One of the many, and certainly one of the best highlights of visiting France this past summer was finally meeting anyport member Bjd. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Toulouse was the first stop on our jaunt through the south of France, so I was most excited to be there. The long summer evenings meant there was light until quite late. Even though it was almost 9:30 at night, I set out to see what I could of the town as soon as I threw my bags down in the hotel room. The air was balmy and humid and everything looked and felt different from Paris -- the south!
Our hotel was across from the train station & the pictures above are from the street leading away from the station, so not the ritziest part of town. The street specialized in strange cheap viands. I recognized some of the names, but not the items they claimed to be ~
What the heck .........
Even at this hour the streets and especially the plazas were full of people -- families, dating couples, kids playing. There was a definite Mediterranean feel to it all. Alas, it was getting too dark to take pictures ~
Some businesses on the way back to the hotel, one sporting the name of an anyporter ~
I remember your saying that you had gone to look at the city after you arrived. Indeed you go from near-the-train-station grungy to the central square of Toulouse in a short walk. Looking forward to more -- it's always fun to see places you know, and rarely pay attention to, through the eyes of others.
I agree that we all see different things. Apart from the main squares, monuments and churches our eyes all drawn to all sorts of different things. And I see that you discovered "un tacos" and the weird thing that it is even before I started noticing them everywhere in Paris.
I do have a theory about the spread of this thing though. There is some sort of franchise/fast food/restaurant trade show in Paris every year obviously, and these hot pocket items must have been presented at one of them -- and they do indeed look like a perfectly acceptable idea for fast food. The only problem was the terminology of the company making the forming machine, who probably said "eez ze latest theeng from America, where it is called a tacos."
I see that the balconies of Toulouse are much lacier than the ones in Paris. That is something that I should have noticed, and I did but only in the idea "not Haussmannian."
I was only briefly in Toulouse, but really liked the feeling of it. I'd have been more inclined to opt for a kebab than one of those strange distinctly non-tacoid things. I've had bad USian tacos from Taco Bell, forget where, somewhere there was nothing better to eat, but they did sort-of look like tacos.
I don't think I've ever seen such a spelling of "strip club".
... and here is the town, where live all the people ~
Note that the smaller plaque is written in Occitan.
The frescoes date from 1180. They weren't discovered until the 1970s, when Viollet-le-Duc's modifications of a century earlier were undone and the church returned to its original medieval appearance. information from this excellent source
Bixa, in case nobody mentions it either because it passes them by or are not aware of it in the first place, I appreciate the existence and cleverness of the "Here is the church, here is the steeple ..." reference. Just so you know it didn't totally slip through unnoticed.
It's good to see these church frescoes in close-up. Since the churches are usually quite dark inside, they are hard to see properly. Last night I had a look through htmb's thread from last year. Funny how you both zeroed in on the food at the market, especially the tomatoes.
That Marché Crystal is in fact one of the cheapest markets in Toulouse. It was just the beginning of local tomato season then, but indeed, I pay less for fancy tomatoes at my local market. The apricots were "normal" prices, and I remember seeing some for over 7€ at a street market in Vincennes. So food is not cheap in France.
Ahh, Mark ~ I might have guessed that the reference would resonate in your poetic bosom. Thanks for noticing!
You too, Bjd -- you too!
I do wish the fresco pictures had come out clearer, but it's true that it's easier to see them in photos.
Those tomatoes were gorgeous and it was a thrill to see so many different heirloom types. The pictures were taken on July 7, which I suppose is early season in that part of the world.
Yes, the prices were high by my standards too, LaGatta, but look at the high standard of the produce. Really, each & every piece appears to be perfect -- "picture-perfect", as I think my compulsive portraits of them prove.
And yeah -- apricots, are expensive everywhere, probably because if you so much as glance at them harshly they will bruise.
More pleasant strolling through a very pleasant city ~
Knock-out Art Nouveau. I love the way the warm natural color of the local brick is picked up on the woodwork here. I read somewhere that the distinctive color of the Toulouse bricks is because of the high iron content in the clay. It's certain a rich rusty red ~
And here we go down yet another street beautifully framing a church at the end. Yes, we will be visiting this church, although I realize that so far the thread has been church heavy. But I'm showing things in the order I was treated to them, which was just perfect. Remember we were strolling and yakking and stopping for lunch (at the lovely cafeteria in the museum -- delightful! There is much more to show, most of it church-free.
We're approaching the Church of the Jacobins, a medieval French nickname for the Dominican Order, which in 1230 constructed the small original of this church in order to preach against Catharism.
Eternal gratitude to Bjd who caught sight of the thoroughly modern monk & nudged me so I could capture him ~
Lovely! I'd love to have a longer stay in Toulouse; I was really there just overnight, and then again changing trains - I had a ticket to Amsterdam via Brussels and couldn't land in Belgium because I think they wanted a year left on my passport (which nobody had told me) so I had to be rerouted through Toulouse and cross most of France (and of course, Belgium) by railway to get there for the job I was doing. The morning light was so beautiful though, and the Toulouse customs and immigration agents so relaxed (this was before the Toulouse terror attacks).
Oh my, Lagatta -- that is the real thing of a "you can't get there from here" story! It would be lovely to meet up in Toulouse. It's the sort of place that would be ideal to spend a leisurely few days exploring.
If you took notice of the rougher water in the last picture above, that is the Bazacle -- what I believe is also called a weir. It was originally a natural ford, where a low dam was built in 1190 to power adjacent mills. A hydroelectric power station was built in 1890 on the same spot to supply Toulouse's electricity. It is now run by Électricité de France, which allows tours of the facility.
Higher Institute Des Arts De Toulouse - Department Beaux-Arts
Me too -- I am seeing a lot of new things. One of the best things about Toulouse is that it looks gently worn down by the centuries. I hope they don't do too many renovations to make the buildings look brand new again.
Thanks so much for that, Bjd. This thread is bringing back very pleasant memories for me as well. Again I want to thank you for your incredibly open gifts of time and hospitality.
Kerouac, you too. I was thinking today of all the planning and driving you did and always, always in good spirits. "Gently worn down" is the perfect description -- Toulouse sits there in the southern sunshine, gracefully mellowing.
In fact, here are a couple more examples, still over by the river. Note the half-timbering and the herringbone brick pattern in the first picture. In the second, I like the juxtaposition of the naturally aging building and the nicely re-plastered ones.
The park by the Muséum de Toulouse. There be dragons!
A dream of timeless French summer afternoons ~
The Canal de Garonne > the Canal du Midi. See discussion below. Replies 18--22.
I simply cannot remember the name of this institute, nor the interesting story behind the building. Bjd? Click here for Bjd's answer. It had a small but lovely garden with some plants that made me feel at home. We were intrigued by the plant with the blue fruit ~
And just another example of Toulouse architecture to close out this section of the thread. Coming up ~ The next day Bjd drove us through the countryside and we visited some surrounding towns.
I always thought the whole thing was just called the Canal du Midi, Bixa, but I looked it up and saw that Toulouse is where the Canal de Garonne becomes the Canal du Midi. Now somebody needs to look up exactly where in Toulouse that it changes name.
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2020 0:05:30 GMT by bixaorellana: replace smiley
Well -- Canal de Garonne (aka Canal Latéral de Garonne) seems to start after Toulouse and run towards Bordeaux, ending at Castets-en-Dorthe, near Langon. There is also a small branch of canal in Toulouse called Canal de Brienne,and, the whole thing is sometimes called Canal des Deux Mers (two seas). However, in general, people just call it the Canal du Midi.
From a cycling map of the Canal de Garonne, it seems to change name at the train station in Toulouse.
After a long and enjoyable day seeing the sights of old Toulouse and partaking of Bjd's hospitality, we retired looking forward to the more rural charms of the following day.
Bjd picked us up in the car and we set off. First stop, the medieval beauty of Rabastens-sur-Tarn.
Taken in the parking lot. Like most non-French people, I am transfixed by the odd custom of pollarding ~
This church is Notre Dame du Bourg. Founded in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in 1230 to serve as the parish church at the request of the Dominican inquisitors. (The Inquisition was attempting to crush Catharism.) Notre Dame du Bourg is built in the same gothique méridional style as Notre Dame du Tour in Toulouse, shown earlier in this thread. Possibly the most impressive feature consists of the magnificent 13th century murals which were discovered and restored in the mid-19th century.
Under and around the arches on the arcaded main square, Place Paul Saissac ~
Notre Dame de la Jonquière, built in the 13--14th centuries ~
All good things must end, so we wend our way out of town ~
After Lisle-sur-Tarn we visited Albi, where Bjd once again enriched the experience with her comments on history. She also drew my attention to salient features in the magnificently overwhelming cathedral there, which I covered in this thread. Endless thanks to Bjd for her company and her huge generosity with friendship, time, energy, and driving.
I leave you with our first and last sight of Toulouse, a place that warrants much more time and attention ~
The South of France has its particular charms doesn't it? The kebab guy is like at least half way to making proper tacos al pastor, I'll bet he doesn't even know it. I had no idea we had "Streap Club" as a member, could you perhaps make a discreet introduction in exchange for for a small gratuity? Those heirloom tomatoes may be expensive, but they're cheaper than the California ones usually are here. The architecture and the setting on the river are outstanding. The one art nouveau facade is jaw dropping, and I love the bridges.
I've been looking at Toulouse and environs as worthy of visiting for years, and this beautiful report has only increased my interest.
In my ignorant way, whenever people said "the south of France" I always envisioned something either impossibly glamorous and in a bygone age -- the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys enjoying an endless lunch on the lawn of a beautiful villa; or something vulgar and repellent -- too many bronzed bodies steaming in their coats of suntan lotion on a crowded beach. Even after doing some reading before the trip, I thought it might be all villages and monuments overrun with tourists and cutesy shops.
You obviously had more of a handle on the delightful reality and appeal of the area, Fumobici!
Ha ha ~ Streap Club keeps getting banned for spamming the forum with coupons for Two'fer Tuesday and Ladies Night, so you'll have to save your store of crisp dollar bills for something else.
Re: tacos al pastor ~ your fun fact for the day: tacos al pastor get their name from the Lebanese who settled in Mexico and introduced the vertical spit way of cooking meat. Since "everyone knows" that anyone from that part of the world is a shepherd, the tacos made on the Lebanese spit are "shepherd-style tacos / tacos al pastor".