You should definately take a...
You should definately take a walk along the river bank, better known as Garonne. If you are the type of person that stays up until the sun comes up you will really enjoy seeing a sunrise from here. The wednesday market in Place du Capitol. There you can find everything, from old 60's vinyls to African sculptures. There is also fresh harvest vegetables and other food.
Traversez les ponts !
Ne restez pas dans le centre historique et touriste de la vieille ville, mais traversez les ponts pour aller découvrir le quartier Saint-Cyprien.
A bout du Pont Saint-Pierre, le dôme de la chapelle de l'hospice de La Grave fait briller sa coupole de cuivre au soleil du Midi. Vous entrez alors dans le quartier où vivaient ceux que les bourgeois ne voulaient pas en ville (malades, tanneurs, petits métiers divers dans un espace humide et insalubre...) Don't remain in the historic and tourist center of the old city, but cross the bridges to be going to discover the Saint-Cyprien district.
To tip of the Bridge Saint Pierre, the dome of the chapel of the hospice of La Grave made shine its dome of copper in the sun of the Midi. You enter then in the district where lived those that the bourgeoises didn't want in city (sick, tanners, small various professions in a humid and unsanitary space...)
Climbing the famous tour de...
Climbing the famous tour de france mountains 'Coll d´Aspin':1450m and 'Coll du Tourmalet':2115m wasn´t exactly a piece of cake. Is this supposed to be vacation?? I did the Tourmalet in one rush but it did take me about 1 1/2 hours to pass all 17km! I guess the pro´s could do it twice as fast.
However, after all suffering it is gives tremendous satisfaction to see the top approaching. We made it!
Foie Gras and other Faves
Excellent food. Truly "French" ambiance. NOT full of tourists -- when I had lunch here in Feb 2005 it was packed with locals. I think I may have been the only non-local in the place.
Upon our first visit in Nov 2004, there were 8 of us from all corners of the world -- 2 Australians, 1 German, 2 Swedes, 2 Danes, and 1 American. Despite that fact that none of us spoke, read, or understood French, the service was outstanding. One waitress spoke great English and was assigned to our table and really went above and beyond. We tipped her well. Everyone was satisfied with their dishes and wine and the price was not too expensive (not cheap either, but it was France, ya know.)
They had about 2 menus in English, which the waiter tried to give me when I returned for lunch in Feb 2005. However, I had been studying French and got seated and ordered wine and water, all in French. When the waiter saw me with my English/French dictionary was when he tried to give me the English menu -- I was just verifying the ingredients because I'm allergic to seafood and didn't want any excitement. He let me struggle through my whole order and was thoroughly charmed as I slaughtered his beloved language.
Another large group of us returned a couple of nights later. This time a German, 1 Aussie, 1 guy from the United Arab Emirates, and 4 Americans. One of the Americans was a typical rude American and I was almost embarrassed to be around him, but really had no control over the situation -- we're business acquaintances, nothing more. And we learned the hard way that "medium" or "medium rare" in America or Australia is more like "rare" in France -- but the waitress did not complain when 3 steaks were sent back to be cooked more thoroughly.
Desserts were wonderful too and I do remember having profiteroles on one occasion that were quite good.
And the wine was good and reasonably priced.
Like I have said elsewhere in my writings, this is my favorite restaurant in Toulouse (that is open to the public, anyways.) Foie gras de canard chaud aux raisins...en entrée 15 €...en plat 22 € -- Or, warm duck liver with sauteed grapes. I had the entree portion size which was plenty big as foie gras is quite rich.
Bookshops and 'Salons du The'
One of the great opportunities a city break to France affords, is the chance to do a bit of posing. Plenty of opportunity in Toulouse's lovely teashops. (Note the wine glasses, however, to the forefront of this picture of the charming Salon du The in Place St George!)
First visit a bookshop for that essential posing material. We found a good one by the Musee Des Augustins, and it served everyone from the casual browser through to the city's academic community. Open 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday.
I bought Bernard Du Boucheron's 'Court Serpent', a prize winning novel by this 70-year old first time author, yet to be translated into English. A gripping story of a 14th century expedition to the icy north to 'rescue' a community of Christians who have fallen into heresy.
There are numerous smaller bookshops everywhere - I'll post links here if you have a favourite.