Toulouse is a city in southwestern France, and capital of Haute-Garonne in the Midi-Pyrenees region. It stands just north of the Pyrenees on the River Garonne, halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon. It's known for its rugby, its aerospace industry and for violets, which are used to make bonbons and liqueurs here.
The city was a Roman settlement, "Tolosa", and the smaller inner streets still follow the ancient layout. In the Middle Ages, Toulouse ruled an independent county, but it joined the Kingdom of France in 1271. In the fourteenth century, it was devastated by pogroms, the Black Death, famine, and war. Then, in the fifteenth century, it became wealthy from its monopoly on "pastel," a blue pigment extracted from woad plants, only to slump again when the monopoly was broken by indigo imports from India. In 1750, after its recovery, the city was rebuilt in pink terracotta brick, giving rise to its nickname La ville rose. The university flourished: founded in 1229, it's one of the oldest in the world, and now has over 100,000 students. Fermat pondered his theorems here in between his legal work.
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