Paint the Town Pink at the Best Bars in Toulouse

Top-rated N°5 Wine Bar is one of the excellent options for a tipple in Toulouse
Top-rated N°5 Wine Bar is one of the excellent options for a tipple in Toulouse | Courtesy of N°5 Wine Bar, Toulouse
Photo of Caroline Harrap
14 May 2020

As befitting a city full of students, Toulouse is home to a wide range of bars. From a cool cocktail lounge and a rooftop retreat to a low-key haunt and the perfect place for pastis, here Culture Trip brings you some of the best of Toulouse’s bars.

Home to one of the country’s largest universities, Toulouse combines a lively student scene with the serene vibe of the south of France. One man who knows all about that is Léopold Bach, owner of farm-to-fork restaurant, Campagne, and Buvette, a bar specialising in local drinks. Born and bred in Toulouse, Léopold also studied in the city, so he knows the bar scene better than anyone – here are a few of his favourites.

Café de la Concorde

Bar, French, $$$
Map View
Café de la Concorde
Courtesy of Café de la Concorde

Dating from the 19th century, Café de la Concorde is one of the oldest and most beautiful bars in the city. Renowned for its archetypal French decor, the enchanting façade has classified status – but the well-worn furniture, vintage posters and wonderful wooden bar found inside are just as much a part of the experience. “The Concorde is something of an institution in Toulouse,” says Léopold. “So, this is definitely a place I would bring any visiting friends.” In addition, there is also a lovely terrace, where you can relax with a drink as you watch the world go by.

Bar l’Échanson

Bar, French
Map View

Something of a lesser-known gem, Bar l’Échanson is a real favourite among locals – and for good reason. “It’s not the most beautiful or the most famous, but, like a typical Toulouse bar, it’s one of the best,” explains Léopold. “It’s got a great atmosphere, fast and friendly service, and it’s good value. Plus, there’s a nice terrace, too.” Apparently, an échanson was the name once given to the unfortunate individual tasked with tasting the king’s drinks in order to check for poison. There are no such worries here – just a warm welcome, affordable prices and an attractive setting on a sunny square.

Fat Cat

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
fat cat toulouse
Courtesy of Fat Cat Toulouse
With its speakeasy-style ambience, the Fat Cat is one of the chicest addresses in town. There’s no password required, but be sure to arrive early if you want to secure a seat amidst the candle-lit tables, elegant armchairs and creative cocktails. “The cocktails here are some of the best around,” says Léopold. “They’re made by expert mixologists from the freshest seasonal ingredients, and they taste amazing.” The service is also second to none, and the bar is found in a central location in the city.

Ma Biche sur le Toit

Bar, French, $$$
Map View
Ma Biche sur le Toit
Courtesy of Ma Biche sur le Toit

Located on the top of iconic department store Galeries Lafayette, this swanky rooftop bar offers panoramic views over the Pink City. It’s not cheap, but well worth paying a few extra euros for the beautiful backdrop. “This is the one for a special occasion,” says Léopold. “It really does have the best view of any bar in the city.” Open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and coffee or tea, in the evening you can taste their gourmet dishes over a good bottle or discover their signature cocktails. Also, look out for the special DJ nights they regularly host.

N°5 Wine Bar

Wine Bar, Wine, $$$
Map View
N°5 Wine Bar, Toulouse
Courtesy of N°5 Wine Bar, Toulouse

Voted Best Wine Bar in the World three years running (2017/18/19), what makes this place so special is that they offer an exceptional selection of some 4,000 different wines – and 500 of them are available by the glass. “From the finest grand crus and rare vintages to local favourites, this is definitely the one for the wine-lovers,” says Léopold. Then there’s the atmospheric setting, with its vaulted brick walls, and the additional bonus of a delicious tapas menu. Last but not least, they also host special wine-tasting events with their expert sommelier.

Chez Tonton

Bar, French
Map View

One of the oldest pastis bars in the country, Chez Tonton is an absolute must-visit in the city. Opened in the 1950s, they later became renowned for serving this anise-flavoured apéritif by the metre – 17 glasses – and remain so today. Also located on one of the city’s most beautiful squares, the bar overlooks the Garonne River. “This is the perfect place to sit with a pastis and watch the sun set over the water,” says Léopold. “It can get a little crazy later on, with people dancing on the tables, but there really is no other bar like it.”

La Cale Sèche

Bar, French
Map View
La Cale Sèche
Courtesy of La Cale Sèche
Running for more than 20 years, this specialist rum bar offers a wide range of high-quality rums and rum-based cocktails in a pirate-inspired setting. “I’ve been several times to this place, and it’s always a great night,” reveals Léopold. “If you fancy trying a new tipple, the fruit-based rums are particularly good, or otherwise they make a mean mojito.” Found in a central location, next to Place du Capitole, the atmosphere is fun, friendly and lively.

Borriquito Loco

Bar, Spanish, $$$
Map View

Taking its influence very much from the south, this Spanish-style party bar is a staple of old Toulouse, offering sangria, cocktails and some terrific tapas dishes. There’s a vibrant atmosphere here, and after a few drinks it inevitably leads to singing, dancing and general revelry. “This is another real institution in the city,” says Léopold. “It’s impossible not to have a good time here.” Ideal for groups, birthdays or dinner with friends, it’s crowded, convivial and a little crazy, but always good fun.

DAda

Bar, Wine Bar, French, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
Rum and cocktails
© Marler/Wikicommons
The clue is in the name at this quintessentially quirky little tavern. Channelling the Surrealist spirit, DAda offers eccentric but beautiful design with old bric-à-brac objects of all kinds. In tandem with this, there is a carefully curated wine and cocktail list at this low-key locals’ haunt, and it’s all set against an interesting soundtrack. “This is one that will appeal to an alternative audience who are looking for something a bit different,” advises Léopold. In addition, there are regular DJ sets and concert nights, and the staff here are both friendly and knowledgeable.

Connexion Live

Bar, French
Map View
Le Connexion Live
Courtesy of Le Connexion Live

For the live music fans, Connexion Live is another must on the list. Part bar, part venue, it is located in an old industrial building and offers a varied programme of events – they feature independent and alternative artists, from rock to electro and folk, as well as DJs and themed evenings. “This is the perfect place to listen to live music in the city centre,” says Léopold. “They always have good artists with something for all tastes.” There is also an outdoor terrace, perfect for summer, and sporting events are broadcast on a big screen.

These recommendations were updated on May 14, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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