We had no accommodation booked for our first night in Toulouse, and as it was too late to search afar without risking divorce, so we booked into a rather bland place that had one thing to recommend it: it was right by the central Victor-Hugo Market.
An extraordinary smell woke me the next day. I described it as a mixture of 'burnt caramel, creosote, mocha and parma violets'.
My husband described it as "burnt toast".
On investigation, we found it came from the giant coffee roasting emporium opposite that backed onto the market.
Wandering dazed and tired at 6am, we found stalls of strange-shaped fungi and mushrooms, every kind of elaborate greenery and glistening vegetable. Inside the covered market, men nonchalently knocked back small and vicious looking liquers for breakfast.
In the covered precinct, rabbits and whole wild boar hung from hooks ... there were washing lines of webbed feet, duck necks, huge intestine-like coils of sausages, rich terrines ... there were counters of cheeses, chocolate, jars of cassoulet.
Upstairs on the mezzanine floor, there are several simple but excellent restaurants - or so I was told! The market is open from 6am to 1pm every day except Sundays and Mondays, so don''t do what we did and say "we'll come back, shop properly and eat there on the Monday!"
(What was the name of the bland hotel? It was so bland I can't remember, but if you want accommodation in this town info, look at my tip on Hotel des Artes. There were a number of less bland looking hotels in the Place Wilson area but they were full that night.)
A visit to the local market is always a good visit in any French town, Toulouse was no exception.
You get to find out about the local produce, usually at good prices, and you also get to meet local people.
Once a week, local merchants sells al kinds of things there (clothes, artcraft, jewelry, food, music, ...)