El artículo de hoy corre a cargo de Yann Delaprez, que vino a pasar unos meses a Madrid de estancia al mismo centro de investigación en que trabajaba yo hasta el mes pasado. Fue todo un placer compartir con él los meses que estuvo por Madrid tanto por su brillantez como su trato afable comiendo siempre un bocadillo de chorizo frito en los descansos.

A pesar de que se maneja en castellano mejor de lo que piensa, no se ha atrevido a escribir el artículo en la lengua de Cervantes y se ha decantado por la de Shakespeare. A ver que os parece, pero os aseguro que está escrito con todo el cariño del mundo porque he conocido poca gente tan enamorada de su ciudad, algo que se aprecia desde el primer párrafo.


I met Samir while visiting his engineering department in Madrid. I have to say that during these two months we almost didn’t spend one day without debating about the strength of our own cities. The french pride is worldwide recognized but I guarantee that Spanish pride is not far from. I let you imagine the kind of debate we had. However I will do my best to be objective albeit it remains difficult. This article will thus radiate around the transportation system of the best city of France: Toulouse.

Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Pyrenees

Toulouse is located between the Mediterranean Sea (144km, Gruissan), the Atlantic Ocean (233km, Capbreton) and the Pyrenees (122km, Pic d’Aneto). Its population of 453.317 inhabitants (According to the 2012 population census from INSEE) ranks it as the fourth populated city of France.

However Toulouse is the most attractive city of France by the number of migrants, thereby 36,465 new individuals arrived in 2013 (Source: France-Magazine). The economic dynamism of the region and its moderate climate both contribute to its attractiveness but create new challenges for the city planners: congestion, urban sprawling, etc. The road congestion level being of 24% (Source: TomTom Trac index), it gives us a good pretext to shed light on the other ways of transport, less congested, provided by the city.

Metro, City center, Pink city

The metro network is made of 2 lines drawing a cross over the city map. The line A roughly links the west of the city to the east, while the line B links the north of the city to the south. Subways in Toulouse rely on the VAL technology, basically they are all automatic and do not require driver. One common point with the Madrid subway is the impossibility for the traveller to reach unintentionally the third rail. While Madrid has a famous patented overhead third rail, in Toulouse a window prevent the traveller to reach the rails.

Metro control center. Source: Paul Muselet

Metro control center. Source: Paul Muselet

However you can survive in the city center just walking. As my audience is mainly Spanish I suggest you to wandering around by yourself and visit the following:

– The basilica of Saint-Sernin belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was constructed between 1080 and 1120. The most remarkable is the crypt which has impressive relics of saint in.

Saint Sernin

Basilica of Saint Sernin (this pic is not from Yann, is of my trip to Toulouse in 2013)

– The convent of the Jacobin is a Dominican convent constructed in 1229. One part of the convent is dedicated to temporary exhibitions. I particularly like this place because it was a place of knowledge and you can still feel it when you look how it is organized.

– After if you are hungry you can go to «Le tranchoir» which is a restaurant serving typical french medieval food.

– Or go to the more trendy «Flower’s cafe» and enjoy at the same time the place Roger Salengro which constitutes a good sample of the architecture of Toulouse and justifies its nickname: «pink city». 

One alternative could be to do it by bike through the «VélÔToulouse» which are equivalent to «BiciMAD» without being electric.

VélÔToulouse station (other pic of my trip to Toulouse in 2013)

Train: foie gras and ski*

Take the train is one other way of transport available, however the pink city is badly connected to the other cities of France and Spain, thereby no highspeed train infrastructures exists between Toulouse and its nearby town.

Train main station

Train main station (from my trip to Toulouse in 2013)

But the suburban network works well and allows you to reach the main communes of the suburb, namely Colomiers and Muret. The line C and its continuation leads toward the Gers department, which is one of the main productor of «foie gras».

Foie gras. Fuente: www.soho-solo-gers.com

Foie gras. Fuente: www.soho-solo-gers.com

As above mentioned, one of the main strengh of Toulouse is its geographical location, the tarif «skyrail» is the perfect way to take advantage of the proximity from Pyrenees. Skyrail is a two-rounds ticket, with destination ski resorts, valid one day and including 50% discount on the train ticket price, and up to 50% discount on ski pass. It allows thus to enjoy a day of ski at low price while reducing pollution externalities.

Bus, Stade Toulousain, Toulouse Football Club

Toulouse is also a traditional place for the rugby and has one of the best club in Europe: the Stade Toulousain. Tisseo organizes free bus shuttle to reach the Stadium when there is a game. The same service takes place for soccer games through the Toulouse Football Club. Both shuttle services basically go from one metro station to their respective stadiums.

Tramway, Jardins des plantes

The tramway is usually one of the first public transport visitors will meet when arriving in Toulouse as the line T2 links the city center to the airport. The other line is the T1 which goes from the North suburb of Toulouse to the terminus «Palais de Justice». From there you have the Museum of natural history which is free every first sunday of the month. Nearby, the «Jardins des plantes» is the perfect park to rest you up around gorgeous fountains. The quietness in the middle of the city furnished by the «Jardins des plantes» gives it a «Retiro» touch.

jardins des plants

Jardins des plantes. Fuente: toulouse-tourisme.com

Aerospace industry, Economics, Nobel prize

Last, the city is traditionally related to one particular way of transport: the plane. The 9 October 1890 in Toulouse, the legend says that Clement Ader was the first to make fly a motorized machine heavier than the air. Next, during the war in 1917 Toulouse is chosen to build planes for the army. It is the beginning of a long tradition of the aeronautics industry in the city. Nowadays Airbus Toulouse is the first industrial site of France with 13217 employees. The head office of Airbus Europe is in Blagnac, in the suburb of Toulouse which gives it an international dimension.

Indeed, Toulouse is also known for his world-renowned centre of research in Economics.

Adam Smith spent few months in Toulouse during a travel in France between 1764 and 1766.

This random event introduces perfectly the important ties existing between economics and the city.

Later in the 1980s, the economist Jean Jacques Laffont decided to create an outstanding department in his own city based on the best worldwide practices and generating a reverse braindrain process.

The idea is straighforward, attract the best researchers in France.

The project has given birth to the Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) and it is a success confirmed by the Nobel Prize of Economics 2014 won by Jean Tirole chairman of TSE.


* A esto hay que añadirle que también es zona de buenos quesos:

El transporte en Toulouse

Quesos franceses. Primera foto que nos mandó Yann por Whatsapp según llegó a Toulouse. Roquefort, Cantal, Chevre y Beaufort.

Echo en falta otros dos detalles que Yann no ha comentado, así que los añado yo:

– Por un lado, que tienen un edificio llamado Maison du Vélo, dedicado por entero a la bici (restaurante incluido):

Maison du velo

Maison du Vélo

– Y, por otro, que por la ciudad pasa el Canal de Midi, que une la ciudad con Sète, a orillas del Mediterráneo:

El Canal de Midi, a su paso por Toulouse

El Canal de Midi, a su paso por Toulouse


Quién mejor para hablarnos de Toulouse que alguien de su ciudad como Yann Delaprez. Es economista y acaba de finalizar el primer curso de máster (en economía, pero con mucha econometría, de la cual es un apasionado). Además, es investigador en Toulouse School of Economics y este año y va a ser profesor asistente. Para su juventud, un portento, vaya.

El transporte en ToulouseAdemás, me llamó la atención un detalle de él y es que se interesó por conocer todo Madrid y no sólo las zonas turísticas, por lo que hicimos un tour en bici por la periferia del suroeste de la ciudad y uno de sus lugares favoritos para ver atardecer es el parque del Cerro del Tío Pío. Quizá tuviera que ver con un tema de investigación al que le estuvo dando vueltas: la suburbanización debida a que los centros de las ciudades se conviertan en escenarios de cartón piedra para los turistas. Al final, parece que no será su tema de Tesis, pero seguro que nos sorprenderá con algo igual de interesante.