Navigating Toulouse: The Impossible Accomplished

Navigating Toulouse: The Impossible Accomplished

A few days ago I posted about learning how to navigate Toulouse. The first thing to say is…I’m pretty sure I’ve never navigated anything successfully before in my life. I’m 21, I’ve lived in the same city my whole life and it’s only within the last 2 months I’ve started recognizing that certain main highways are circles around Cincinnati, while others go through the circle, etc. I still get lost 3 out of every 5 times I travel home.

Last summer, I was able to avoid getting lost after my first day of walking home from the marche. I could navigate by land marks pretty well. Pau was small enough that any landmark stood out. So, needless to say I was a bit concerned about getting lost in Toulouse. Toulouse is much bigger and therefore, in my mind, is more dangerous. (That being said my host-mom assured me today that I could walk home at 12am and not have a problem. “C’est quartier- pas dangereux!”…the shorten version after I didn’t comprehend the extended one.) However, after our Tour of Toulouse with Eric on the 26th, I feel better able to navigate this city than Cincinnati. (The grid-like pattern of American cities is supposed to be easier, but after our history lesson – see below -I understand why I don’t understand squares, or at least I’m questioning their validity.)

The History of Toulouse, regarding streets

…coming soon (I haven’t finished writing it out)…

Four Main Access Roads

There are four main access roads in Toulouse (centre-ville). All of them run North-South. I don’t know all of their names, because I couldn’t see on Eric’s map and when I walk them, I’m not able to identify them as “major” roads.


Two roads in Toulouse are easily identified as main roads for Americans because they are wide, with multiple lanes, and straight (easily comparable to American roads). These roads are rue d’Alsace-Lorraine and rue de Metz. Alsace-Lorraine is a major access road, it runs North-South. rue de Metz is a major road that crosses La Garonne river, thus it runs West-East. These two roads intersect each other. So, you get on one of these and follow the guidelines below and you’ll find your way.

Important Things to write down in a small notebook and always have on you

Street plaques: Aren’t just pretty, they have meaning.

  • yellow plagues: indicate that the street is parallel to the river (La Garonne), thus they run North-South
  • white plaques: indicate that the street is perpendicular to La Garonne, thus they run West-East

How do you know if you are heading North/South or West/East on any given road? The French have that covered too:

  • on “yellow” streets, the building numbers, when they go up you are heading North ; thus, when they go down, you are heading South
  • on “white” streets, when the building numbers go up, you are heading West; descending numbers means West


coming soon! a PDF of a simplified map of Toulouse, which emphasizes the main roads and landmarks.


One response »

  1. If it makes you feel any better, Cincinnati, because of the river and how the grew away from it, is not laid out in a grid, and so is very hard to navigate! Think about Montgomery Road….it probably changes directions half a dozen times from beginning to end. So it’s not just you!

    Enjoy France Cerah! I’ll be reading along and looking forward to your posts. ~Aunt Julie

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