Toulouse or Nantes? – Which City Will You Visit?

Toulouse or Nantes - Which city to visit?

Toulouse or Nantes? Which city should you visit?

Considering a trip to France and can’t decide between visiting Toulouse or Nantes? Here’s a definitive rundown to help you pinpoint your next destination:

  • History Buffs: While Nantes boasts the impressive Château des Ducs de Bretagne and a rich maritime legacy, Toulouse’s “La Ville Rose” heritage with pink terracotta buildings gives it a slight edge for sheer architectural charm.
  • Beach Lovers: Being closer to the Atlantic coast and its beautiful beaches, it’s an easy win for Nantes,
  • Foodies: If you want Breton specialities like crêpes and local seafood, Nantes should be on your list. But for a meaty taste of southwestern France, Toulouse is the place to go!
  • Nature Enthusiasts: With the Pyrenees close by along with the Garonne River and Canal du Midi Toulouse wins this one. But if you want to be closer to the sea, Nantes is for you.
  • Urban Explorers: Nantes delivers a fusion of medieval and modern, but Toulouse’s bustling energy, amplified by its student population, offers a livelier getaway.
  • Adventure Junkies: The proximity to the Pyrenees makes Toulouse the ultimate choice for adrenaline-seekers, but Nantes holds its own with river adventures and the Atlantic coast.
  • Wine Lovers: While Nantes offers a sip of the Loire Valley, Toulouse, closer to famous wine regions, reigns supreme for wine lovers.
  • Backpackers: If you’re hunting for budget-friendly hostels and more fellow travellers, Toulouse’s energy might be more appealing. But if exploring unique local neighbourhoods and easy access to both city and coastal day trips is your thing, then Nantes wins.
  • Over 60’s: For those seeking a leisurely pace without missing out on historical gems, Toulouse is best. Yet, Nantes, with its cultural tapestry and serene riverbanks, is also a great option.

Still unsure? Dive deeper into our detailed comparison below to find the perfect fit for your next adventure!


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!

Place du Capitole Toulouse
Place du Capitole Toulouse


Nantes, often touted as the most liveable city in Europe, is a delightful fusion of history and innovation, seamlessly intertwining its rich heritage with a progressive mindset. This Atlantic Coast city, once the capital of Brittany, has a vibrant culture marked by the stunning Château des ducs de Bretagne, the whimsical Machines de l’Île, and the lush Jardin des Plantes. Its dynamic art scene is alive not just in the many museums, but also on the streets with an array of public art. Nantes is also a city of festivals, with music, film, and art celebrations occurring throughout the year. Add to this a blossoming food scene with a fondness for local produce and seafood, and it’s clear why Nantes is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

While we’re comparing Toulouse and Nantes in this post, we’ve also looked at how Toulouse stacks up against other cities like Strasbourg, Paris and Lille. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Toulouse or Strasbourg

Toulouse or Lille

Paris or Toulouse

Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Nantes

Toulouse Pros:

  • 🏦 Architecture: Fondly dubbed “La Ville Rose,” Toulouse boasts blush-hued buildings that paint a dreamy urban landscape.
  • 🚀 Aerospace: Step into the stars! As the hub of aerospace, Toulouse is a great destination for space lovers.
  • 🌊 Canal Du Midi: This world-famous canal starts at Toulouse and is perfect for days out.
  • 🍽 Cuisine: Culinary delights like duck confit and cassoulet await, promising a gastronomic adventure.

Toulouse Cons:

  • 🌦 Weather: Experience all seasons; the Toulouse package includes scorching summers and chilly winters.
  • 🚗 Traffic: Busy streets and traffic jams might test your patience during rush hours.
  • 🏖 No Beach: While brimming with charm, Toulouse isn’t close to the sea.

Nantes Pros:

  • 🌊 Riverside Beauty: Nantes, cradled by the Loire River, offers breathtaking waterfront views and activities.
  • 🎨 Cultural Scene: Dive into Nantes’ rich arts scene, from Les Machines of the Isle of Nantes to numerous festivals.
  • 🌳 Parks and Gardens: Spaces like the Japanese Garden on Île de Versailles promise a peaceful escape.
  • 🍷 Local Produce: Savour unique flavours, be it Nantes’ famed butter biscuits or the wines of the Loire Valley.

Nantes Cons:

  • 🌧 Rain: The city often dons a grey cloak, with frequent rainfall being a staple.
  • 🚲 Transportation: While the city has a decent public transport system, certain areas might feel less accessible without a bike or car.
  • 💰 Entertainment Costs: Although the city offers diverse entertainment options, some can be pricey.

Which City Has Better Food? Toulouse or Nantes?

The food in Toulouse is pretty amazing, it’s famous for cassoulet. A bean and meat stew, that’s rich and indulgent. It’s usually duck with pork and sausages. But. it’s heavy on the stomach so make sure you go with an appetite. Toulouse is also known for its sausages which are seriously good. Veggies don’t fear though, the city’s restaurant scene is very diverse, if you don’t fancy all this meat you’ll be able to find alternatives easily. We went to a Lebanese restaurant called O Saj and had falafel and hummus, it was extremely good and very cheap!

On the flip side we’ve got Nantes, this city is all about seafood. You’ll find plenty of dishes with shellfish like Oysters and Mussels, perfect with a glass of local white wine. Crêpes Bretonnes is a local dish usually enjoyed for breakfast that we loved! The savoury ones are a must-try! Everyone will recognise the Petit-Beurre Nantais, Nantes’ world-famous butter biscuits. Perfect with a cup of coffee!

So, while both cities are fantastic food hubs, it really boils down to what you’re in the mood for. Want some hearty French classics? Head to Toulouse. Craving the seafood, Nantes is for you.

Which City is Better For Couples? Toulouse or Nantes?

If you and your partner are the sort who adore strolling picturesque streets, then Toulouse might just be the place for you. Its scenic squares, such as the Place du Capitole, offer numerous cosy cafes where you can enjoy a coffee or wine while soaking in the city’s atmosphere. And for a touch of romance? A boat ride on the Canal du Midi is always pretty special.

If both of you have an inclination for fairy tales, Nantes, with its majestic Château des Ducs de Bretagne, might just be the place for you. Besides its history, Nantes offers couples lovely gardens like the “Jardin des Plantes”, perfect for lazy afternoon picnics. As evening approaches, the city’s riverside sparkles with lights, with plenty of eateries where you can enjoy a romantic dinner.

Which City is Safer? Toulouse or Nantes?

According to Numbeo, Toulouse has a crime index of 50.62, which falls into the moderate category. Most of the reported crimes are property-related, such as vandalism and theft. There are certain neighbourhoods in the North that might be best avoided, especially after dark. However, most of the main tourist spots in the city remain relatively safe, and visitors generally have a hassle-free experience.

On the other hand, Nantes presents a slightly worse picture with a crime index of 58.91. Just like any bustling city, the majority of these crimes involve incidents like pickpocketing and minor thefts. The more concerning offences usually occur away from the city centre, in areas where tourists typically don’t go. As always, it’s good practice to be mindful of your belongings and to avoid going out alone late at night.

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 Nantes

Deciding how long to stay in Nantes can be a tough call, given the city’s rich history, captivating art scene, and vibrant culture. The duration of your stay primarily depends on your personal interests and how leisurely you wish to explore.

If your goal is to soak up the city’s lively vibe, stroll through the historic city centre, and sample some local gastronomy, a stay of 2 to 3 days should be enough. This gives you sufficient time to wander through the cobbled streets of the Bouffay district, take a relaxing walk along the Erdre River, and indulge in regional cuisine at a traditional French restaurant.

However, if you wish to delve deeper into Nantes’ cultural heritage and history, consider extending your visit to 4 to 5 days. This will allow ample time to discover historical sites like the Château des ducs de Bretagne, appreciate modern art installations of the Voyage à Nantes, and visit the Machines of the Isle of Nantes without feeling pressed for time.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, spending a week in Nantes can be an excellent choice. This period will not only provide time to thoroughly explore the city’s attractions but also leave room for relaxing moments in the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, embarking on day trips to nearby gems like the charming vineyards of the Loire Valley, and truly immersing yourself in the vibrant lifestyle of Nantes.”

Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Toulouse or Nantes?

Toulouse offers plenty of affordable options. Wander around the historic Capitole square, relax in the verdant Jardin des Plantes, or discover the Canal du Midi – all without costing a penny. Savoury delights like cassoulet and Toulouse sausage are lovely and easy on the pocket. There is an abundance of budget-friendly restaurants dotted all around the city too. The beautiful Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse is completely free to enter and the Museum de Toulouse is free on the first Sunday of each month.

Nantes has a good range of budget-friendly options. But maybe not quite as many as Toulouse. The medieval Château des Ducs de Bretagne and its beautiful gardens are free on the first Sunday of the month (apart from July and August). The Passage Pommeraye, a 19th-century shopping arcade, is worth a visit if you like architecture and shopping. A walk or cycle along the Loire River is always free too!

How much is food and drink in Toulouse and Nantes?

Toulouse Nantes
Beer €5 – €7 €5 – €8
Glass of Wine €3 – €10 €4 – €10
Coffee €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 Nantes?

Toulouse Nantes
Luxury Hotel €150 – €500+ €150 – €400+
Midrange Hotel €70 – €150 €70 – €150
Budget Hotel €40 – €70 €40 – €70
Hostel €20 – €40 €20 – €40

Please note that these prices are approximate and can vary based on factors such as 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 Nantes?

Spring: In Nantes, the months of April to June bring mild and comfortable weather, with temperatures ranging from 12-20°C (54-68°F). The city starts to burst into colour with blossoming flowers, making it a lovely time to explore parks like the Jardin des Plantes. Various outdoor events and festivals start taking place, adding a vibrant touch to your visit.

Summer: From July to August, temperatures can reach up to 25°C (77°F), offering perfect weather for enjoying the city’s outdoor attractions like the Île de Versailles. Do note, however, that these are the peak tourist months, so expect a bit more crowd and possibly higher prices.

Autumn: The months of September and October see temperatures around 15-20°C (59-68°F). The city is less crowded during this period, and the fall foliage in parks and along the riverbanks provides a beautiful backdrop for leisurely walks and bike rides.

Winter: From November to March, temperatures in Nantes can drop to around 5-10°C (41-50°F). While it’s not the ideal time for outdoor activities, it’s a good opportunity to explore Nantes’ museums, like the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, and enjoy indoor events and concerts.

Regardless of when you plan to visit, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast closer to your travel dates as conditions can sometimes change.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Toulouse Nantes
Month Temperature (High/Low) Rainy Days Temperature (High/Low) Rainy Days
January 10° / 2° 9 days 9° / 3° 12 days
February 11° / 3° 8 days 10° / 3° 10 days
March 14° / 5° 8 days 13° / 4° 9 days
April 17° / 7° 9 days 16° / 6° 8 days
May 21° / 11° 9 days 19° / 9° 9 days
June 25° / 14° 7 days 23° / 12° 7 days
July 28° / 16° 5 days 25° / 14° 6 days
August 28° / 16° 5 days 25° / 14° 6 days
September 25° / 13° 5 days 22° / 12° 7 days
October 20° / 10° 6 days 17° / 9° 10 days
November 13° / 5° 8 days 13° / 5° 11 days
December 10° / 3° 7 days 10° / 3° 12 days

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 Nantes:

Nantes boasts an efficient and user-friendly public transportation system, which includes trams, buses, and a bike-sharing scheme called Bicloo. The tram network in Nantes is one of the most extensive in France, with three lines covering many key attractions in the city. Your tram ticket will also allow you to hop on and off buses within a set period, typically an hour, which makes getting around the city a breeze.

For those who prefer a more active mode of transport, the Bicloo bike-sharing scheme offers an excellent option. Nantes is known for being a bicycle-friendly city with numerous dedicated cycle lanes and routes, making it easy and safe to navigate.

Walking is another great way to explore Nantes, especially in the compact city centre where many of the key sites are located. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the city’s beautiful architecture and vibrant street life up close.

Taxis and Ubers are readily available in Nantes. However, be aware that in the pedestrianized zones of the city centre, you may need to walk a short distance to catch a ride.

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.

Inside the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse (inside)
Inside the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse

Top things to do in Nantes

Château des Ducs de Bretagne: A must-visit landmark in Nantes, this impressive castle is home to the Nantes History Museum. With its beautiful architecture and fascinating exhibits, it offers an insightful look into the city’s past.

Les Machines de l’île: This unique artistic project is one of the city’s major attractions. Here, you can see gigantic mechanical animals, including the famous Grand Elephant. It’s an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults.

Passage Pommeraye: An architectural masterpiece, this three-level shopping arcade dating from the 19th century is a great place to shop or simply admire its artistic beauty.

Jardin des Plantes: This stunning botanical garden is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing stroll. It’s home to a variety of exotic plants, beautiful greenhouses, and even a few art installations.

The Island of Nantes: This creative district located on a former shipyard site is a hub of culture and innovation. It’s home to various creative projects and installations, making it a must-visit for any art and culture lover.

Passage Pommeraye nantes

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 Nantes

Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Nantes

Begin your Nantes adventure in the city centre. Visit the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, home to the Nantes History Museum. Enjoy exploring the medieval fortress and its surrounding gardens. Afterwards, head to the Gothic-style Nantes Cathedral nearby. For lunch, find a local restaurant to sample some regional cuisine.

In the afternoon, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the scenic Loire River. Then, head to the Passage Pommeraye, an elegant shopping arcade from the 19th century. Round off your day with a delicious dinner at one of the city’s gourmet restaurants.

Day 2: Delving into Art and Innovation

Start your second day at Les Machines de l’île, a unique attraction inspired by the works of Jules Verne. Here, you can ride the gigantic Grand Elephant or the Marine Worlds Carousel. Post lunch, explore the creative district on the Island of Nantes, which is home to various artistic projects and installations.

In the evening, take a walk around the Trentemoult district, a former fishing village known for its colourful houses. Enjoy dinner at a riverside restaurant with views of the Loire River.

Day 3: Enjoying Nature and Leisure

Dedicate your last day to Nantes’ beautiful green spaces. Begin with a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, a stunning botanical garden. After a picnic lunch in the park, take a short boat ride to the quaint village of Trentemoult.

In the afternoon, explore the unique vineyards of the Nantes Wine Region or consider a short trip to the Atlantic coast, just a stone’s throw away from the city. End your trip with a farewell dinner in Nantes, reminiscing over your favourite moments from the trip.




Scroll to Top