Since December 1974
Committee Chair: Weslyn Samson
Toulouse is a French regional capitol that from the time of Charlemagne has been a center of commerce, religious activity and the arts. Toulouse’s location on the Garonne River is a source of boating and fishing that is linked to the Mediterranean by the Canal du Midi. The beauty of the town is enhanced by over 2,500 acres of public gardens. The solid economy is partially due to Toulouse’s role in industries based on robotics, space medicine and industrial satellite integration, with a fifty-acre space center said to be the most complete in Europe.
Toulouse, known as La Ville Rose, the Pink City, because of its red-brick architecture, is a popular tourist destination. As the gateway to the Pyrenees, it is close to a number of wonderful outdoor attractions. The city itself is full of character and charm. Toulouse boasts dozens of museums and exhibits about the region’s history and culture. Toulouse has two historic sites listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Toulouse is always working to improve its culture. In the last decade, the city had restored monuments dating back to the time of the Counts of Toulouse, refurbished the city’s symphonic concert hall, built a city theater, constructed the massive concert venue Zenith, the largest in France outside Paris, and more.
Culturally, Toulouse is home to the Galerie du Chateau d’eau, one of the oldest places dedicated to photography in the world, and the Academie des Jeux Floraux, the oldest literary society of the Western World.
The city hosts l’Oncopole de Toulouse, the largest cancer research center in Europe.
Toulouse is also a major French university location, with four universities and 16 quality institutes. Toulouse’s world renowned university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 119,000 students, is the third-largest university campus of France after Paris and Lyon.
About the Partnership
Atlanta began her official sister city relationship with Toulouse on December 17, 1974 when then mayors Maynard Jackson of Atlanta and Pierre Baudis of Toulouse signed a proclamation declaring Toulouse and Atlanta sister cities. Jackson had lived in Toulouse as a child, while his mother was pursuing her doctorate in French. He felt that the two sister cities would make excellent partners.
Since 1974, the Atlanta Toulouse Sister City Committee has maintained an active and productive relationship with Toulouse, France. The Atlanta Toulouse Sister City Committee welcomes visitors from Toulouse, France to Atlanta, promotes education events in Atlanta and Toulouse, and arranges travel to Toulouse and other French locations for groups of our members.
On May 20, 2005 Toulouse Mayor Monsieur Jean Luc Moudenc inaugurated the sculpture “l’Envol du Phoenix,” presented to the City of Toulouse by the Atlanta Toulouse Sister City Committee. The statue of The Phoenix, our own city’s emblem, was a gift symbolizing our complex feelings of compassion, empathy, renewal, friendship and rejuvenation in the wake of the AZF chemical factory explosion in Toulouse on September 21, 2001 that resulted in 29 deaths and left 2,500 wounded.
Since 2010, the Atlanta-Toulouse Committee has participated in the annual France-Atlanta multidisciplinary series of events each fall centered on innovation and designed to foster French-American cooperation and synergetic exchange in the U.S. Southeast, presented by the Consulate General of France in Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
In 2011, the Mayor of Toulouse the Honorable Pierre Cohen visited Atlanta to promote future cooperation between the two cities.
In 2013, the Atlanta-Toulouse Committee started the now annual tradition of offering hospitality to French graduate students enrolled in the Georgia Institute of Technology, including dinners and a variety of trips to Atlanta-area points of interest.
In March 2014, the Atlanta-Toulouse Committee welcomed eight guests from Toulouse to Atlanta. The Toulouse residents were shown local sites, provided with places to stay with ATSCC members. In October the Atlanta-Toulouse Committee sponsored a dance performance in collaboration by the Association Manifeste from Toulouse, and Atlanta’s CORE Performance Company.
In March 2015, Chief of Staff Byrd and International Affairs Director Claire Angelle traveled to Toulouse, France to commemorate the 40th sister city anniversary during a ceremony alongside the “Phoenix” statue that the City of Atlanta donated to the city to honor the victims of the 2011 AZF industrial accident. In return, the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs welcomed Toulouse Councilmembers Nicole Miquel-Belaud and Aviv Zonabend to Atlanta in October 2015.
The Atlanta Toulouse Sister Cities Committee (ATSCC) celebrated the start of 2023 with the Fete des rois (Feast of Kings), a traditional French holiday celebration that allows families to gather and eat Galette des Rois, or King's Cake. Later in the month, a wine tasting of wines from around the globe was enjoyed by members. In February, a reception was held to honor the new French Consul General, Anne-Laure Desjonqueres. Also, that month, members enjoyed a tour of the SCADFASH exhibition "Madame Gris: The Art of Draping." In March, a contingent of members toured Morocco, and while there our Board members had the opportunity to meet with our counterparts on the Toulouse Atlanta Board of Directors.
April began with a tour of Oak Hill, in Rome, Georgia, home of pioneer educator Martha Berry. Also, in April, a spring luncheon was enjoyed at La Petite Maison in Sandy Springs with a guest speaker who is a native of Toulouse. In May, a hike was organized at the Clyde Shepherd Nature Center in Decatur. Starting in June, members were treated to a tour of the "Life and the Afterlife" exhibition of ancient Egyptian art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. The month closed out with our annual welcome to summer, the Nuit en Blanc soiree.
In early July, members participated in a tour sponsored by Atlanta Preservation of historic Druid Hills. Later that month, members headed to Cartersville, Georgia, to tour the "75 Years of Porsche" exhibition at the Savoy Automobile Museum. In August, ATSCC hosted a French wine tasting and invited the French American Chamber of Commerce to partake. In September, we hosted a brunch for the Georgia Tech students from the Metz, France campus. Later that month, we toured the City of Light: Paris, 1850-1920" High Museum exhibition.
October began with a tour of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Geogia Tech. Members also toured later that month The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art, near Madison, Georgia. The year closed with the always festive Holiday Party.
The Toulouse Sister City Commission celebrated the start of 2020 with Fete de Rois (Feast of the Kings), a traditional French holiday celebration that allows families to gather and eat Galette des Rois, or King’s cake. Later that month, Toulouse represented France at the French-German Elysee Treaty Celebration. The treaty was signed in 1963 and marked the start of reconciliation and bilateral cooperation between France and Germany.
The Toulouse Sister Cities board members met in February 2020 to discuss plans and events for the upcoming year. In August, a virtual cocktail event was held to reacquaint committee members, and in September a socially distanced lunch of members was hosted at La Petite Maison, a French restaurant in Atlanta. Members also met to tour the historic Smith-Gilbert garden, and hike at Mason Mills Park. These social events helped committee members stay connected.
A welcome brunch was hosted in March for Masters students arriving from Georgia Institute of Technology’s Lorraine campus in France. This is Georgia Tech’s first international campus, established in 1990.
After the onset of COVID-19, the Atlanta-Toulouse Sister City Committee organized a virtual screening of Dean’s Road, an event that supported the collaboration of actors and artists from Atlanta and Toulouse. This event helped raise funds for artists impacted by the pandemic.
In January 2016, the Atlanta Board of Education and the Chancellor of Universities, Rector of the Academy of Toulouse signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pursue technical student exchanges. Designed to strengthen technical education and training, the MOU provides exposure and cultural awareness to students and teachers through an international experience. The program was officially launched in May 2016 with the arrival of ten French students, who were welcomed by APS for four weeks. The French students were placed in host families and assigned internships with local businesses according to their program requirements. The Atlanta students reciprocated the international exchange in June and were welcomed by French host families around Metro Toulouse and will attend different high schools during their stay, according to their professional interests.
On May 12, the ATSCC held a reception for new members, hosted by French Consul General Denis Barbet. Mr. Barbet, whose Consul General appointment ends this year, thanked the ATSCC for “partnering with the consulate to promote French-American relations and friendship in the region.”
In October 2016, the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs and Invest Atlanta launched the first international Startup Exchange program, which aimed to provide emerging enterprises a platform for global expansion through a two-week international residency. The residency also provided an opportunity to showcase the City of Atlanta as an economically-sound choice for their North American operations in the future.
Atlanta-based Carbice Nanotechnologies and Partpic, Inc. traveled to Atlanta’s sister city Toulouse, France where they conducted their residency at the Airbus BizLab and the CapGemini Lab’innovation. The Atlanta entrepreneurs met with European decision makers, investors, and executives in their respective sectors. They also attended EmTech France 2016, an international conference to showcase emerging technologies and connect startups with venture capitalists from across the globe.
Additionally, the City of Atlanta hosted Toulouse, France-based startups Donecle and Uwinloc from October 31 – November 12 to fulfill their two-week residency at the Garage at Tech Square. The startup executives attended the Atlanta TechStars Demo Day and the 2016 Venture Atlanta conference, which draws over 1,000 attendees annually and has led to more than $1.3 billion in startup investment since 2002.
To conclude the program, the startup executives participated in Atlanta’s first Aviation Innovation Demo Day hosted by the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Invest Atlanta, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s ATL Business Ventures. The pitch sessions provided a platform for emerging enterprises to showcase their technologies and generate new business with the world’s busiest passenger airport and Global Fortune 500 companies including Delta, Lufthansa and Southwest.