Located in southwestern France, Toulouse sits on the banks of the River Garonne between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has been pegged the ‘Pink City’ (La Ville Rose) thanks to its magnificent pseudo-Roman style architecture that dates back to ancient Roman times. Today, it is a dynamic city that has become the centre of the European aviation and spacecraft industry.
In a city of this size, it can often be hard to find some peace and quiet between the backstreets, modern skyscrapers and historic buildings. Especially considering over 450,000 people live here. But there are a few places in and around Toulouse where you can escape the masses and find your zen.
Visiting the Canal du Midi is a sure way to total serenity. It is a long canal that stretches through the landscape from Toulouse all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The vegetation surrounding the canal is quiet spectacular and attracts numerous animals. Walk along the canal and enjoy the stunning scenery, or jump aboard a boat and go for a memorable cruise.
Les Bateaux Toulousans offers cruises along the charming Canal du Midi that last anywhere from 75 minutes to five hours. Their boats cruise through the city, passing by some impressive architecture along the way. It truly is a unique way to see Toulouse and to completely find your zen.
Jardin Compans Caparelli is enchanting enough on its own, but its Japanese Garden is even more so. The Asian-inspired garden sits in the northwest corner of Jardin Compans Caparelli in a spot that is completely secluded from the rest of the world. It is a tranquil place where you can really find your zen.
The garden was inspired by 15th-century gardens in Kyoto, complete with rock gardens, koi ponds, bonsai trees and bamboo groves. It is an escape within an escape, and a beautiful place to surround yourself if you want to be in total bliss. If you are lucky enough to be staying at the Novotel Toulouse Centre Compans Caffarelli Hotel, you can request a room that boasts views right over the garden.
For the complete zen experience, get out of the city and drive north to Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val and the lovely La Roane. This is truly a haven for relaxation, rejuvenation and delight, complete with magical surroundings. The retreat sits on 20 acres of woodlands where you will hear birds chirping, frogs singing and bees buzzing.
La Roane takes only 18 guests at a time, with accommodations being in three buildings that are set around a large pool and surrounded by gardens. Your day will start with meditation and chi kung, followed by a healthy vegetarian breakfast. You will also be doing yoga twice per day and have free time in between to enjoy the environment. The day ends with an incredible three course meal that is served with wine, because you can’t possibly be in France without drinking fantastic local wine.