Driving guides

Driving to Toulouse from Calais

Take a road trip from Calais to Toulouse, a city pretty in pink! Check out what to see on the way in our driving guide.

Driving to Toulouse from Calais

Toulouse, the capital of the south-west Occitanie region, is one of France’s great cities. Known as ‘La Ville Rose’ because of the distinctive pink colour of the bricks used for its historic buildings, Toulouse has plenty of things to see and do. 

It is a famous rugby city too, with its club Stade Toulousain one of the leading teams in Europe. Toulouse will therefore be a proud host city for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, staging five games at its 33,000 capacity stadium, dubbed ‘The Little Wembley’ by locals.

Here is a guide for sports fans or anyone else thinking of a road trip from Calais to Toulouse. 

How long does it take to drive from Calais to Toulouse?

It takes between 10 and 11 hours to drive from Calais to Toulouse, with the shortest distance being the 600 mile (967km) route on the A20 via Paris. So we would recommend a long break or overnight stop at one of the cities mentioned below.  

The quickest route – the A20 via Paris

The travel time of this route, which has tolls, will be just over 10 hours. Take the A26 from our terminal at Calais and pass close to Arras on your way to the capital. Join the A10 south of Paris and pick up the A20 through Nouvelle-Aquitaine all the way down to Toulouse.

Places to visit en-route

Orleans 

The historic city of Orléans is linked forever with Joan of Arc, the peasant girl burnt at the stake by the English in 1431. 

The modern city celebrates her life, from the stained glass windows of the cathedral to the equestrian statue in the Place du Martroi. The city has a wealth of cultural attractions aside from Joan, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Hôtel Groslot, an original Renaissance hotel. Families will also find plenty of things to do at the Parc Floral de la Source, botanical gardens with farm animals and a butterfly house, and Île Charlemagne,  a pleasure and adventure island on the southern banks of the Loire. 
 
Limoges 

An impressive station building with a tall clock tower behind a public park with a water fountain

About three hours from Toulouse is the city of Limoges, which is a French secret well worth discovering. There is much of interest here, from the quaint Quartier de la Boucherie, with its cobbled lanes and half-timbered houses, to the grand and imposing Limoges Cathedral, notable for its Renaissance rood screen and frescoed Romanesque crypt. Just outside the city you can follow a section of the Richard the Lionheart route, which includes significant places in the life of the Crusader King. If you’re here at Halloween you will also catch one of France’s spookiest celebration parades!

The railway station once featured in a TV advert for Chanel No 5 starring French actor Audrey Tautou! 

The A16 and A20

There is very little to choose in terms of journey time between this route and the one above. The only difference is that you head to Paris via Amiens on the A16. There are tolls on this route too. 

Points of interest en-route

Amiens 

A stone sculpture showing a figure breaking out of a coffin at a cemetery monument

Around two hours from our Calais terminal is the charming city of Amiens. The river Somme runs through the city, a poignant reminder that Amiens suffered much in both World Wars. Its historic character survived, epitomised by the Gothic cathedral, the largest of its kind in France. The labyrinth on the marble floor of the cathedral is a highlight of any visit.

Another unmissable sight in Amiens is the extraordinary tomb of Jules Verne, who lived in the city for 34 years. Located in the cemetery in Amiens, it depicts the shrouded figure of the science fiction novelist breaking free of his grave and reaching for immortality.  

Versailles 

An immaculate and ornate garden with a round pond at a royal palace

Your route around the western outskirts of Paris takes you almost straight past the Palace of Versailles and its gardens. It would make sense to stop for a few hours and marvel at this architectural masterpiece, wonder of the French baroque and seat of royal power during the reign of Louis XIV. 

Timeslots to visit the Palace should be booked in advance. There are a variety of ticket types available, from passports giving access to the entire estate to tickets just for the estate of Trianon and gardens, as well as tickets for the equestrian shows, a boat ride on the Grand Canal or a 1-hour bike ride around the Park. You can live like a King in Versailles! 

Avoiding Paris via the A16, A28 and A20

The driving distance of this route, with tolls, is 10 hours 40 minutes, and only differs from the other routes by going west of Paris on the A16, A28 and A13. South of Chartres you pick up the same southbound route to Toulouse. 

Places to visit en-route    

Chartres 

Chartres is a city famous for its spectacular Gothic cathedral. It was called a ‘masterpiece’ by UNESCO when it became a World Heritage Site in 1979. Despite the city sustaining heavy damage during World War II, the cathedral was miraculously almost untouched. What you see before you is what the people of 13th-century Chartres would have seen. 

You do not have to go inside the cathedral to appreciate its great beauty. The west door features what the art historian Kenneth Clark called ‘the most beautiful congregations of carved figures in the world’. Inside there are more untold riches, including one of France’s holiest relics, the tunic reputed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.  

Pont Valentre 

A medieval bridge across a river with two towers and five arches visible

Around an hour and a half from Toulouse is another piece of medieval architecture that has stood the test of time. Cahors is a small town tucked into a bend of the river Lot, but one of its bridges, Pont Valentre, dates from the 14th century. It is a rather wonderful three towered structure. 

Eagle-eyed visitors (or should that be devil-eyed?) will notice a carved demon at the top of a tower trying to make off with one of the stones. Legend has it that the builder sold his soul to the devil in a desperate attempt to finish the bridge, then played a trick on Satan which did not go down well. As his revenge the devil stole a stone every night so that the bridge was never completed!  

It is definitely worth making the slight detour off the A20 to take a look. 

How much are the tolls from Calais to Toulouse?

You should expect to pay around €61.50 in tolls each way driving from Calais to Toulouse.  

An Emovis tag will help speed up your passage through the tolls. We have an exclusive offer saving customers €10 on the application fee of an Emovis tag if you apply with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Drive to Toulouse with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Whether you are travelling to Toulouse for business or pleasure, your journey starts with a 35 minute crossing from Folkestone to Calais with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. If you’ve got the driving bug, why not check out our other driving guides for destinations across France?  

Open a My Eurotunnel account today to stay up-to-date with travel information, holiday inspiration and special offers.

My Eurotunnel App

Create a My Eurotunnel account to securely store, manage and use your information for faster and easier bookings - also now available on iOS and Android! Find out more or create an account.

Drive to Toulouse with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

In this article

More driving guides

Loading...