Toulouse or Biarritz – which of these stunning French cities will make the grade? Will it be the riverside, sun-kissed city of Toulouse? With its beautiful architecture and amazing food? Or will the Basque city of Biarritz draw you in the most? With its beautiful coastline, surfing and Basque cuisine? In this blog, we’ll go over the pros and cons, average prices and must-visit attractions to help you decide.
Toulouse is a charming city in southwestern France that is often overlooked by tourists. We’re not too sure why, to be honest! It’s a beautiful city that is bisected by the Garonne River. Filled with amazing restaurants to try, and interesting architecture. It is also located close to a lot of other interesting places.
Located in the Basque region of France, Biarritz is a small coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and the world-class surfing. It’s no wonder Biarritz is a popular destination for surfers, sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Biarritz
- Vibrant city life: Toulouse offers a bustling urban atmosphere with a mix of culture, shopping, and nightlife.
- Rich history: Toulouse is known for its historic architecture, including the Saint-Sernin Basilica and the Capitolium.
- Aeronautics and space industry: Home to the Airbus headquarters and the Cité de l’Espace, Toulouse is an excellent destination for aviation and space enthusiasts.
- Accessible location: Toulouse’s central position in southern France makes it an ideal base for exploring the region.
- Diverse culinary scene: Enjoy the local Toulousain cuisine as well as a wide variety of international food options.
- Underrated destination: Toulouse is not as crowded as other major tourist destinations in France, providing a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Canal du Midi: This UNESCO World Heritage site offers picturesque walks and boat tours.
- Art and culture: Toulouse boasts numerous museums, galleries, and theatres for art and culture lovers.
- Hot summers: Toulouse can get really hot in summer, plus with no sea breeze it is more stuffy and humid than Biarritz
- No beaches: Toulouse doesn’t have any beaches nearby so won’t be suitable for those looking to surf or spend time on the coast.
- Not as many options for day trips: Compared to Biarritz, Toulouse doesn’t have as many popular destinations close by, like San Sebastian or Bayonne.
- Stunning beaches: Biarritz is famous for its beautiful beaches, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
- Elegant atmosphere: Biarritz has a sophisticated, upscale vibe, with its luxurious architecture and stylish boutiques.
- Surf culture: Known as the surf capital of Europe, Biarritz offers excellent surf spots for both beginners and experienced surfers.
- Relaxed pace: The laid-back atmosphere of Biarritz makes it an ideal destination for a relaxing getaway.
- Proximity to the Basque Country: Biarritz’s location offers a chance to explore the unique culture, food, and traditions of the Basque Country.
- Picturesque coastal walks: Enjoy scenic walks along the coast with stunning views of the ocean and cliffs.
- Seafood cuisine: Savor delicious local seafood dishes in the numerous restaurants in Biarritz.
- Access to the Pyrenees: Biarritz’s proximity to the Pyrenees allows for easy access to mountain activities like hiking and skiing.
- Expensive: Biarritz is known for its high prices, especially during the peak summer season.
- Fewer attractions: Compared to Toulouse, Biarritz has fewer museums and cultural sites.
- Smaller city: Biarritz is a smaller city with fewer amenities and a less diverse culinary scene than Toulouse.
- Seasonal destination: Biarritz is primarily a summer destination, and some businesses and attractions may close during the offseason.
How long to stay in Toulouse
Toulouse may not be a big city, but there’s plenty to see and do. You could cover most of the city in a day, but you’d miss out on the best parts. Toulouse is a city best enjoyed at a slow pace. Take your time to explore and discover all that it has to offer.
Toulouse is Frances’s fifth biggest city, so there is a lot to see and do. We feel like most people would happily spend two to three days here and not get bored. If you really wanted an interesting holiday though, you could use Toulouse as a base to explore the region. There are plenty of amazing towns and cities nearby like Albi or Carcassonne, you could even hire a car and drive to Andorra!
There are plenty of museums and galleries like the Muséum de Toulouse, Georges Bemberg’s Foundation — Hotel of Assézat and even a scientific discovery centre that focuses on spaceflight called the Cité de l’Espace.
How long to stay in Biarritz
Biarritz is a relatively small town and can easily be seen in two to three days. However, there are plenty of other cities in the Basque country that are definitely worth a day trip to like Bayonne which is a short bus ride away. You could even head into Spain to visit San Sebastian or Bilbao.
How much is food and drink in Toulouse?
Toulouse is home to a diverse culinary scene, and you can find everything from traditional French cuisine to international dishes. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Toulouse:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Toulouse will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: As Toulouse is located in the heart of the Occitanie wine region, wine is readily available and is often a better value than beer or cocktails. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Toulouse will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Toulouse will likely cost between €15 and €30 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Biarritz?
Biarritz is home to a variety of restaurants and cafes catering to all budgets. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Biarritz:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Biarritz will likely cost between €4 and €7.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €4 to €10, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Biarritz will likely cost between €2 and €4.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Biarritz will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Toulouse?
The cost of accommodation in Toulouse can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Toulouse:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Toulouse can cost anywhere from €150 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Toulouse will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Toulouse will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Toulouse will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Biarritz?
The cost of accommodation in Biarritz can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Biarritz:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Biarritz can cost anywhere from €200 to €600 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Biarritz will likely cost between €80 and €200 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Biarritz will likely cost between €50 and €80 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Biarritz will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Toulouse?
Toulouse has mild weather year-round, making it a great destination to visit at any time of the year. Here are some things to consider:
Weather: The weather in Toulouse is relatively mild throughout the year. Summers can get hot. Winters can be wet and mild. We recommend visiting in Spring or Autumn when the weather is mild and there aren’t too many tourists.
Festivals: Toulouse hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Like the Festival de Rio Loco (one for music lovers) and the Violet Festival which celebrates the city’s emblematic flower.
Crowds: Like most places, the summer months can get pretty hectic, so avoid July and August if you can. You’ll find a much more relaxed vibe in the off-season.
When is the best time to visit Biarritz?
Biarritz is a popular destination all year round. But, the best time to visit all comes down to personal preference really. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip to Biarritz:
Weather: Biarritz has a mild oceanic climate, winters are cool and summers are warm. There’s usually a sea breeze so even in summer it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater. September and October are good months to visit, the temperatures are mild and the summer crowds have gone home.
Festivals: Biarritz hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The Wheels and Waves Festival is worth a visit and brings together bikers, surfers and skateboarders for four days of fun!
Crowds: Biarritz gets very busy during the summer months as it’s a popular holiday destination for the French. To avoid the crowds visit during spring or autumn.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Toulouse are:
The average monthly temperatures for Biarritz are:
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’s are readily available.
Getting around Biarritz:
Biarritz is a small town so you can get around easily on foot. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, it might be a good idea to hire a car. There are also buses and trains that run between Biarritz and the nearby towns and cities.
Top things to do in Toulouse
Visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin: One of the most visited landmarks in Toulouse. This was once part of the Abbey of Saint-Sernin, but unfortunately, only the church remains. Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of this amazing building.
Explore the historic city centre: Wander around the city, take in cultural sights, admire the architecture and eat some good food. Is there a better way to experience a city?
See the Canal du Midi: Considering it is 240 kilometres long, you won’t be able to see it all. But, you could go for a nice walk along its relaxing banks or even hire a bike!
Visit the Musée des Augustins: Housed in a former Augustinian convent this museum possesses an impressive collection of European art from the middle ages to the early 20th century.
See the Cité de l’Espace: Toulouse might not be the first place you think of when you think of space. But, this space museum is well worth a visit. The planetarium presents shows throughout the day, there are plenty of exhibits to keep you busy too.
Take a food tour: Food tours are always a great way to experience a city’s cuisine and learn about its history. You’ll often get to visit restaurants most tourists won’t know about. You’ll get to try cassoulet, a hearty bean stew, and other delicious dishes.
Check out the Musée Saint-Raymond: Opened in 1892 this archaeological museum went through various transformations before becoming a museum. It was even a prison at one point! It features exhibits from prehistory to the middle ages, history buffs don’t miss out.
Visit the Jardin des Plantes: Not to be confused with the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. This botanical garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax.
See the Capitole de Toulouse: This iconic building located in the heart of the city is home to the offices of the local government. Free to enter, it’s full of artwork and impressive interiors.
Take a day trip to Carcassonne: Located about an hour’s drive away from Toulouse. This medieval fortified city will take your breath away. Even if you’re not interested in history it’s very impressive and well worth a visit.
Top things to do in Biarritz
Visit La Grande Plage: This beautiful sandy beach is a must-visit when visiting Biarritz. Swimmers, surfers and sunbathers all love this beach and for good reason! There are showers to use and lifeguards so you can swim safely.
Go to the Aquarium de Biarritz: Built into the side of a hill, this aquarium features a wide range of marine creatures from the Bay of Biscay and beyond. It’s a great afternoon of entertainment for adults and kids alike.
Explore the Rocher de la Vierge: The rock formation is connected to the mainland by a footbridge. It offers amazing views of the ocean and coastline and also has a statue of the Virgin Mary. Try to visit at sunset for a spectacular view.
Musée Asiatica: This museum features an extensive collection of Asian art from China, Nepal, Tebet and the rest of the Asian subcontinent. It’s crazy to find such a collection in a small beachside resort in France. It €10 to enter and is definitely worth spending a couple of hours there.
Take a stroll around the Port des Pêcheurs: The little fishing port is nice for a relaxing afternoon watching the fishermen unload their catch and listening to the sound of the sea. There are little restaurants so you can grab a bit to eat while you unwind.
Walk along the La Côte des Basques: This scenic coastal path runs along the cliff tops between Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. It’s a relatively easy route and offers plenty of good spots to get amazing photos of the sea and the coastline.
Enjoy some local produce at Les Halles de Biarritz: This covered market is a food lover’s paradise. It is packed with stalls selling fresh local produce, such as cheese, seafood, and charcuterie. It’s the perfect place to snack on local food whilst taking in the ambience.
Visit the Église Orthodoxe: This Russian Orthodox church is located on a hill overlooking Biarritz. The building itself is beautiful but could do with a renovation.
Play golf at Le Phare Golf Course: Located right in the heart of Biarritz, this stunning golf course offers spectacular views of the ocean. It’s actually one of the oldest courses in France and has hosted plenty of prestigious tournaments.
Relax at Les Bains de Biarritz: This luxurious spa is located on the beachfront and offers a range of treatments and facilities, including a heated seawater pool, sauna, and hammam. It is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.
Take a day trip to Bayonne: This charming town is known for its picturesque streets and delicious Basque food and is only a 30-minute bus ride away.
How to spend three days in Toulouse
Morning: Start your day at the Place du Capitole, a stunning square in the heart of Toulouse. Try and get there early so you can enjoy a coffee overlooking the square whilst the city wakes up. Have a wander into the Capotiole building to see the artwork and lavish rooms.
Afternoon: Visit the Musée des Augustins to learn more about the history and art of the region. The museum has a brilliant collection of sculptures and paintings.
Evening: Enjoy a leisurely dinner in the Saint-Cyprien district, once one of Toulouse’s roughest areas. It’s now one of the coolest parts of the city. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you busy for the evening.
Morning: Get the train to Carcassonne, an amazing fortified medieval city about an hour away by train. It almost looks like something out of a Disney film. Walk around the castle and visit the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire. Opt for a guided tour to fully immerse in the city’s history.
Afternoon: Get the train back to Toulouse and spend a relaxing afternoon seeing the Canal du Midi. Either walk along the banks or hire a bank if you want to see more of it.
Evening: Go and find a nice French restaurant and try some of the local cuisines such as cassoulet or saucisse de Toulouse. Once you’re suitably full go and explore the Carmes neighbourhood. It’s the perfect place to wander around aimlessly stopping off for drinks and exploring the little side streets.
Morning: Start the day with a visit to the Cité de l’Espace, a space museum not too far from the city centre. An interesting place for adults and kids alike.
Afternoon: After lunch let your food settle with a relaxing afternoon in the Jardin des Plantes, one of Toulouse’s most beautiful parks.
Evening: Go and see a performance at the Théâtre du Capitole, one of France’s most prestigious opera houses. Or if opera isn’t your thing, go and see some live music at La Dynamo, a small club that hosts a variety of different live performers.
How to spend three days in Biarritz
Morning: Start your day with a walk along Grande Plage and take in the views of the ocean. Maybe go for a morning swim if the weather is nice.
Afternoon: Head to Biarritz Aquarium to the marine life of the Bay of Biscay. This aquarium has over 150 different species of fish and 7 species of shark. If you get there at 10:30 or 17:00 you can see them feeding the seals, very cute!
Evening: Enjoy a drink and some pintxos at one of the many bars in the Old Port area. It’s a great place to relax and watch the sunset.
Morning: Biarritz is one of Europe’s most famous surf destinations so why not give it a go? There are plenty of surf schools along the coast that cater to all levels, so there are really no excuses!
Afternoon: After lunch and drying off! Go for a walk along the Rocher de la Vierge. A rock formation that sits in the sea, connected to the land by a bridge. This is a great spot for photos of the ocean and the Biarritz coastline.
Evening: Wander down to the Port des Pêcheurs, this charming fishing port is filled with seafood restaurants. It’s a perfect place to spend the evening eating and drinking whilst looking out over the harbour.
Morning: Get an early start and visit Les Halles de Biarritz. This market offers a great range of local produce, from cheeses to meats there’s plenty to choose from. You could grab a coffee and nibble on some bits from the market.
Afternoon: Catch the bus to Bayonne. Located just 30 minutes from Biarritz, the charming town of Bayonne is a beautiful little city. Known for its picturesque streets and Basque cuisine it’s a great day out. Make sure to try some of the famous Bayonne ham!
Evening: Get dinner in Bayonne’s old town before heading back to Biarritz for a few drinks overlooking the ocean.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 6
Total score: 59