I don’t know about you but I love France! I went to a francophone school so we can say that french culture is in my DNA now, and that’s why I get very enthusiastic when I have the chance to awaken this part of my brain. Toulouse is a beautiful city at the southwest France, the 4th largest city in the country but not a touristic destination which adds at her charm. My sister lives there with her boyfriend so we decided with G. to visit them at the end of May and explore this part of France as possible. And it was marvelous!
Toulouse is a quiet yet full of life city, with the river Garonne (it runs through the southwest France and northern Spain) make her even more beautiful. People have a quality life there, you can tell by just walking at the streets, see them using the public spaces, sitting at the banks of the river, using the bicycle a lot and having fun at the cutest little cafe-bars. It was raining some of the days but it didn’t stop us from exploring. They call her the red city because of the red stones at the building facades all over and in combination with the greenery create a nice scenery. The perfect scenery to have a quality time for vacation, drinking wine and eating french delicacies!
So, our first acquaintance with the city was my sisters house. She lives with her boyfriend at a small but very sweet apartment. From the photo group above you can see her kitchen only because all the rest of the house was covered with our luggage. We spent 1 night there, then we left for a 2 days trip to Bordeaux and St.Emilion (I will dedicate another post about them) and returned to Toulouse where we stayed at a beautiful airbnb apartment at the city center, old house with wooden floors, 3m high windows and totally downtown.
My favorite part of the first days was the breakfast we had at T’s apartment, with real treasures from the neighborhood’s bakery. You should know that i absolutely love french croissant with my coffee!!! I think if I was living there I would make this bakery super rich. Croissants, pain au chocolat, cinnamon rolls and of course fresh baguette with french cheeses etc. Really, I couldn’t ask for more.
Strolling around the city you can see a bunch of beautiful places, of course there is a carousel at a square, and when you feel tired you can sit for a beer or a glass of wine at lovely cafes.
Unfortunately I didn’t took any photos from the coolest restaurant we went, Chez Navarre, with classic occitan cuisine, with a serving system to remember. There were large tables full of starters from which you can choose whatever you want. When you feel ready you serve yourself from a table with few main dishes (we were lucky that they had duck that day) and at the end you go to another table with the sweets and cheeses. The interior of the restaurant was very authentic, an old building with wooden structure and bricks creating an imposing atmosphere. The only problem was that because of this free serving system you could eat until you die as we almost did…
The center of Toulouse is quite small so you can move by walking as you pass through nice buildings and squares. The days that the weather was good we walked a lot and we had the chance to get used with the city easily. There are old, beautiful buildings everywhere!
We weren’t so much interested for museums etc and we were more free on Sunday&Monday that they were all closed. So the only sightseeing we visited was the church of St.Jacobin, southern gothic style, constructed entirely of brick.
One of the highlights of our visit in Toulouse was the market of V.Hugo. It’s a pity that in Greece we don’t have such places where you can buy fresh products and also taste in the same area their delicacies, drink a quick glass of wine and really enjoy your shopping time. As you can guess we did all these (well, almost)!
It was amazing how many delicatessen products were gathered there. Separated the meet market from the fish market, the unnumerable cheeses, foie gras, magret, sausages etc. However, the best part was when we sat for fresh oysters and shrimps with wine at 11 o’clock! It was delicious, the best way to start your day in vacations! It closes at 13.00 though so you should go early if you want to have time.
G was late and missed that part with the oysters so when he came at the market we sat for a quick glass of wine at the shops on the groundfloor and afterwards we went at the 1st floor where there are restaurants to have lunch. All cooked with products of the market downstairs of course. There is a lot of people so maybe you should go early there too, but we were lucky and found a place. We tasted foie gras and other parts of duck, fish tartar among others and finish our gourmet lunch in happiness!
After this amazing morning-lunch we went to the Grand Rond park to have some leisure time. We played a Finnish game, named mölkky that kept us busy for a long time. It was super fun and I was the worst player of the 4, even though I did had a victory!
This park is next to another park, creating a large green area perfect for Sundays, where there are free chickens and other domestic animals. So strange…imagine laying on the grass, reading a book and see a chicken passing by…
In general, we had a really great time, we spoke in french, we enjoyed so much the food and the wines, we tasted so many french appellations and learn a bit more about wine, we went for shopping in vintage stores that I love (G. found a geek source of retro arcade games and comic book stores that made him craaazy) and so much more. We enjoyed the city in general, and I must say that Toulouse is definitely worth visiting!