Travel Begins at 40 talks with Emmanuel Hilaire the owner of boutique Hotel Albert 1ER to discuss slow tourism in Toulouse.

Rejecting mass consumption and focusing on well-being, natural resources, and local culture, Hotel Albert 1 has earnt the European Ecolabel for social and environmental responsibility, thanks to the hotel’s focus on using quality, local and organic products.

What does slow tourism in Toulouse mean to you?

Emmanuel Hilaire the owner of boutique Hotel Albert 1ER to discuss slow tourism in Toulouse.
Emmanuel Hilaire the owner of boutique Hotel Albert 1ER

For us, slow tourism is an invitation to consume and live tourism differently, to take the time to meet people, to discover the culture and the local life, to live experiences around simple moments, without being in systematic consumption.

It is also having a different look on tourism in the city, it is possible to live in an urban environment and in moments connect with nature. Toulouse is a very beautiful city with many parks, crossed by the Garonne River and the Canal du Midi, a rich environment that is conducive to Slow Tourism.

Why did you implement slow tourism?

Slow Tourism echoes our values, those carried by our family which has managed the Albert 1er hotel for three generations. Slow tourism for us is the continuation of our environmental approach; avoiding waste, limiting our consumption and the use of chemicals, recovering our waste, favouring short circuits, selecting quality and seasonal products, respecting and favouring human exchanges with our clients, partners and employees.

Toulouse is situated on the Garonne river
Toulouse is situated on the Garonne river, making it a great place for slow kayaking

However, it is important to raise awareness for some and facilitate the slow tourism experience in the city for others. Many customers are sensitive to this, but do not know how to do it. That’s why we recently created our own “Carte & Carnet de Voyage” to accompany, guide, suggest and advise our clients on the experiences to be had in Toulouse, most of which are based on the team’s favourites.

What should people expect when visiting?

First of all, they should expect to stay in an independent boutique-hotel, with a soul, a history and a lot of “French charm” ideally located in the heart of the city, a few steps from the Place du Capitole. To be welcomed by a team that listens to and serves its visitors. To get off to a good start in the morning after having tasted a complete breakfast, an anthology of products from the South-West. Freshly squeezed orange juice, organic jam, homemade fruit juice, a selection of breads with or without gluten, pastries, free range eggs, cold cuts and cheeses from the nearby Victor Hugo market, coffee roasted by the Bacquié family… an invitation to discover our partners, and to taste good quality products of the Occitanie region.

slow tourism in Toulouse
Enjoy the fresh produce including the amazing cheeses in Toulouse

For those who wish, we provide our bicycles to discover Toulouse without polluting, a simple and accessible pleasure, an experience to live.

What has been the reaction of visitors?

Guests are pleasantly surprised by our initiative, many discover it within the hotel and the feedback is always very positive. It gives another dimension to their trip, for leisure or business the sensitivity of customers is the same. Sharing, exchanging, meeting and discovering a city are simple pleasures that in the context of COVID-19 were not possible and that today are so essential. This global crisis has also pointed out the need to promote local employment by soliciting the short circuit. We continue advise our clients to book directly rather than through an intermediary.

How has it benefited the local community?

By simply highlighting local personalities, it contributes to enhance their know-how, their history and gives them visibility. On a daily basis, this approach facilitates exchanges, meetings and allows us to share our customers’ comments and thus contribute to the evolution of their offers/products. This exposure, through our communication actions, is beneficial to make ourselves known to the Toulousains themselves and facilitate networking while reinforcing the community that is united around the same values.


For more inspiration, read James Clark’s Things to Do in Toulouse: Culture, Food and Rugby.


For more information on the hotel, visit: https://www.hotel-albert-1er.com/en/, and on slow tourism in Toulouse, and all things tourism-related in the city, visit: www.toulouse-visit.com

Main image: Vue depuis la grande roue © Gilles Martin

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