Charming French windows, ornate street lamps, medieval red brick buildings – unmistakably Toulouse!
La ville rose (or ‘the pink city’ as it is called) is located on the banks of the Garonne river. The lifeline of Toulouse, this river springs from a source in the Pyrenees, flows right through the city and ultimately, joins the Atlantic Ocean.
The La Grave hospital complex (built in the 1600s) on the banks of the Garonne river
A key landmark of Toulouse is the Canal du Midi (a UNESCO World heritage site) which connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea. This 240km long canal built in the 17th century, facilitated trade between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Today, the Canal du Midi is a popular waterway for cruises and sightseeing.
The tree-lined banks of the Canal du Midi
Toulouse is a city with character and soul. The poetry in the air is palpable. Here, ancient cathedrals co-exist harmoniously with the headquarters of the European aerospace industry.
The Basilica of St. Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site – a key stop on the Way of St. James (Santiago de Compostela), built from the 11th to the 14th century
Retired Air France Concorde F-BVFC on display at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport
A full scale model of the Ariane 5 rocket at the Cite de l’espace (City of Space) theme park
Toulouse’s recorded history goes way back to 2BC. Its magnificent churches are silent witnesses to all that has transpired over the ages.
St. Etienne’s Cathedral, built from the 13th to the 17th century
The stunning ‘palm tree’ architecture of the Jacobins Convent (built in the 13th/14th century)
Modern day Toulousians are a friendly bunch, enjoying a relaxed pace of life. Their favorite food includes gourmet specialties like the Toulouse cassoulet, Margret de canard and duck confit along with some of the finest local wines.
Margret de canard (duck breast)
No discussion about Toulouse is complete without a mention of its colorful markets.
The clothing & accessories market at the Place du Capitole square
Fresh produce market near Place St. Georges
The highlight of our time in Toulouse was spotting this rainbow crowning the 16th century Capitole building.
(Rainbow spotting has now become a regular feature with us. Remember the double rainbow in Seychelles?)
The south of France has inspired so many legendary painters (including Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse and more recently, Picasso). After my visit to Toulouse and the surrounding countryside, I finally understood why!
Adieu ma chère Toulouse! À bientôt!
Must buy: The soaps, perfumes, bonbons and other confectionaries made with touches of the violet flower. The delicate violet is the official flower of Toulouse.