Media office of the French World Cup Organising Committee.

Ten cities - ten stadiums: we take a look at the cities and their stadiums that will be the venues for the World Cup France 98. Here is Toulouse, the home of Just Fontaine, top scorer at the World Cup in 1958 with 13 goals.

Riverside idyll and high-tech: The Pont Neuf, a symbol of Toulouse.

The fourth largest city in France, Toulouse is home to 365,000 people in the city itself (and over 650,000 in the urban agglomeration) as well as being the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region, which comprises the department of Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Lot, Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarn, Aveyron and Tarn-et-Garonne). It is a cultural, university and industrial centre all at the same time.

Situated in the southwest of France, some 250 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean, 150 kilometers from the Mediterranean and 110 kilometers from the Pyrénées mountain range, Toulouse can look back on twenty-four centuries of rich and varied history. The town had links to the Roman Empire as early as the second century B.C. and became the centre of the Visigoth empire in the 5th century A.D. Later the events of the Cathar epoque had a profound impact on the town's history, and Toulouse rebelled against the royal authority.

Toulouse's favourite son: Just Fontaine, scorer of a record 13 World Cup goals in 1958.

      Not being rich in natural resources, Toulouse was little affected by the industrial revolution in the 19th century, and had to wait until the second half of the 20th before its industry began to take off, almost literally, since its strength is in aeronautics and space technology. Since the time of the early days of air mail in the 1930s, the city has developed steadily and spectacularly, the more so because it was spared the ravages of the two world wars. Its architectural heritage has remained largely intact; the red brick buildings, carefully restored, give the town a unique colour and ambience, leading to its being called "La Ville Rose".

The student city

      But its main claim to fame is definitely its forward-looking industry. The city today is one of the major centres of French technology, the capital of the European aerospace industry, the second most important aviation centre in the world - birth place of such prestigious projects as the Caravelle, the Concorde, the Airbus and the Ariane rocket. Industry is also highly developed in the surrounding area, in high-tech sectors such as information technology, electronics, chemistry, biology and agronomy. Thanks to the development of all these advanced industries, Toulouse showed the fastest growth of any French town during the 80s and now ranks incontestably among the European majors. Its position is enhanced by its status as an intellectual centre - second only to Paris as a university town with an incredible 85,000 students - nearly a quarter of its population.


Constructed in the 1930s, the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse is located on an island between the two arms of the Garonne, close to the centre of town and therefore very accessible. Its current capacity of 33,000 will be increased to 37,500, all seating, following a renovation scheme that will start in June 1996 and which should be finished during the last quarter of 1997, about six months before the 16th World Cup begins.

      Directed by a team of architects, Messrs. Ferret, Gardette and Huet, the work to be carried out falls into twelve categories:

  • demolition of the existing roof
  • removal of the existing boxes
  • building a balcony on the north stand
  • increasing the number of places for the handicapped
  • building a north block which will contain the main changing rooms, the media area, reception rooms, the club headquarters and the security command post
  • improving the changing rooms beneath the south stand
  • bringing the security facilities up to date
  • new lighting
  • installing a video surveillance system
  • installing a new sound system.

      With four campuses, sixteen institutes and three hundred affiliated laboratories, the University of Toulouse is among the best in Europe in terms of research and teaching material. With 10,000 people involved in research, "La Ville Rose" is of international standing in this respect too. But that is nothing new - the university tradition goes back a long way, to 1229 in fact, making the University of Toulouse one of the oldest in Europe.

      Its artistic inheritance is no less rich. Among its most famous monuments are the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the largest Romanesque church in the world, the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne and the Eglise des Jacobins; there are also important museums, such as the Musee des Augustins, which houses the world's finest collection of Romanesque art or the Natural History Museum. On the cultural side there is the Capitole National Orchestra, one of the finest in Europe, plus lyric art, theatre and dance...

Football, rugby and fine food

      Toulouse is a city abounding with works of art. It is also very welcoming to visitors, with more than 200 hotels and over 8,800 beds. The sporting side is not neglected either; rugby and football, both very popular in the region, exist side by side in complete harmony. And then its gastronomy: the Toulouse area has a strong reputation in this respect too, which is saying a lot in a country that pays a lot of attention to its food.

      An hour's plane trip from Paris will land you at Toulouse-Blagnac, just a few kilometres from the city centre. There are also the high speed train connections and access to a highly developed road and motorway network.

For more information on the local Toulouse football club, visit the official site of the French Football League

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