Guide to Toulouse

If you have been looking for TEFL courses in France, then you might be feeling a strange warm feeling while looking at some of the photos on our website. Toulouse, the romantic student town, par excellence.

Toulouse, as well as being charming, easy to manage and aesthetically beautiful, is without doubt the liveliest and most exciting city in south west France. La Ville Rose, so called because the city is built out of red brick and glows beautifully when the sun sets, is a young, friendly, warm, dynamic, yet laid back city of almost 500,000 inhabitants, and is just an hour or two by car or train to some of the best scenery France has to offer. The fastest growing city in France, it looks across the Pyrenees to Spain for its inspiration, turning its back on “polished Paris” and “bourgeois Bordeaux”, looking more towards the Pyrenees, Madrid or Barcelona. If you love France but prefer a “laissez faire” attitude, this could be the place for you! And if you are under 25, there is no question about it! Have a look at this: http://www.toulouse-visit.com.

Toulouse street

La Ville Rose!

Toulouse Christmas market

Toulouse Christmas market

Plenty of teaching work is available after the course when one considers the combination the many language schools in the city and the opportunities for freelance teaching. France is undergoing a TEFL boom, and we show you how to set up as an “auto entrepreneur” freelance TEFL teacher in France.

It is the modern combined with the old that makes Toulouse a fun place to live. The historic centre has a feel of Florence or Siena about it, whilst the Airbus industry here means that the city has an international feel, and is very well connected by low-cost European flights. In some of the more boisterous restaurants, you can find yourself sharing trestle tables with students (there are over 100,000 of them in Toulouse) and aerospace engineers! Young and old play petanque outside the TEFL Toulouse Training Centre as the sun sets, and summer days see hundreds picnicking on the banks of the Garonne river, as in the photo below, or pottering around on barges on the Canal du Midi. The weather is very hot in summer (up to 38 degrees celsius) very cold in winter (down to -5 degrees) but nearly always dry and sunny. Friday evenings in winter see an exodus from the city on trains, heading south for a cosy weekend in the Pyrenees, about 70 miles away. Join them!

This is a far cry from the “metro, boulot, dodo” life of Paris, and there are no Barcelona-style 8-lane roads cutting through the centre either.

Unlike Mediterranean cities (Nice, Montpellier, Cannes, Monaco…) Toulouse is not a tourist destination or a holiday destination for Parisians, and small enough to walk fully across the centre in 30 minutes. Everyone seems to love English speakers here! Its size is enough to inject culture and nightlife to the city. There is always something unexpected going on in the main square – the place Capitole. Live music, particularly jazz, theatre and cinema abound, every day and night of the week, and there are plenty of activities for children. Walk everywhere, or rent a bike!

Toulouse riverside

The riverside, city centre

Pont Neuf, Toulouse

Pont Neuf

The city is unique in its fondness for rugby, over soccer. “Il y a un match ce soir”, will be referring to an oval ball showdown. Rugby gives the city a certain “heartiness” and sense of fair play according to Toulousains, and we agree. The “Stade Toulousain” are recent European rugby champions.

Perhaps the best reason of all to be in Toulouse though, is where it is in Europe. Just an hour or two away by train or car in any direction is wonderful scenery and a selection of very different cultures. North is the Lot valley, the least populated region in France, with endless rolling hills, twisting rivers and vineyards. Lovers of Siena in Italy will adore Albi, home of the Cathars (and birthplace of painter Toulouse-Lautrec), about an hour away.

Driving east, after stopping for a delicious Cassoulet (the local speciality) in Castelnaudary, you will stumble upon the charming town of Carcassonne, with its incredible walled “cité” before arriving an hour later at the Mediterranean to lie on the beach. The Canal du Midi can take you along this whole route by barge (or bicycle) and many locals and holidaymakers spend the summers doing just that.

South, The Pyrenees mountains, just over an hour away by car (cheap car hire available) is a paradise for skiers, walkers, climbers and cyclists, then Spain on the other side.

The only problem is choosing where to go for your weekends away!

Three hours drive or train west brings you to the Atlantic coast: Biarritz, St Jean de Luz and San Sebastian, all of which are superb beach destinations. You could even squeeze in all 3 over a long weekend! The contrasts between France and Spain, while still never leaving the Basque Country, are fascinating.

Add to this some of the best food and restaurants in France, and the temptation to live in Toulouse is hard to withstand!

Toulouse market restaurant

Great food!

Toulouse patisserie

Great patisserie!

There are excellent job opportunities for teaching English locally around Toulouse (and nationally – several of our ex-trainees have set up their own schools in France over the past year). Suddenly, everyone in France seems to want to learn English!

France’s fastest growing city, around 20,000 people have been moving to Toulouse every year since 2000. Will any of them be your students?


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