Toulouse or Biarritz? Which city should you visit?
Considering a trip to France and can’t decide between Toulouse or Biarritz? Here’s a quick rundown to help you choose:
- History Buffs: Toulouse, often called “La Ville Rose” because of its unique terracotta buildings, offers a rich historical background. Biarritz, on the other hand, boasts of its Basque heritage and regal history.
- Beach Lovers: No contest here – Biarritz, with its surf-friendly beaches along the Atlantic coast, is your paradise.
- Foodies: If you’re after hearty southwestern French cuisine, Toulouse will delight your palate. But for a mix of Basque flavours and fresh seafood, Biarritz is a must-visit.
- Nature Enthusiasts: Toulouse offers beautiful scenic views near the Pyrenees. But for the ocean’s allure, Biarritz takes the crown.
- Urban Explorers: Toulouse has an urban charm sprinkled with historic sites. Biarritz offers a blend of seaside resort vibes and historic elegance.
- Adventure Junkies: If you’re into mountainous terrains, Toulouse is your base. For surfing and sea escapades, head straight to Biarritz.
- Wine Lovers: Toulouse provides a gateway to the wine regions of Southwest France. In contrast, Biarritz introduces you to the Basque Country’s unique wines.
- Backpackers: For a deep dive into culture and history, Toulouse is your pick. For vibrant beach life and coastal charm, Biarritz beckons.
- Over 60’s: Biarritz, with its relaxed beach town atmosphere and therapeutic seawater treatments, is perfect for those seeking relaxation. Toulouse, with its mix of history, art, and architecture, provides a calm yet stimulating environment for mature travellers.
Curious for more? Dive deeper into the unique experiences both cities have to offer in the sections below.
Toulouse, a city perfectly perched between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, offers an intriguing mix of history, innovation, and charm. Its historic centre, known as Vieux Toulouse, boasts a tapestry of coral-hued buildings that have earned it the moniker ‘La Ville Rose’, or ‘The Pink City’. But Toulouse is not just about reminiscing about the past. It’s a dynamic city teeming with academic vigour, courtesy of its vibrant student population, and is a hotbed for aeronautics and space exploration. With an array of museums, a thriving arts scene, and lively local markets, this city caters to a broad spectrum of travellers. Plus, the local cuisine, characterized by hearty Southwestern French specialities, is a gastronomic adventure in itself. If you’re seeking a unique and vibrant destination for your next vacation, Toulouse should unquestionably be on your radar!
Often referred to as the ‘surfing capital of Europe’, Biarritz is a stunning seaside city located on France’s Basque coast. It’s a place where the glamour of the old world seamlessly blends with the laid-back vibes of a surf town. Known for its grand, Belle Époque architecture, pristine beaches, and world-class surfing conditions, Biarritz is truly an ocean lover’s paradise. Not to forget the city’s vibrant food scene that boasts a unique mix of traditional Basque specialities and innovative fusion cuisine. And if that wasn’t enough, the city also offers plenty of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and historic sites. In short, Biarritz is a delightful mix of elegance, culture, and adventure – an ideal destination for any traveller!
While we’re comparing Toulouse and Biarritz in this post, we’ve also looked at how Toulouse stacks up against other cities like Marseille and Cannes. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Biarritz
- 🏦 Architecture: Known as “La Ville Rose”, Toulouse is a showcase of terracotta wonders and historic edifices.
- 🚀 Aerospace: A space lover’s dream destination, Toulouse is home to Cité de l’Espace and aerospace industries.
- 🌊 Canal Du Midi: The historic canal that winds its way through Toulouse is perfect for tranquil strolls and boat rides.
- 🍽 Cuisine: Dive into sumptuous southwestern dishes, from Toulouse sausages to cassoulet.
- 🌦 Weather: Expect a mix of warm summers and brisk winters, with occasional heavy rainfall.
- 🚗 Traffic: Peak hours can get congested, especially in the city’s bustling heart.
- 🏖 No Beach: The city’s charm is undeniable, but you’ll need to travel a bit for a sandy shoreline.
- 🌊 Beach Retreat: With its Atlantic beaches, Biarritz is a haven for sunbathers and surfers alike.
- 👑 Regal History: Once a favourite of European royalty, the city exudes an old-world charm.
- 🍴 Basque Cuisine: From pintxos to seafood, indulge in the delightful flavours of the Basque region.
- 🌅 Scenic Beauty: With the Pyrenees in the distance and rocky coastlines, Biarritz offers a visual treat.
- 💨 Windy Days: Its coastal location means some days can get quite gusty.
- 🎒 Tourist Crowds: Especially in summer, expect throngs of tourists.
- 💰 Cost of Living: Being a sought-after resort town, certain amenities and accommodations might be on the pricier side.
Which City Has Better Food? Toulouse or Biarritz?
If you’ve been researching Toulouse, you will have heard about cassoulet, the rich meat and bean stew that is famous here and the local Toulouse sausage. Both of them are a must-try, especially the cassoulet, it’s so rich and indulgent you might want to skip the starter if you don’t have a big appetite. If you’re not a big meat eater don’t worry, there is a wide variety of restaurants here that serve food that will cater to all tastes.
On the other hand, Biarritz is a good mix of seafood and traditional Basque food. Fresh oysters, marmitako (a traditional tuna stew), cured meats and pintxos. The food here is incredible. The restaurant scene here might not be as big and diverse as Toulouse, it’s more about quality over quantity. A visit to a local pintxos bar is a must. If you’ve never had pintxos, think tapas, but even smaller! There’s nothing more fun than hopping to all the different pintxos bars, having a glass of local wine and trying all the different food.
Which City is Safer? Toulouse or Biarritz?
According to Numbeo, Toulouse has a crime index of 50.62, situating it in the moderate category. A good chunk of these reported crimes concern property, such as vandalism and theft. While some neighbourhoods, especially in the northern parts, could raise eyebrows, the city’s primary tourist hubs remain considerably safe. Most visitors to Toulouse enjoy their trips without any significant concerns.
In comparison, Biarritz registers a slightly lower crime index at 49.12. Although the difference with Toulouse isn’t vast, the nature of offences in Biarritz often revolves around minor crimes like pickpocketing, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. Despite this, Biarritz’s relatively laid-back feel adds to the overall feeling of security. As always, tourists should practice standard precautions, such as safeguarding personal belongings and being watchful in crowded spots or during late hours.
How long to stay in Toulouse
Figuring out how long to stay in Toulouse? That’s a great question and depends on what kind of trip you’re planning. If you’re popping by for a quick visit, I’d say two to three days should suffice. This will give you enough time to visit the main sights, such as the iconic Capitole de Toulouse, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, and the Toulouse Museum of Natural History.
But if you’re anything like me and love to delve a little deeper, immersing yourself in the local culture and lifestyle, you might want to consider staying a little longer – perhaps around five to seven days. This will allow you to explore at a leisurely pace, have time to appreciate the city’s vibrant arts scene, meander through the charming neighbourhoods, and even try out some of the local bistros and cafes. Trust me, the cassoulet is to die for!
Toulouse is also a great base to explore the surrounding region. If you plan on taking day trips to places like Carcassonne or Albi, then a week or even ten days would be a good estimate.
In the end, remember this – travel isn’t a race. It’s about the experiences, the people, the food, the culture, and the memories you make. So, take your time in Toulouse and enjoy what the ‘Pink City’ has to offer!
How long to stay in Biarritz
Three to Four Days: A 3-4 day trip can cover the highlights of Biarritz. You’ll have enough time to stroll around the city centre, visit the main landmarks such as the Rocher de la Vierge and the Biarritz Lighthouse, and soak in the atmosphere of the Les Halles market. Of course, don’t forget to spend some quality time at the Grand Plage, the city’s famous beach. You may also squeeze in a visit to the Aquarium de Biarritz or the Asiatica Museum if you’re interested.
Five to Seven Days: If you’ve got a week in Biarritz, that’s even better! You can take your time exploring the city at a leisurely pace, trying out various water sports, or indulging in the renowned thalassotherapy for which Biarritz is famous. With a few extra days on your hands, consider making day trips to nearby locations like the charming town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz or even cross the border into Spain to explore San Sebastian.
Of course, the length of stay in Biarritz depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re seeking a relaxed beach holiday with a sprinkling of city exploration, a longer stay would be suitable. However, if you’re on a whirlwind tour of France or trying to cover multiple cities, a shorter stay would work too. Regardless, Biarritz promises an amazing holiday!
Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Toulouse or Biarritz?
If you’re on a budget, Toulouse might be the better option for you. It’s filled with free and low-cost attractions like the Garonne River, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin and the Capitole de Toulouse. The food here isn’t as expensive either.
Biarritz was once a holiday destination for Royalty, so it’s got a price tag to match. Restaurants and accommodation are more expensive here and there aren’t as many free attractions. But, if you’re planning on spending most of your time on the beach or walking along the rugged coastline I wouldn’t worry too much. If you make use of the local market (Halles de Biarritz) and eat at restaurants where the locals eat, you can save a lot of money.
How much is food and drink in Toulouse and Biarritz?
|€5 – €7
|€4 – €7
|Glass of Wine
|€3 – €10
|€4 – €10
|€1.50 – €3
|€2 – €4
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant
|€15 – €30
|€20 – €40
Please note that these prices are approximate and can vary based on factors such as the establishment, location, and other considerations.
How much is it to stay in Toulouse or Biarritz?
|€150 – €500+
|€200 – €600+
|€70 – €150
|€80 – €200
|€40 – €70
|€50 – €80
|€20 – €40
|€20 – €40
Please note that these prices are approximate and can vary based on factors such as the time of year, location, specific hotel or hostel, and the quality of accommodation.
When is the best time to visit Toulouse?
Picking the best time to explore Toulouse is a big part of your planning. Known for its temperate climate, Toulouse can be great to visit throughout the year, each season bringing its own charm and unique experiences.
Spring: Season of Blossoms
Spring (March to May) in Toulouse is a beautiful season, the trees will be blossoming and the temperature won’t be too high. This time is ideal for sightseeing and soaking in Toulouse’s distinct architectural beauty, particularly the Capitole and Saint-Sernin Basilica. Spring is also the start of the outdoor festival season, adding an extra dash of liveliness to your visit.
Summer: Lively and Sunny
Summers (June to August) in Toulouse are warm and vibrant. This is a great time to indulge in outdoor activities, such as a leisurely stroll along the Garonne River or a picnic in the lush Japanese Garden. Summer evenings in Toulouse are particularly charming with open-air concerts and night markets for you to explore.
Autumn: Artistic Colours
Autumn (September to November) brings a beautiful colour palette to Toulouse, with the tree-lined avenues transitioning to shades of gold and red. The weather remains pleasant for outdoor exploration. In addition, the cultural calendar is full, making it a perfect time for art and music lovers to visit the city.
Winter: Serene and Festive
Winter (December to February) in Toulouse is typically cool and sometimes rainy.. With fewer tourists around, you can explore the city’s impressive museums and galleries at your own pace. Don’t miss the Toulouse Christmas Market for a dash of festive spirit and warm, comforting treats.
Weather: Toulouse has a fairly temperate climate, making it suitable for visits year-round. Summers can get a tad warm, but winters are generally mild. For the most pleasant weather, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April to June or September to October. These periods provide a good balance of excellent weather and manageable tourist crowds.
When is the best time to visit Biarritz?
Deciding on the perfect time to visit Biarritz can be as vital as choosing what activities you want to do. The city, known for its beautiful beaches and surf culture, has a temperate oceanic climate, which means it can be visited throughout the year, though some seasons offer unique experiences.
Spring: Surf’s Up
Spring (March to May) in Biarritz is an ideal time for surfers as the waves are just right and the weather is becoming warmer. It’s also less crowded, offering you an intimate experience with the city. This is a great time to learn surfing if you’re new to the sport as many surf schools open their doors for the season.
Summer: Sun, Sea, and Sand
Summers (June to August) in Biarritz are vibrant and sunny, making it the perfect season for beach activities, from sunbathing to swimming. The city buzzes with tourists and locals alike, creating a lively atmosphere. Keep in mind, this is also peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
Autumn: Tranquil Beauty
Autumn (September to November) brings a peaceful charm to Biarritz. The summer crowds thin, and the city regains its tranquillity. The weather remains pleasant, and the Atlantic Ocean is still warm enough for swimming and surfing. This season is also ideal for leisurely walks to appreciate the changing colours of nature.
Winter: Serene Solitude
Winter (December to February) in Biarritz is relatively mild and quieter, with fewer tourists. It’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, like the Biarritz History Museum or the Asiatica Museum, without the crowds. You could also take this time to enjoy the city’s renowned thalassotherapy centres for a relaxing spa experience.
Weather: The weather in Biarritz is generally mild, with warm summers and cool winters. Rain is evenly distributed throughout the year, so an umbrella could come in handy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder seasons of April to June or September to October, when the weather is most agreeable, and there are fewer tourists.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|10° / 2°
|13° / 5°
|11° / 3°
|14° / 5°
|14° / 5°
|16° / 7°
|17° / 7°
|17° / 9°
|21° / 11°
|20° / 12°
|25° / 14°
|23° / 15°
|28° / 16°
|25° / 17°
|28° / 16°
|25° / 17°
|25° / 13°
|24° / 15°
|20° / 10°
|21° / 12°
|13° / 5°
|16° / 8°
|10° / 3°
|14° / 6°
Getting around Toulouse:
Toulouse is very easy to get around, with regular buses, trams and a metro system there are plenty of options. The public transport system is clean and well-maintained. You’ll find it easy to get around the city when using it. The Toulouse city pass is well worth getting if you plan on using public transport a lot. If you want a more active holiday, the city is very walkable. You could even hire a bike if you wanted to get around a bit quicker. As with any city, taxis and Uber are readily available.
Getting around Biarritz:
Biarritz, being a compact town, offers multiple easy travel options. The local bus system, Chronoplus, provides regular services around town and to nearby areas.
For those wishing to venture further, car rentals are available, although parking can be tricky during peak season. Within the city, walking is a popular choice due to the town’s small size, allowing you to reach most places on foot.
Bike rentals offer an active alternative for getting around, and of course, taxis and rideshare services like Uber are always at your disposal for convenient, direct transport. However, these might come with a higher cost compared to public transportation.
Top things to do in Toulouse
Capitole de Toulouse: This stunning city hall and opera house is an iconic sight in Toulouse. Its grand façade and beautiful square are absolute must-sees when in the city.
Cité de l’espace: A unique experience for space enthusiasts, Cité de l’espace offers fascinating insights into the universe and space exploration. You can see life-sized rockets, try astronaut activities, and even observe the skies in the planetarium.
Basilique Saint-Sernin: This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a highlight of any visit to Toulouse.
Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine: As a main shopping street in Toulouse, Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine offers a vibrant mix of shops, boutiques, and cafés. It’s a great place to soak up the city’s lively atmosphere.
Banks of the Garonne: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Garonne River. The riverside is beautifully developed and offers spectacular views of Toulouse’s historic buildings and bridges. Consider a river cruise for a different perspective of the city.
Top things to do in Biarritz
Biarritz’s Beaches: Famed for their beauty and surf-friendly waves, Biarritz’s beaches are the heart of the town. Grande Plage, the largest beach, offers plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming, while Côte des Basques is the surfers’ choice.
Musée de la Mer: This sea museum offers insight into marine life with numerous aquariums housing everything from sharks to sea urchins. It’s an ideal destination for families and marine enthusiasts.
Phare de Biarritz: The Biarritz Lighthouse stands tall on the town’s northern cliff. You can climb the 248 steps to the top for a panoramic view of Biarritz and its surrounding areas.
Rocher de la Vierge: This iconic rock formation is accessed by a bridge and offers stunning views over Biarritz. Named for the statue of the Virgin Mary placed on top of it, it’s a picturesque spot worth visiting.
Les Halles de Biarritz: To taste the flavours of Biarritz, visit Les Halles, the town’s vibrant food market. Here, you’ll find a fantastic assortment of regional produce, cheeses, pastries, and seafood to savour.
How to spend three days in Toulouse
Day 1: Explore the Vibrant City Centre
Kick off your Toulouse adventure in the bustling city centre. Start your day at the Capitole de Toulouse, a magnificent city hall that also houses an opera house. Be sure to take memorable photos of its grand façade. Stroll down Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine for some retail therapy and grab lunch at one of the many inviting cafés. In the afternoon, visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at its Romanesque architecture. Conclude your day with a delightful dinner in the lively Saint-Georges district, a hotspot for local gastronomy.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Science and Space
Begin your second day at the Cité de l’espace, Toulouse’s famous space city. Dive into the world of space exploration and get a closer look at rockets, satellites, and more. Post lunch, head to the Musée des Augustins to admire a rich collection of fine arts from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Later in the afternoon, visit the modern art museum, Les Abattoirs. Round off the day with a relaxing dinner in the Carmes district, renowned for its chic bars and restaurants.
Day 3: Venture Beyond the City
On your last day, consider exploring the surroundings of Toulouse. Take a half-day trip to the medieval city of Carcassonne, where you can explore the old town, fortified city walls, and its fairytale-like castle. Back in Toulouse, spend the rest of your afternoon strolling along the banks of the Garonne River, or relax in the expansive Prairie des Filtres park for a leisurely end to your trip.
How to spend three days in Biarritz
Day 1: Embrace the Ocean’s Call
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the Grande Plage, Biarritz’s main beach, perhaps even braving a morning dip. Later, explore the marine life at the Musée de la Mer Aquarium, where the seal feeding sessions are a highlight. As the day mellows, find a cosy spot in the Old Port area to enjoy some local pintxos and a picturesque sunset.
Day 2: Ride the Waves and Revel in the Views
Kick off your second day by diving into Biarritz’s renowned surf culture with a lesson at a local surf school. In the afternoon, wind down with a scenic walk along Rocher de la Vierge, an iconic rock formation offering breathtaking views. Cap off your day with a fresh seafood dinner at the charming Port des Pêcheurs.
Day 3: Explore Local Flavors and Neighboring Charm
Start your final day early at Les Halles de Biarritz, sampling fresh local produce from the bustling market. Later, venture out on a short bus ride to the neighbouring town of Bayonne. Absorb its picturesque streets, try the famous Bayonne ham, and let the city’s Basque charm captivate you. Finish your trip back to Biarritz with a farewell drink overlooking the ocean.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org