Toulouse Geese

Toulouse

[too-looz]

Toulouse (IPA in standard French, and in the local accent) (Occitan: Tolosa, pronounced [tuˈluzɔ]) is a city in southwest France on the banks of the Garonne River, half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. With 1,117,000 inhabitants in 2007, the Toulouse metropolitan area is the fourth-largest in France and the fastest growing in Europe.

Toulouse is one of the centers of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, and CNES's Toulouse Space Center (CST), the largest space center in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, Europe's largest satellite manufacturer, and EADS Astrium Satellites, EADS's satellite system subsidiary, also have a significant presence in Toulouse. Its world renowned university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 120,000 students, is the third largest university campus of France after Paris and Lyon.

Toulouse was the capital of the former province of Languedoc (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution). It is now the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the largest region in metropolitan France. It is also the capital of the Haute-Garonne department.

History

Born during the Roman Empire, Toulouse was once a major metropolis of western Europe, but it sank into a sleepy regional-level status in the 18th and 19th centuries, completely missing the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, relocation of key military and aerospace industries in Toulouse by the French central government have awakened the city again.

Benefiting from its status as Europe's capital of aerospace industry, as well as from the flow of population from the industrial belt to the sunbelt of Europe, Toulouse metropolitan area doubled its population between 1960 and 2000 (in the meantime the population of France increased only by 30%). With good prospects for aerospace and biotech industries, growth is likely to continue in the near future.

Population

Historical Population
Urban Area Metropolitan
Area
1695 43,000
1750 48,000
1790 52,863
1801 50,171
1831 59,630
1851 95,277
1872 126,936
1911 149,000
1936 213,220
1946 264,411
1954 268,865
1962 329,044
1968 439,764 474,000
1975 509,939 585,000
1982 541,271 645,000
1999 761,090 964,797
2007
(estimate)
880,000 1,117 000
Note:

  • figures provided by French national statistics office INSEE
  • figures up to and including 1954 can be compared with each other, as the limits of the urban area did not change until 1954, being only the city of Toulouse; after 1954 the urban area starts to include suburban communes, and the limits vary year after year
  • INSEE started calculating metropolitan area data only in 1990, a metropolitan area being different from an urban area in that it also includes satellite towns and the agricultural land in between, thus better reflecting the modern-day phenomenon of commutes and hubs; metropolitan area data before 1990 are only estimates

The population of the city proper (French: commune) was 390,350 (as of the 1999 census), with 964,797 inhabitants in the metropolitan area (French: aire urbaine) (as of 1999 census). As of the January 1, 2005 estimate, the population of the city proper reached 435,000 inhabitants, which means a record 1.9% population growth per year between 1999 and 2005 for the city proper.

Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon. In 1999 Toulouse was the fifth largest metropolitan area in France, after Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Lille.

Fueled by booming aerospace and high-tech industries, population growth of 1.5% a year in the metropolitan area in the 1990s (compared with a sluggish 0.37% for metropolitan France), and a record 2.2% yearly growth in the 2000s (0.58% for metropolitan France), means Toulouse metropolitan area hit the 1,000,000 inhabitants mark in 2002 or 2003. Boasting the highest population growth of any French metropolitan area larger than 500,000 inhabitants, Toulouse is well on its way to overtake Lille as the fourth largest metropolitan area and Lyon as the third largest city of France. With 2.2% yearly population growth in the metropolitan area, Toulouse is also the fastest growing metropolitan area larger than one million inhabitants in Europe.

Government and politics

Community of the Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse

The Community of Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse (Communauté d'agglomération du Grand Toulouse) was created in 2001 to better coordinate transport, infrastructure and economic policies between the city of Toulouse and its immediate independent suburbs. It succeeds a previous district which had been created in 1992 with less powers than the current council. It combines the city of Toulouse and 24 independent communes, covering an area of 380 km² (147 sq. miles), totaling a population of 583,229 inhabitants (as of 1999 census), 67% of whom live in the city of Toulouse proper. As of February 2004 estimate, the total population of the Community of Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse was 651,209 inhabitants, 65.5% of whom live in the city of Toulouse. Due to local political feuds, the Community of Agglomeration only hosts 61% of the population of the metropolitan area, the other independent suburbs having refused to join in.

Local politics

One of the major political figures in Toulouse was Dominique Baudis, the mayor of Toulouse between 1983 and 2001, member of center-right UDF. First known as a journalist famous for his coverage of the war in Lebanon, 36 year-old Dominique Baudis succeeded his father Pierre Baudis in 1983 as mayor of Toulouse. (Pierre Baudis was mayor from 1971 to 1983.) The Baudis dynasty succeeded in turning Toulouse into a center-right stronghold, whereas historically the city had been left-leaning since the 19th century. Dominique Baudis is also known as a writer who wrote historical novels about the ancient counts of Toulouse, their crusade in the Middle East, and the Albigensian Crusade. During his time as mayor, Toulouse's economy and population boomed. Baudis' policies were deliberately moderate, and he always tried to accommodate (opponents would say anesthetize) the left. He tried to strengthen the international role of Toulouse (such as its Airbus operations), as well as revive the cultural heritage of the city. The Occitan cross, flag of Languedoc and symbol of the counts of Toulouse, was chosen as the new flag of the city, instead of the traditional coat of arms of Toulouse (which included the fleurs-de-lis of the French monarchy). Many cultural institutions were created, in order to attract foreign expatriates and emphasize the city's past. For example, monuments dating from the time of the counts of Toulouse were restored, the city's symphonic concert hall (Halle aux Grains) was refurbished, a city theater was built, a Museum of Modern Art was founded, the Bemberg Foundation (European paintings and bronzes from the Renaissance to the 20th century) was established, a huge pop music concert venue (Zénith, the largest in France outside Paris) was built, the space museum and educational park Cité de l'Espace was founded, etc.

To deal with growth, major housing and transportation projects were launched. Perhaps the one for which Baudis is most famous is the Toulouse Metro: line A of the subway was opened in 1993, and Baudis succeeded in having work started on line B (which opened in 2007), despite strong local opposition to the anticipated costs. The creation of a system of underground car parking structures in downtown Toulouse was sharply criticized by the Green Party, although it certainly fulfilled the demands of downtown Toulouse store and shop owners, and makes life easier for people who cannot use public transportation to go downtown.

Despite all these massive undertakings, the city's economy proved so strong that Dominique Baudis was able to announce, in 1999, that the city had finished repaying its debt, making it the only large city in France ever to achieve solvency. In Europe, typical per capita city debt for a city the size of Toulouse is around 1,200 euros. Achieving solvency was a long-standing goal for Baudis, who had said that he would extinguish city debt before leaving office. Local opposition, however, has criticized this achievement, saying that the task of governments is not to run zero-deficit, but to ensure the well-being of citizens, through social benefits, housing programs for poor people, etc.

In 2000, Dominique Baudis was at the zenith of his popularity, with approval rates of 85%. He announced that he would not run for a fourth (6-year) term in 2001. He explained that with 3 terms he was already the longest-serving mayor of Toulouse since the French Revolution; he felt that change would be good for the city, and that the number of terms should be limited. He endorsed Philippe Douste-Blazy, then UDF mayor of Lourdes as his successor. Baudis has since been appointed president of the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel) in Paris, the French equivalent of the American FCC.

Philippe Douste-Blazy narrowly won in the 2001 elections, which saw the left making its best showing in decades. Douste-Blazy had to deal with a reinvigorated political opposition, as well as with the dramatic explosion of the AZF plant in late 2001.

In March 2004 he entered the national government, and left Toulouse in the hands of his second-in-command Jean-Luc Moudenc, elected mayor by the municipal council. In March 2008, Moudenc was defeated by the Socialist Party's candidate Pierre Cohen.

Sights

Religious buildings

Economy

The Toulouse metropolitan area's GDP is estimated to be around $ 45 billion and GDP per capita around $ 41 000.

The main industries are aeronautics, space, electronics, information technology and biotechnology. Toulouse hosts the Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines of Airbus A300 A310 A320 A330 A340 and A380. The others (A318, A319, A321 and A380 interior furnishing) being in Hamburg, Germany. Airbus intends to relocate Toulouse A320 final assembly activity to Hamburg, with A350 and A380 production going in the opposite direction as part of its Power8 organization plan begun under ex-CEO Christian Streiff.

According to Newsweek Toulouse ranked as the third most dynamic city in the world in 2006.

Colleges and universities

Toulouse has the third-largest student population in France after Paris and Lyon.

The University of Toulouse (Université de Toulouse), established in 1229, is located here (now split into three separate universities). Like the universities in Oxford and Paris, the University of Toulouse was established at a time when Europeans were starting to translate the writings of Greek philosophers. These writings challenged European ideology - inspiring scientific discoveries and advances in the arts - as society began seeing itself in a new way. These colleges were supported by the Church in hopes to reconcile Greek Philosophy and Christian Theology. Today, Toulouse is the third largest university campus of France after Paris and Lyon, with more than 97,000 students attending its three universities (Université Toulouse I, Université de Toulouse - Le Mirail (Toulouse II), Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse III)) and its engineering schools (ICAM Toulouse, INSA Toulouse, SUPAERO, ENSICA, ENAC, ENSEEIHT, ENSIACET, EPITECH, IPSA, INPT).

Toulouse also hosts the Industrial Economics Institute (Institut D'Economie Industrielle, IDEI) that is become one of the best European research centres in economics as well as its associated graduate school (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics) that recruits the ablest students from all countries in the European Union and further afield, as well as the Toulouse Business School (ESCT), one of France's leading integrated management schools.

The most well known high schools in Toulouse are Lycée Pierre de Fermat and Lycée Saint-Sernin.

Transport

In addition to an extensive bus system, the Toulouse Metro system is a VAL (Véhicule Automatique Léger) metro system made up of driverless (automatic) rubber-tired trains. Line A runs for 12.5km from Balma-Gramont to Basso Cambo. Line B, which opened in June 2007, adds 20 stations and intersects line A at Jean Jaurès. Line E (tramway) is going to be finished in 2009, and will roll from Beauzelle to Toulouse passing through Blagnac. Line C has existed since line A was completed. It is not VAL but a classical railway line with SNCF trains; it connects to line A at Arènes. Another oft-used commuter train line (D) runs to the city of Muret.

Airports include:

Railway stations include:

Communications

Toulouse is home to Bonhoure Radio Tower, a 61-metre high lattice tower used for FM and TV transmission.

Culture

Toulouse, known as the Ville Rose ("Pink City") for its distinctive brick architecture , is host to a rich and diverse culture. It has a thriving scene of unusually beautiful graffiti, with the painter Miss Van at its forefront.

Toulouse was the home of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), most famous for his book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince). There is a permanent gallery with numerous photos, and some of his works, located in the Hotel du Grand Balcon - just off the Place du Capitole - where he stayed. (The Bohemian painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec lived in Paris and was born in nearby Albi).

It is the seat of the Académie des Jeux Floraux, the equivalent of the French Academy for the Occitan-speaking regions of southern France, making Toulouse the unofficial capital of Occitan culture. The traditional Occitan cross was adopted as the symbol of both the City of Toulouse and the newly-founded Midi-Pyrénées région.

The city's gastronomic specialties include Saucisses de Toulouse, a type of herb sausage, cassoulet Toulousain, a bean and pork stew, and garbure, a cabbage soup with poultry. Also, foie gras, the liver of an overfed duck or goose, is a delicacy mainly made in the Midi-Pyrénées.

Sport

In sports, it boasts a highly respected rugby union team, Stade Toulousain, which has been a four-time finalist, three-time winner in Europe's top club competition in the sport, the Heineken Cup and 17 times French champions. Toulouse is considered a centre for rugby union, and the city hosted games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The city also has a football (soccer) team in Toulouse FC and a rugby league team, Toulouse Olympique, who has won the French championship on four occasions. The city also hosted games during the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and the EuroBasket 1999.

Notable births and deaths in Toulouse

See also

Notes

References

External links

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