A Running Tour of the Pink City

I knew that I needed to keep on running while on vacation. Ahead of time I had drawn a few courses on Mapmyrun. While I’m familiar with Toulouse I was less with Barcelona, not to mention that I wanted an idea of my mileage.
Thankfully for me it wasn’t my husband’s first time in Toulouse so I was able to skip the tours and enjoy running around the main site instead which to me was really fun. Toulouse’s nickname is  the Pink City (“La Ville Rose”) because of its brick walls and clay tile roofs.

I knew I wanted a run that would include a lot of historic sites and be scenic. I wanted to soak in the city that heard my first cry.
Well my Mamie (Grandmother) happens to leave close to the Roman Arena of Ancely (well what’s left of it). As a child my Dad and my Aunt would go play in it all the time, it had not been “recovered” yet. So that’s where I started.

Source: Jean-François Peiré

Then I followed the Avenue de Casselardit that goes by Purpan Hospital and turned on a small street that I knew would bring me to the Garonne River levees. The only weird part is that there is always a homeless person living under that bridge, however I have never had any issues with it. I had one good mile overlooking the river and seeing downtown get closer and closer. I arrived to the Bazacles, a former ford which is now a type of dam used for a hydroelectric power station. On the west bank is the Parc Raymond IV where I was. The park is borded by the Garonne River, the Roman Wall and the Abatoirs modern art museum. At Place St Cyprien, I took a turn to hop on the Pont St Pierre which also happens to go right by the Dome de La Grave, a XIXth century chapel.The best thing from the Pont St Pierre is the view over an other bridge: the Pont Neuf which I would run on a few miles later.

Pont St Pierre et Dome de la Grave

I kept on going straight to reach the Romanesque Basilica of St Sernin. An 11th and 12th century church on the path to Santiago de Compostella. Every Thursday there is a great Flea Market around it. I ran the course twice during our visit, the first time I just ran by the basilica, the second time all around it, which was even better. I love how the bell tower stands out. You can also begin to understand why it’s called the Pink City.

Basilique St Sernin

From there all I had to do was follow the Rue du Taur to the heart of Downtown which is the Capitole. The building dates from the 16th to 18th century with a neoclassical facade. Not only do I love the town hall, but it overlooks the Place du Capitole, a very large plaza where one can find the Croix Occitane, the Occitan cross in the middle. Now this time the cross was not very visible due to the ongoing Christmas Market, but I knew it was there and that was enough.


I went behind the Capitole and followed the newly pedestrian only street of Alsace-Lorraine. It’s a wide avenue boarded by many of my favorite shops. Had I not been running I would have had to stop and look at the current French fashion. But we ended up going back later with Hubby. One thing the picture below does not show is that there was some ongoing work being done on the street. So it wasn’t all smooth pavers, but since it was early I also did not have to fight the crowds.

Avenue Alsace-Lorraine

Alsace-Lorraine links the current downtown to the roman heart of the city. The place Esquirol is where the Romans had the Forum and where the two main roads would cross. Today it’s a busy area mainly used to hop on the bus or the metro. But I wasn’t taking any shortcuts. I turned on the rue de Metz and went straight back toward the Garonne for an other highlight of my run: going over the Pont Neuf. While neuf in French means new, this bridge is nothing like it. In fact it is the oldest one in Toulouse! Back in the days people did not give fancy names to bridges, there would just be the new bridge and the old bridge, so it kept its name.

Pont Neuf

Le Pont Neuf took me back to St Cyprien neighborhood and I ran again along the Garonne river back to my Mamie’s house. Truth is I did this run two different ways, but I like this one the best. Not to mention that the second time I ran it, my husband came with me.

I ran it at an 8:42 pace on my own and 9:17 pace with my husband by my side. If you ever go to Toulouse I highly recommend it.