One could be forgiven for not wanting to leave Château de la Durantie, beautifully tucked away in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Tarn countryside; a rustic gem in the undulating hills of South West France. Located amidst the famed ‘Golden Triangle’ – the elegant trio of culture-rich Albi, wine-soaked Gaillac and the former bastide fortress Corde-sur-Ciel – it is easy to understand why the area warrants plenty of foreign investment.
Yet it’s not all crumbling farmhouses, sleepy villages and sun-baked vines that are attracting foreign interest. Head South West and within the hour one can find oneself in the beautiful city of Toulouse, Europe’s fastest growing city, and France’s fourth largest overall. As pioneers of industry (Toulouse is a leading player in both the aeronautics and space industries), the city has grown more than 20% in the last decade. The former home of Concorde, and now housing Airbus’s headquarters, Toulouse remains the centre of the European aerospace industry.
However, if technology is the brains of the city, culture is very much the heart. Known as La Ville Rose (The Pink City) thanks to the reddish coloured bricks which were used to build many of the city’s buildings, Toulouse basks in its own glowing light. Boasting a world renowned university and a vibrant student population pushing 100,000, only Paris and Lille can lay claim to more resident academics. More famous than its aeroplanes are the city’s two sporting teams; Stade Toulousain, the power house of French rugby which has dominated the European scene in recent years, and the resurgent Toulouse FC, the Ligue 1 football side who are considered to be amongst the country’s top three or four teams, and who are keen to secure Champions League football for 2013.
For the real culture vultures, the magnificent Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, a blend of Gothic-Mediterranean architecture is open for daily services, whilst the The Musée des Augustins (circa 14th Century) houses one the most impressive collections of Romanesque sculptures in the world. Food lovers can rejoice in a leading hub of gastronomy, whilst France’s ubiquitous café scene is evident on the corner of every boulevard and cobbled square that you happen to wander down.
Throw into the mix the city’s fantastic transport links – Toulouse Blagnac Airport has daily low cost flights to all popular destinations, there’s an exceptional train service extending all over Western Europe, and plans for France’s revered TGV network to connect the city with Paris – and it’s no surprise to see how the ‘Toulouse Effect’ has taken hold.
Undoubtedly the city’s attraction is excellent news for residents at Château de la Durantie, not least for their own pleasure, but for the reassuring knowledge that this dynamic city and its hinterland is becoming a property hot spot and now has to be a good time to inveast.
No longer a rough diamond waiting to be found, Toulouse is a city well and truly cut to precision. Just make sure you don’t miss its beautiful pink hue as the sun goes down.