Saturday, November 10, 2012

Olympics & More: Exploring Toulouse: More Than Just Aerospace

Toulouse is the fifth largest City in France and the first stop in France on our great European Road Trip.  We stayed at the Pullman Toulouse Centre which is between the canal and the Jardin Pierre Goudouli, the Place du Capitole and the river.

To start our first full day in Toulouse we founda nice boulangerie for a bit of orange juice and a pain au chocolat. We then sat in the Jardin Pierre Goudouli on a nice sunny bench and reviewed the tour book and the map provided by the hotel.  We found a handful of must see locations, mapped the route and headed out.
Starting off at the Carousel in
the Jardin Pierre Goudouli.
Place du Capitole
Place due Capitole
Basilica Saint-Semin 
Winding streets of old Toulouse - reminds
me of Paris or New Orleans.
Basilica Saint Semin
Another view of the Basilica
Every French City has a Pont Neuf (Old Bridge), right?
After we walked around the city in the morning we needed a bit of lunch and we found a great little place.  Unlike our hotel, these folks didn't speak a word of English (to us) and honestly they weren't all that keen on serving us either.  The food was really great. The service wasn't rude or really bad, it was just indifferent and inattentive.  Now, I know some of you are saying "Well, that's just the French", but I completely disagree. More often than not we are greeted with great service and very friendly staff. Don't fall into the trap that all French hate Americans - it just isn't true.

Our lunch destination - quiet, unassuming, delicious

After lunch we continued our trek of "must-sees" to the Jardin du Grand-Rond.  We walked along the canal (and expressway feeder ramps).  The jardin (park/garden) was pretty empty - we were there on a weekday during holiday season though. We saw less than half dozen other people in the park - so strange.

Fountain in Jardin du Grand-Rond
A Bus, a Street Car and a Bike in flowers.


Cathedrale Saint-Etienne
Cathedrale Saint-Etienne
The real reason we visited Toulouse was to take the Airbus Factorie Tour, but we were very impressed with this great City. It blends historic charm with 21st Century amenities and industry.  I would return to Toulouse in a minute. The people were friendly, the food was fantastic, the shopping was quite nice too. Last year when we were in Paris I fell in love with shoes by John Mac Gray. Unfortunately I couldn't find a single JMG shoe in Toulouse, but did manage to buy a few pairs of Italian shoes -- same clean lines as JMG, nothing like you can find in the US.

Have you been to Toulouse?  What is your favorite part of the City?  Is your favorite part of the day when you take your first bite of pain au chocolate too?

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