SPORTS AND INSURANCE
The area of Toulouse offers the oportunity to practice almost any sport. Check the “Sports” section of the yellow pages, or the Sports chapter of Toulouse Pratique (See Chapter 27) for an alphabetical listing of all sorts of sports facilities and clubs.
For those on the French healthcare system, and beyond home country insurance, it is strongly recommended that anyone participating in mountain sports investigate special sports insurance for injuries not covered by normal insurance policies (i.e. carte neige). See Chapter 13, Medical/Healthcare – Insurance section.
Larger companies will have a “Comité d’Entreprise” which offers their employees ticket reductions on some sporting activities. Be sure to ask.
There are three American Football Clubs in the Toulouse area:
“Les Ours” – Toulouse
“Les Raptors” – Bouloc
“Les Cometes” – Montrabe. They welcome players of all ages and levels, flag and full contact. www.cometes-footus.com
Stade Toulousain Baseball & Softball runs a whole league of amateur teams for all ages and levels of ability. You can find out more about the club and how to join at their website www.toulousebaseball.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/
Since biking on Toulouse’s narrow streets can be hazardous, try the scenic bike path along the Canal du Midi, or the Garonne or the Canal Latéral.
There is a “BMX dirt park” in Castanet, 100 meters from the Canal de Midi. There is a bike ride along the banks of the Aussonnelle.
Le Fil Vert (The Green Thread) : a free biking event open to all is organized on the first week-end in June with three different trips to be discovered. Registration is necessary to participate ; for more information contact Tel: 05 34 41 59 59 or website www.filvert.grandtoulouse.org.
There are four bowling complexes in the area: Labege, Minimes, Gramont and Colomiers. Check the Yellow Pages, “Bowling,” for details.
Private flying can be a most enjoyable experience, particularly since all control tower staff speak English. Normally, you need to join a flying club and pay an annual fee, but some clubs do have daily fees. Be sure to ask. You do need insurance. It is best to get the insurance at the beginning of each year because the charge is the same amount for one year or four months. American licenses are accepted but you must go to the light aircraft section of Blagnac Airport to get your license registered. Take three identification photos with you.
• l’Aéroclub Jean Mermoz, Aérodrome de Muret, Tel: 05 61 52 03 85
• l’Aéroclub de Languedoc, Aérodrome Bourg St. Bernard, Tel: 05 61 83 77 72 (mostly gliders)
• l’Aéroclub de l’Ariège (Glider Club), Tel: 05 61 66 11 00
The popularity of golf is ever-increasing in France. While there are not a large quantity of local courses, the quality of those that exist is very good.
Golf Latitudes, route de Grenade, Seilh is a very foreign user-friendly course. They are open daily to non-members. Facilities include two 18-hole courses (par 64 and par 72) plus a hotel, pool and restaurant. Rental clubs are available. Tel: 05 62 13 14 14.
Other local courses (les golfs du Sud-Ouest):
• Golf de la Ramée, chemin Larramet, Tournefeuille Tel: 05 61 07 09 09 – offers private lessons with an English speaking professional (Camille).
• Golf de Teoula, 71 avenue Landes, Plaisance du Touch. Tel: 05 61 91 98 80
• Golf de Toulouse-Palmola, Route d’Albi, Buzet sur Tarn. Tel: 05 61 84 20 50
There are many gym clubs in Toulouse that offer monthly and yearly memberships. Most offer a weight room as well as classes in ‘step’, aerobics, dance, and muscular training. Some also have pools and saunas, offer martial arts classes or cater to children with special classes. Check “Toulouse Pratique” under the heading ‘forme’ for names and locations.
HORSEBACK RIDING & PONY CLUBS
Riding schools are usually open to every rider. Occasional riders will pay hourly fees. If you plan to ride regularly, most clubs will require an annual membership fee (in 2002: 80-180€ for adults, 60-80€ for children, reductions possible for Airbus employees and students), plus the license of the French Riding Federation (in 2002: about 22€). Membership entitles you to reduced hourly fees. Most clubs will let you ride a few times, to decide if you want to join. Helmets are required in most places, but they often have ones which you can use for the day, although not always in good condition. Some barns require boots and crops.
Pony lessons are usually scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays for beginners, and possibly after school for more experienced riders. Sundays are usually reserved for activities like trail rides, pony games, or jumping competitions. Trail rides can be easily arranged for small groups, be sure to ask.
Most riding schools will offer day-courses during the school breaks. At the end of the week, official level tests can be taken (galops).
Clubs ususally offer dressage, jumping and trail rides. English saddles will be most commonly used. Western or Australian saddles are sometimes available.
Horse breeds are mostly European. The South West of France specializes in breeding Anglo-Arabs, so they are widely found in clubs. French Saddlebred (Selle Français) are excellent jumpers, and Spanish and Portuguese horses star in dressage. Quarter horses are rare, and gaited horses are the exception.
• Club Hippique de Blagnac, Tel: 05 61 15 60 00, excellent pony and horse riding school, English-speaking instructors.
• Club Hippique d’Hounedis, Ratelier Hotel/Restaurant, Tel: 05 61 85 43 37 for trail rides in the Forêt de Bouconne.
• Poney Club de Charlas, Plaisance du Touch, Tel: 05 61 07 40 21
• Ferme Equestre d’En Crouchet, St. Paul-s/Save, Tel: 05 61 85 38 27: lessons for very young riders on Shetland ponies, trail rides on Sundays on horseback or in carriages.
• La Seillonne, Pin Balma, Tel: 05 61 84 46 00: has an excellent poney club.
• Ranch Abako, Montaigut sur Save outdoor riding, all levels 15 euros per hour 145 euros per week-end Tel:05 61 06 17 12
• For a fabulous trail ride in the Montagne Noire, try L’Etrier de la Montagne Noire, near Cammazes, Tel: 05 63 74 14 71.
The ice rinks (patinoire) are open October through May. As daily hours are variable, call for hours and fees. Regular and hockey skates can be rented.
• The rink in Blagnac is located at 10, avenue du Général de Gaulle, Tel. 05 62 74 71 40. A specific area with games is reserved for children two hours on Sunday mornings. Exit 902.1 “Place de la Révolution” and follow signs for ‘Blagnac Centre’
• The Toulouse rink, La Fraternité, is located on Avenue de l’Hers, Tel. 05 61 48 60 40.
Dojo Tonic, 28 Boulevard Matabiau, Toulouse. Tel: 05 61 99 63 31
• Speedway 31 Kart, 164 route de Revel, Toulouse, Tel: 05 62 16 32 00. They hold their ‘Coupe Speedway’ in December. The competition is open to all, and every driver who participates receives a little something in return.
Toulouse has a dynamic rowing club, l’Aviron Toulousain, that welcomes anyone for competition or for pleasure, and youngsters 11 and older. Grown-ups can sign up for a Saturday morning test run (9:30am, 15 euros); kids from 11 to 14 can show up for a free try-out on Wednesdays at 2pm or on Saturdays at 1:30. The club has just started offering Avifit classes (ie indoor rowing = fitness on erg machines).
The English page of the website is here http://aviron-toulousain.fr/english.php or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 06 26 57 42 12 for more information in English.
Skiing is very popular in France and particularly in the Toulouse region, as it is just a 2-hour drive to the slopes. The Pyrenées offer more than 30 downhill ski resorts, and half-dozen more for cross country skiing.
Some of the closest ski areas are Ax-Bonascre, Pas de la Case-Soldeu (Andorra), St. Lary-Soulan (for an English-speaking family hotel, try the Vald’Aure, Tel: 05 62 98 60 63), Superbagnères and Piau Engaly. If you’re going for more than a day trip you can also ski at Cauterets, La Mongie (for an English-speaking ski chalet, try Châlet de la Grande Champagne, Tel: 05 62 91 82 63), Font Romeu. For a high class resort, try Baquera in Spain. Le plateau de Beille is a cross country resort with a beautiful location only 90 minutes from Toulouse. You can try a sled-dog run. This place is ideal for children who are not too familiar with snow.
Several ski clubs organize day, weekend and even week-long (school vacation) trips as well as offer discount tickets to members going to the slopes on their own. Pyrénées Ski Club, rue du Taur, Toulouse or Colomiers Ski Club. Decathlon and Igloo Sports also sell reduced ski passes for selected resorts.
Most ski resorts offer ski classes for adults and children, either in groups or individual lessons. Classes are run by professional teachers at the ESF (Ecole de Ski Français). Tests can be taken to assess skiing levels. For children older than 5 years: Flocon for beginners, and then 1ère étoile, 2ème étoile, 3ème étoile.
The fee for the ski lesson doesn’t include the cost for equipment rental.
Some ski stations will offer a Jardin des neiges for younger kids up to 5 years old, with reserved areas where they can play with snow, under professional supervision. Some ski stations also have day care – garderie – for children from ages 3 months to 5 years. The cost does not cover lunch, snacks or diapers. You are sometimes asked for your child’s health record (carnet de santé).
Ski gear and boots can be rented in all ski resorts. Make certain to bring an ID or drivers license to be left in the shop until you return with the gear. Sleds may also be rented. Larger companies with a Comité d’Entreprise may rent equipment for children for the ski season.
Ski passes can be bought for a half day, full day, or more depending on the length of your stay. Children under 12 years old pay a reduced price. Children under 5 years old usually don’t pay but you still need to ask for a free pass at the ticket counter. Ski pass prices are higher during the winter school break – usually February. As skiing is very popular in France, try to avoid the crowds during week ends in the break.
Espace Biotonic, 98 bis, chemin de la Flambère, Toulouse. Tel. 05 61 49 30 79; five courts, open daily.
Aérosquash de Blagnac, 94, route de Cornebarrieu, Blagnac. Tel. 05 61 71 94 07; six courts, open daily.
There are many public swimming pools in Toulouse and its suburbs. They are generally quite clean, well kept and many are open year-round. Some are outdoors or indoors only, while others have sliding roofs and are transformed for the summer/winter seasons. Most pools are open all day Monday through Saturday and during school vacations. On school days they are usually open to the public from 17:00 to 19:00 as they are used for swim classes during school hours. Check your local pool for details. Prices are reasonable and multiple entry cards are available at a reduced rate. Bathing caps (bonnet de bain) are usually required. Bermuda short bathing suits for men are usually not permitted.
The newest pool in Colomiers is fabulous, with indoor, pool, current and wading pools, as well as an indoor/outdoor slide/ride, A new olympic swimming pool is being built in La Ramée and scheduled to open in 2002. The St. Ferréol lake just outside of Revel (60 km south east of Toulouse) is a nice place to go on a hot summer’s day. You can swim, rent paddle boats, windsurf or just relax.
Windsurfing can be enjoyed in the designated areas in the following places: Base de Loisirs de La Ramée, when windy!
Lac de Saint Féréol, near Revel, south east of Toulouse
Lac de la Ganguise, near Nailloux, south east of Toulouse
If you want to sail on the Mediterranean, you can reach the beaches in Narbonne, Leucate, or l’étang de Beille in Gruissan in less than two hours.