Toulouse's theater, dance, and opera are often on a par with the Paris scene. Pick up a copy of the free monthly magazine Toulouse Culture from the Office de Tourisme for the latest happenings.
The city's most notable theaters are the Théâtre du Capitole, place du Capitole (tel. 05-61-63-13-13; www.theatre-du-capitole.org), which specializes in operas, operettas, and works from the classical French repertoire; the Théâtre de la Digue, 3 rue de la Digue (tel. 05-61-42-97-79; www.ladigue.org), for ballets and works by local theater companies; and the Halle aux Grains, place Dupuy (tel. 05-61-63-13-13), the home of the Orchestre du Capitole and a venue for classical concerts. The Théâtre Garonne, 1 av. du Château d'Eau (tel. 05-62-48-56-56; www.theatregaronne.com), stages everything from works by Molière to current dramas. Another important venue is the Théâtre Zenith, 11 av. Raymond-Badiou (tel. 05-62-74-49-49), with its large stage and seating capacity. It usually schedules rock concerts, variety acts, and musical comedies from other European cities. A smaller competitor, with a roughly equivalent mix of music and theater, is the Théâtre de la Cité, 1 rue Pierre Baudis (tel. 05-34-45-05-00; www.tnt-cite.com).
The liveliest squares to wander after dark are place du Capitole, place St-Georges, place St-Pierre, and place Wilson.
For bars and pubs, La Tantina de Bourgos, 27 rue de la Garonette (tel. 05-61-55-59-29), has a Latin flair that's popular with students, and the rowdier Chez Tonton, 16 place St-Pierre (tel. 05-61-21-89-54), has an après-match atmosphere, complete with the winning teams boozing it up. A popular bar that schedules both live and recorded music is Monsieur Carnaval, 34 rue Bayard (tel. 05-61-99-14-56), where there's lots of rocking and rolling a la française for the under-35 crowd.
The town's trendiest and most widely sought-after disco for the under-35 set is Le Purple, 2 rue Castellane (tel. 05-62-73-04-67). Set close to the Sofitel, this disco has the longest lines and elicits the highest level of passion within the city's A-list wannabes. The busiest English-style pub in town, woodsy and Celtic-looking, and often very crowded with the city's English-speaking community, is Le Frog & Le Roast Beef, 14 rue de l'Industrie (tel. 05-61-99-28-57). Behind a simple, discreetly marked green door is La Pelouse interdite, 72 av. des Etats-Unis (tel. 05-61-47-30-40; www.pelouseinterdite.net), a charming restaurant and bar with a garden. And if you have a car and don't mind driving about 20 minutes out of town (follow the signs pointing to Albi), a hip and sought-after rendezvous point is Le Lounge 233, 233 rte. d'Albi (tel. 05-61-48-60-60), where a fussy and complicated list of cocktails, something many young French clubbers are just getting used to, are available for around 12€ each. A somewhat less cutting-edge, but very popular, disco is Cockpit, 1 rue du Puits-Vert (tel. 05-61-21-87-53), near Le Capitol and the nocturnally animated place Wilson. It's been around longer than Le Purple, and is less modish, but still has a strong appeal to danceaholics. As any good disco, Le Capitol incorporates a mixed crowd of males, females, gay people (who in recent years seem, at least here, to be increasing in their visibility), straight people, and in-betweens.
Mostly heterosexuals migrate to Disco Le Maximo, 3 rue Gabrielle-Peri (tel. 05-61-62-08-07), which starts hopping Tuesday to Saturday after 11pm, and serves a distinctly French-inspired list of tapas (foie gras on toast, perhaps). For a beer-soaked and raucous time, try the vaguely Iberian-looking establishment, Bar La Bodega, 2-3 rue Gabriel-Peri (tel. 05-61-63-03-63). It's particularly interesting in the wake of one of the region's football (soccer) games, especially if the home team has won.
The oldest and most deeply entrenched gay bar in Toulouse is Shanghai Express, 12 rue de la Pomme (tel. 05-61-23-37-80), a men's dance domain playing the latest in techno; farther inside, it gives way to a darker and, at its best, sexy cruise-bar environment with lots of men on the prowl. Entrance is free and it's open every night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.