Out to lunch in Toulouse
In 2008, Seth Sherwood wrote a New York Times 36 Hours in Story about Toulouse:
IF Paris is the capital of France, Toulouse is the nation’s campus. With three major universities and a thriving high-tech center, including the headquarters of Airbus, France’s fourth-largest city hums with inventiveness and creativity. Under its medieval church spires, the spider web of cobblestone lanes brims with art museums, theaters, upstart fashion boutiques, all-hours night life and an expanding bevy of fine restaurants serving everything from haute cuisine to hearty cassoulet. And thanks to its location in France’s sunny southwest — closer to Barcelona than Paris — Toulouse is suffused with a laid-back Latin vibe. No wonder “La Ville Rose,” so named for the dusty rose-hued bricks in many of its old edifices, is France’s fastest-growing city.
It was our first stop after our two weeks on the Way of St Jaques, our Camino hike from Le Puy to Figeac.
And we loved it. The pop Almovedar vibe, the thrift shores, the high and low of the streets and junk shops in contrast with the "the 16th-century exterior of the Fondation Bemberg that Sherwood wrote about in the Times. The art was terrific. But so was the street life.
Arriving, we walked from the train station. This was going to be a multicultural city, not a sleepy hamlet, lost in time as we'd explored over the last few weeks. Its actually quite jarring to leave the fairy tale world of the Camino to go back to the modern time and pace of the city.
But Toullouse felt familiar, a space i'd seen in countless French movies, its pop culture inspired Rue Cujas, in central Toulouse, where we were staying near the Capitole, was super fun. The girls love their post Camino journeys back into modern sensibilities. But it is never simple. It can be too much. But the thrift stores here were like a work of art.
So we got settled and wandered off to explore the streets, dig through the thrift stores, eat Cassoulet, and enjoy our time together.
The next day we explored the Fondation Bemberg and the Canal, enjoying some ethnic food. By dinner time, everyone was tired. So we wandered, taking in the view of the St.-Sernin Basilica , the city's 12th century basilica and listened to jazz. French gypsy jazz is like nothing else. The sun began to set and music filled the air. Families played with their kids; people snapped their fingers, and cool guitarists strummed their jazz.
Its going to be a wild few weeks. Today, we're off to Vienna. More soon. Merci France.
Two days in Toullouse with my buddies.