279 as a fief of the bishopric of Toulouse.

Most visitors come to Balma in July. During this time, the price of flights is usually higher.

The best time to visit is in December when fewer people are visiting.

15 Best Day Trips from Toulouse:

  • Castres
  • Albi
  • Najac
  • Andorra
  • Marseille
  • Cahors
  • Saint Girons
  • Moissac
  • Montauban
  • Gaillac
  • Bordeaux
  • Canal du Midi
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel
  • Carcassonne
  • Balma