Toulouse has been Atlanta’s sister city since 1974. Like all sisters, the two share some similarities, but each is distinctly itself.
Native Toulousains and Atlantans are southerners as both cities reside in the lower half of their respective countries. Like native Atlantans, Toulousains have a regional dialect. Wonder what the Toulousain equivalent of “y’all” is?
Toulouse, however, takes it a step further with a regional language. Streets in the old city center feature dual street signs. One in French and the other in Occitan, a dying language in southern France, Italy, and Monaco, but the official language of Catalonia, Spain.
Toulouse has a busy airport…the air route between Toulouse Blagnac and Paris Orly is the busiest in Europe, transporting 2.4 million passengers in 2014…but nothing compared to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International which serviced a billion passengers last year to continue it’s reign as the world’s busiest.
Both cities were built in close proximity to rivers. The Chattahoochee River, springing from the Blue Ridge Mountains, supplies 70 percent of Atlanta’s drinking water. The Garonne, flowing out of the Pyrenees in Spain, is controlled by 50 locks as it is subject to flooding. No tubing on the Garonne!
Atlanta, destroyed by fire during the Civil War, is a 20th century city and as such, you definitely need a 20th century invention, the automobile, to live comfortably in metro-Atlanta. Public transportation is mediocre at best. On the other hand, Toulouse, first inhabited in the 8th century BC, is truly a pedestrian’s city. Much of the center center can be seen without even boarding a bus, but public transportation (bus, metro, train) is readily available throughout the metro area.
Despite being the older sister, by quite a few centuries, Toulouse has kept pace with a rapidly changing world. The city leads Europe’s aerospace industry (#2 in the world) and is France’s hotspot for onboard electronic systems.
Atlanta’s economy is diverse, with dominant sectors in logistics, professional and business services, media operations, and information technology.
Unsurprisingly, both cities have great universities and given the technical bent of the Toulouse economy, Georgia Tech and Toulouse University enjoy a special relationship.
When it comes to food, Toulouse offers
Saucisses de Toulouse, a type of sausage, cassoulet Toulousain, a bean and pork stew, and garbure, a cabbage soup with poultry.
Atlanta has…well…The Varsity.
Both cities share a love of art. Atlanta has theaters, the High Museum, the Atlanta Ballet Company and the Atlanta Symphony. Toulouse has ballet, opera, theater and multiple museums, including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
I’m fairly certain, however, that you’d never see this sculpture in an Atlanta park.
Afterall, for all it has in common with its sister city, Toulouse is still very French.