Determined to see more of France, I hastily reserved an Airbnb in one of France’s major cities. For an entire week…
Of all my time spent in France (literally since birth), I have visited Dordogne, Rouen, Normandy and Paris and of course, have lived in Libourne, therefore spent time in Bordeaux too. Oh, and Arcachon cannot be missed off. However, it’s never really felt like travelling, so I was desperate to get away. I decided on Toulouse as my first destination of ‘Operation: See as much of France before I leave’ because one, it wasn’t ridiculously far away, and two, I had a desire to see La Ville Rose after countless Pinterest and Instagram searches which made me fall head over heels.
First impression: Yes, yes yes. I found my place.
And blimey, did I think Parisian architecture had my heart. Bordeaux’s is magical, and without a doubt Paris’ is world-class, but there’s just something « raffiné » about Toulousian architecture, despite its quirkiness. It’s almost like having the pretty face of a remote village cottage, scaled up, to the point where every twisting street, and every corner is defined through it’s own design. J’adore, j’adore, j’adore.
A migraine doubled me over on my first evening in Toulouse, so I cuddled myself up in bed and slept right through.
On Tuesday morning, I woke, showered and had a lovely simple breakfast of a chocolate crepe, two little lemon tartlets and a mandarin-flavoured herbal tea on the terrasse. It was lovely to soak up a little vitamin D before heading out at 11am, ready to explore.
Before I left, I was intrigued by a heck of a lot of shouting coming from the main road, a 30 second walk away from the apartment. It sound like a riot, but when I leaned out of my window to look (if I smoked, I would have looked as elegant as a Parisian leaning out of her bedroom window, not), I saw a march taking place, lot’s of people, flags and sirens.. Not my thing, I thought to myself. However, to get to my first destination, I had to walk alongside the march, which seemed to be unions unified (who’d have thought) campaigning about retirement. It was quite amusing to see sixty-year old conservative-looking Frenchmen and women storming the streets, oh the land where socialism runs free.
With it being May Day, i.e. first of May, it was bank holiday and almost everything bar the restaurants and a couple of coffee shops was closed. This meant the centre of the city wasn’t too busy, so it was quite nice to stroll through the main shopping streets and see the Capitole for the first time sans pressure.
I’ve never walked so much. I walked from the centre to the river, and spent some time enjoying the view both of and from Place La Daurade. From there I walked over the Pont Neuf and right around to the Hopital La Grave, resting in the public garden for a breather.
From there, I continued on down the side of the river, along the pretty bank. When I came to the next bridge I crossed it, back onto the side of the city centre. By now I was peckish, so I stopped in a boulangerie for a (gorgeous) sandwich, before heading back to the apartment, worn out.
Wednesday was a slow-starter after all of Tuesday’s walking, and my first outing was to a local boulangerie. I was able to sit in, and enjoyed a delicious tarte aux legumes* for lunch. From there, I walked into town once again and this time was able to explore the Capitole building. I couldn’t not.
And it did not disappoint. The Salle des Illustres was just incomprehensible, and I very much found my aesthetic. Someone paint my walls and ceilings and edge everything in gold leaf?
After I enjoyed the market in the Place de Capitole, I headed to the Jardin Japonais. I got a little lost on the way, when I could’ve just taken the metro, but I made it in one peace. The weather was so nice, hot but not unbearable which meant sitting on a park bench was enjoyable. At least until hunger set in. In the end I took the metro home on a whim, and was very glad I did.
I wanted a calm Thursday so headed towards les jardins, a space where I knew I would be able to relax and take in a bit more of Toulouse.
What followed was a heck of a lot of walking, a trip to the Natural History Museum and a three-course lunch! I then proceeded to get lost in the midst of cobbled streets, and decided La Ville Rose should be named La Ville Orange, considering the actual colour of the buildings.
I did, while lost, come across L’Eglise Saint-Etienne, which was structurally beautiful both inside and out. From there, I lost myself in a sea of Toulousian orange. I ended up back at the museum, to my own annoyance and disbelief, so napped in a park until I was ready to find my way back home.
Overall, Toulouse was wonderful. I would’ve liked to have made a few friends or gone with friends, however sometimes the headspace is just too good to resist. I would go back again in a heartbeat, especially when the summer sun sets in!
*vegetable tart **I love, I love, I love ***the gardens ****The Pink City / The Orange City