La Piste des Géants / Runway of Giants
A unique cultural venue opened its doors at the end of 2018 in Toulouse, to highlight and publicise the aeronautical adventure: the Runway of Giants, an intelligent combination of a world of wonders and a remembrance site dedicated to the pioneers of aviation.
The Runway of Giants (La Piste des Géants)
The cultural site "The Runway of Giants" is part of the ambitious Toulouse Aerospace urban project, which Toulouse Métropole is bringing into being in Montaudran, the historic birthplace of aeronautics.
Designed around the runway from which the pioneers of civil aviation took off during the 1920s, "The Runway of Giants" comprises a number of features:
- a remembrance space (L'Envol des pionniers) in the restored historic buildings of the Aeropostale to discover the human adventure of the french airmail service
- the Gardens of the Line, alongside the former Aeropostale runway, inspired by the different landscapes crossed by the pilots, from Toulouse to Chile
- la Halle de La Machine, a contemporary building that houses the dreamlike creations of La Machine Company.
La Halle de La Machine
This 6,000m2 space presents the stable that is home to the fantasy street theatre machines designed and created by François Delaroziere and La Machine Company.
As they stroll through this exhibition hall, visitors are encouraged to chat to the actual machine operators, who act as mediators, learning from them the genesis and the workings of each creature on display within the Hall. They can also take an unexpected journey on the back of a Monotaur, the monumental machine created especially for Toulouse (47 tons and 14m tall).
The Minotaur’s first appearance drew more than 900,000 spectators to the historic city centre of Toulouse from 1st to 4th November 2018 as part of an impressive show entitled « The guardian of the temple ». A cultural programmer bar-restaurant, a boutique and meeting spaces all allow spectators to experience a truly unforgettable moment in the Halle de la Machine.
L'Envol des pionners (Flight of the pioneers)
Aeropostale was a crazy challenge that brought hundreds of men and women together around leading figures like Mermoz, Guillaumet and Saint-Exupéry to live an incredible adventure in the early XX Century, ensuring that the post could be delivered.
It was in Montaudran, on the Runway of Giants, a 1.8km aircraft runway that is partially listed as a Historic Monument, where the great love story between Toulouse and airplanes really took off! In this remembrance space devoted to the human adventure of those early days in aeronautics, mediators will accompany visitors right throughout their journey.
Getting under the skin of pilots, mechanics, managers and factory foremen who all share the experiences of the workers they represent through their stories, we are allowed to dive into the universe of these pioneers of aviation that crossed deserts, oceans and mountains to make sure the mail arrived safely.
The Gardens of the Line
Situated alongside the former Aéropostale runway, these gardens represent the ambiance of the 3 continents crossed by early aviators. It provides a way to relive the adventure of the pioneers of aeronautics, with 8 different landscapes and habitats ranging from Toulouse to Valparaiso in Chile. These gardens will also include play areas for children and interactive features to let visitors discover and learn about the various countries, combining to create a wonderful experience for the whole family to enjoy.
Why is Toulouse the European capital of aeronautics?
In 1917, Latécoère, the very first airplane manufacturers in France began to look for premises for a factory far from the front line so that it could deliver military aircraft. Toulouse, situated far from the fighting, was selected as the base of operations. After the War, the company moved into commercial aviation with the establishment of Latécoère. Toulouse became the main base for airlines serving France, West Africa and South America; the starting point for France’s longest air route. Latécoère, succeeded in 1927 by Aéropostale, began by transporting mail, followed later by freight and finally, from 1920 onwards, the very first passengers. Mermoz and Saint Exupéry are among the famous pilots of the company.