La Piste des Géants is a new cultural complex at Toulouse-Montaudran, celebrating the start of the great aeronautics adventure in Toulouse, the dreams and values of men whose farsightedness and ambition made it possible to use the historic airstrip to structure a new district dedicated to innovation around it.
L’AEROPOSTALE’S HISTORIC AIRSTRIP IS THE BACKBONE OF THIS FAST-GROWING DISTRICT
Partly a listed Historic Monument, the 1.8km-long runway witnessed the first aeroplanes taking off from Toulouse: those of the top aeronautics firm in Toulouse, Lignes Aériennes Latécoère, in 1918 — which became L’Aéropostale (Compagnie Générale Aéropostale) in 1927.
In 1933, Air France took over the airstrip, using it for maintenance of its aircraft until 2003.
So the adventure continues along the historic runway of Toulouse-Montaudran, converted into an urban road in the new Innovation District, Toulouse Aérospace.
Once a busy airstrip, the runway today is helping shape the future of this new cultural residential commercial and technological district developing around it, opening up to the entire population of Toulouse and becoming a key element in the city’s aeronautics heritage.
AN AMBITIOUS HISTORIC CULTURAL OFFERING LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Around the runway, the people of Toulouse are taking advantage of this new cultural offering. With its gardens (Jardins de La Ligne), L’Envol des Pionniers and La Halle de la Machine, La Piste des Géants offers a completely new approach to the city’s aeronautic tradition. Here, looking to the past draws us to the future, the values framework shows us how to go beyond our own context, the past teaches us innovation and our imagination takes us into the real world.
Les Jardins de la Ligne
Les Jardins de la Ligne: 2 hectares of gardens along the historic runway in a landscaped evocation of the countries overflown by Lignes Aériennes Latécoère and L’Aéropostale pilots. With Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, the spirit of three continents is recreated through typical plants, minerals, colours, water, etc.
L’Envol des Pionniers
L’Envol des Pionniers is the stuff of legend, an essential heritage for Toulouse.
It is here, in Montaudran, on the site of L’Envol des Pionniers, that the adventure of L’Aéropostale began and unfolded over the years, with over 20 prototypes and model aeroplanes capable of rising to each successive challenge were devised and assembled. From here, they took off and, here, this adventure is recounted to everyone at long last.
L’Envol des Pionniers represents all that reflects the greatness of this adventure; it is still imbued with the very special spirit of these exceptional men and women. This venue is home to the soul of its pioneers.
These ‘giants’ of La Ligne were the very first Giants of the runway.
L’Envol des Pionniers also attests to the weight of the amazing L’Aéropostale adventure in the history of Toulouse and the City’s very identity. Although it is widely recognised today as the world aeronautics capital, it must be understood that the first aircraft built in Toulouse were actually made in Montaudran in 1918. It is there, on the site of L’Envol des Pionniers, that civil aeronautics began in Toulouse, which has never stopped designing and building aircraft ever since…
This is the origin of Toulouse’s world-renowned aeronautic identity, which is so strong today.
La Halle de la Machine
Standing alongside L’Envol des Pionniers, La Compagnie La Machine Écurie instils life into its giant imaginary creatures and unlikely machines in its great hall on the historic runway.
La Halle de la Machine orchestrates and animates its showpieces onstage. There, it organises concerts, artistic meetings, putting this highly symbolic historic venue to new use. Thus, the machinists who bring these creatures to life, recounting their history and legend, take us on a new poetic sensory journey, where impressive giant concrete mechanical creations takes us — literally for some — into their oneiric worlds. La Machine’s giants are imaginary behemoths of the airstrip.