Love planes? Then the museums of Toulouse are the ultimate flight of fancy for holidaymakers

Compromise is at the heart of any successful family holiday, and Toulouse has the solution.

The cradle of European aviation offers thrills to rival a theme park – with superior food on the side.

The children can pilot a virtual biplane, walk through the Mir space station and ride on a giant Minotaur while you dine on cassoulet and a Languedoc red.

The city’s connection with flight began in 1917, when planes for the French military were manufactured there.

When peace came, aeronautical pioneer Pierre-Georges Latecoere used the aircraft and aviators – including the aristocratic author Antoine de Saint-Exupery – to carry mail to the French colonies in Africa and South America.

A new museum commemorating these trailblazers of long-distance flight opens this week on the site of the former aerodrome at Montaudran.

At Flight of the Pioneers, actors playing the historic pilots tell of their exploits, and from May, a custom-designed simulator will allow you to fly a Breguet 19 biplane over the desert where Saint-Exupery crashed, inspiring him to write Le Petit Prince.

At the headquarters of jet manufacturer Airbus, take a tour of the plant at Blagnac to see the double-decker A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner, being built, then pop next door to the Aeroscopia aeronautical museum and climb into the cockpit of a Concorde.

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