With its characteristic architecture, the city of Toulouse has earned the nickname "ville rose" or "pink city" due to the colour of the local building material traditionally used - terra cotta bricks. Its other nickname is the "city of violets". There is a brotherhood of violets in Toulouse, as there was large-scale production of this flower here. The Violet is one of the prizes awarded by the Academy of Floral Games in Toulouse.
Home to Airbus, Toulouse is now one of Europe's high-tech cities with a large number of cutting-edge businesses in the aeronautic, IT and spatial industries, as well as many research institutes. It is an important university town with prestigious cultural centres such as its conference centre, José-Cabanis multimedia library, Zénith concert hall, Abattoirs museum of modern and contemporary art, Cité de l'Espace space park and Toulouse National Theatre (TNT).
Toulouse is undergoing rapid demographic expansion, the fastest-growing in France and, for agglomerations with more than 850,000 inhabitants, even in Europe. It is considered one of the larger intermediate European cities along with Lyon, Marseille, Florence, Hamburg and Zurich.
If demographic expansion continues at the current rate, the agglomeration will soon join those French agglomerations with over a million inhabitants and may then supplant Nice followed by Lille.
In 2005 and in 2008, a study classed Toulouse as the second French town (after Nantes) for its quality of life, based on a list of well-defined criteria.