Toulouse is Top of the Polls

Place St Georges, Toulouse

I was lucky enough to be in central Toulouse last week. Toulouse is one of those places that I like more and more each time I visit perhaps because it takes time to get to know but maybe also because it has changed almost beyond recognition in the last 20 years. It still has its characteristic narrow cobbled streets that meander in no logical direction, always the promise of something interesting around the next corner. It is also a very pretty place, with the Garonne River flowing through the middle, numerous lovely squares and an incredibly eclectic mix of shops, bars and restaurants. What has changed though is that these restaurants are no longer just offering French food and drink but pretty much every type of cuisine you could hope to find; Toulouse has always been a very European city, but it has become truly international.

Even better is that the focus is now on pedestrians and cyclists rather than cars which gives the whole place a much more relaxed, safe feel. Roads have become tree and grass-lined, pedestrian boulevards and car parks are hidden away underground while the bike-hire scheme and the tram system are both excellent. Toulouse is also very notably a ‘young’ city – or maybe I am just getting old! But everywhere there are students and children and young families and great fashions and style which combine to create a great energy and make the city a fantastic place for people watching.

Not surprising, therefore, that Toulouse often appears in surveys as the favourite place to live in France and the place that many younger French people and families aspire to move. There is also a clear bias to the southwest of France in general with aspects such as overall quality of life, employment, schools and universities and affordability all pushing the region to the top of the rankings.

People choose this region to live for many and varied reasons but an oft cited one is the preference to be within striking distance of a vibrant and thriving city and Toulouse fits this bill perfectly. Toulouse is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and the fourth largest city in France (after Paris, Marseille and Lyon). Toulouse has been a major success story; the city has attracted a vast range of investment from companies in the high-tech sector, the aeronautical industry and the medical world, including public and private sector investment in the largest cancer hospital and research centre in Europe, the Toulouse Canceropole.

This popularity seems to be increasing; the number of potential buyers looking for property in Toulouse has doubled since January this year (7% more buyers than sellers at the start of the year compared to 14% currently). And over the last 10 years prices are up 27% according to the latest figures from the Notaires de France.

Another important consideration when deciding on a location is the access and transport links and in the region around Toulouse, these are excellent. Toulouse International Airport is set just outside the western side of the city and receives direct flights from across the UK and worldwide. For those preferring not to fly, there are many train services to and from Toulouse and within 10 years there will be a TGV line from Toulouse to Paris bringing the Capital to within three hours by train.

Proximity to Toulouse was one of the reasons that we chose to move to this region, and it seems that we are not alone.

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