Between our trip to Canada in the summer, our trip back home again this December, and a few work trips thrown in for good measure there wasn’t much time to jetset. That being said, when an unexpected seat sale came our way, Chris and I couldn’t resist and found ourselves dragging our feet to the airport at 5 am on a Sunday.
Not knowing much about Toulouse, we decided to focus our attentions on a few attractions, significant time spent wandering, and the consumption of pastries. After arriving, we found our way into the city centre and ventured to the art gallery to have lunch. Les Abattoirs is a very neat modern art gallery inside of an old slaughterhouse that happens to have a highly rated café. We nabbed the last table and had a delicious lunch passing the time until we could drop off our bags at our apartment. As we were staying just down the road it was easy to run over and unpack before quickly coming back to the gallery to look around. We saw some amazing exhibits and some ever so slightly questionable ones. But that’s what makes modern art fun isn’t it?
After having our fill of art, we walked towards Pont Neuf to make our way over to the old part of the city. On the way we passed a beautiful church with booming music coming from inside. We poked our heads in only to find a brass band concert in full swing. We snuck into the back and caught a few songs at the end. When we came out of the church it was officially golden hour and the city was awash with that perfect and fleeting light. Toulouse is known as La Ville Rose (The Pink City) after the terra cotta bricks that are used in many of its buildings. It was lovely. We made our way over to a boulangerie to pick up as many pastries as we could carry, along with some canelés, one of Chris’ favourite things in the world. The delicious caramelised custard pastries were promptly eaten. We walked until we hit the Place Capitole, the centre of the city and the venue for their Christmas market. We wandered the stalls and grabbed dinner from a vendor serving all kinds of sausages on all kinds of bread. We ate our dinner walking home, admiring the view as we walked back over the bridge.
The next morning was very laid back. A new experience for me I must say. It turns out the trick to keeping me entertained in the morning when I inevitably wake up at the crack of dawn, is to have a lot of bread and pastries at hand. In search of a proper meal, we meandered to La Fiancée, a place that I had read about and did not disappoint. We had a great brunch and it set us up for what was a rather chilly day. Toulouse is a very walkable city and we had no issue finding our way around. Nothing was ever more than 20 or so minutes away and it’s a fantastic place to roam around in. We went to the Musée Des Augustins, which was beautiful and peaceful and so empty there were many moments where it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. We did some more wandering and then realised the cold was catching up with us so we hunted down some café viennois (coffee with chantillly cream which really needs to catch on in the UK). Feeling a bit more energised we had a few hours to kill before the restaurant we wanted to go to opened for dinner. We went inside the beautiful Capitole, to admire the painted ceilings and peak out at the Christmas market below. Once again traveling in the off season was a great advantage, and we had the entire halls to ourselves.
We kept continued wandering the streets of Toulouse but at this point we were beginning to feel ever so slightly wearing and chilly. Finally, it was 7 pm and the restaurant we’d planned for dinner was set to open. We made our way over early, was first in line and was politely yet promptly told immediately that there was no way we would get in without a reservation. At this point we were too chilled and too hungry to care and we quickly made our way back to the Christmas market. We grabbed some mulled wine and some aligot (a miraculous invention of potatoes, cream, cheese and garlic) and laughed over how we could have done this hours ago if only we had known. We picked up some more treats at the market and then called it a day, tired and cold, full and rather happy.
The next morning was spent exploring Victor Hugo market and the Japanese gardens. We were very lucky with the weather while we were away and, while it was chilly, the sun was shining brighter than we’d seen in weeks. Unlike yesterday’s debacle, today we were ready with reservations in hand. I had read a few recommendations for Café du Midi and it did not disappoint. All the tables were full except our little one squeezed in between the tables of gesticulating locals. We ordered our day time wine and our menu de jour and spent one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve had all year. Fully stuffed, very satisfied, and ever so slightly tipsy, we giggled our way back to the market to pick up some French soap before calling it a day.
We had a wonderful few days in Toulouse and left feeling very relaxed, very full of carbohydrates, and very happy indeed.