I’m French by birth, but I’ve been living in North America since 2003. I’ve noticed that most people here know very little about France outside of Paris, Normandy and Provence-Cote d’Azur. My hometown, Toulouse, is a charming city in the South West that’s worth visiting too!
Toulouse is poetically nicknamed the “Pink City” because all the buildings are made of terra cotta brick, the region’s traditional construction material. It’s the city’s unique architecture that makes Toulouse so beautiful and extraordinary, especially when the sunset bathes the city’s numerous bell towers and steeples in a warm glow.
Now that I’ve left, I realize how much I miss this city and all its cultural gems. If you have the chance to visit Toulouse, make sure you don’t miss:
A stroll through Toulouse’s the streets
After a traditional siesta, put on your comfortable walking shoes and head for the Capitole square (Place de la Capitole). It’s the town centre, its heart. Once there, you’ll feel transported to another time and you’ll want to do one thing: get lost in the alleys and winding streets of this 2,000 year-old city. Don’t forget to look up while you wander; every building, doorway, and street corner will have a remarkable detail to pique your interest. After admiring the stunning architecture of the Saint Sernin basilica, the Jacobins’ Cloister, the bridges over the Garonne river, and the Saint Etienne quarter, take a break at Saint Georges square. Sit down, relax and have an aperitif; a sacred moment for the French on vacation and the perfect way to conclude a great day.
The Victor Hugo market
What I love about French markets is that they’re local; it’s first and foremost where the residents buy their daily groceries and only a tourist attraction after the fact. There are numerous markets in Toulouse, but the nicest one offering the best products is Victor Hugo market. That’s where we bought all our ingredients for Christmas dinner or other special occasions. You’ll find a stall for everything: fishmongers, butchers, pastry chefs, caterers, produce grocers, and florists! While your taste buds will definitely thank you, the market is also a feast for the eyes. The dynamic atmosphere in this covered building is entertainment in of itself. If you don’t have access to a kitchen to take advantage of the lovely products, end your visit with a leisurely lunch at one of the market bistros- they only use the best selection from that day’s market stands.
A boat ride on the Canal du Midi (the South Canal)
Slow your pace and take a barge ride on the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO world heritage site; it’s full of locks from the 17th century, aqueducts and channels galore. Despite the fact that it cuts right through the city, the atmosphere on the canal is calm and serene; it lets you see the city from another perspective. Leaving from the Daurade Quay, you’ll delight in rare moments like navigating through a lock the old fashioned way, crossing under the Pont Neuf, discovering the Brienne Canal and the junction of the Port de l’Embouchure of the Canal du Midi.
Top off your visit with a lunch at Brasserie Flo (or “Chez Flo” as the locals call it), a coffee and a pastry at café Conté, followed by an afternoon of shopping on Croix-Baragnon street.
You’ll definitely want to visit Toulouse again!
Bon voyage, mes amis!
from our Customer Service Team