Toulouse, France

Finally, after more than two years, we left the country on vacation! Although, we have traveled quite a bit in Spain and my husband has traveled for business, as a family we hadn’t since December 2019.

So crazy what the world has been through and somewhat surreal that we are back to normal.

We chose a road trip to Toulouse as our first destination. I have always wanted to visit Toulouse. I once had a French teacher who told me that she found the people of Toulouse to be so friendly, which was in stark contrast to the people of Paris.

For the record, I don’t know why, but French people seem to like me. Spanish people not so much, but I have always had good experiences with the French and found the people I met in Paris, fun and welcoming.

However, my french teacher was not wrong. The people of Toulouse and really anywhere we went in the south of France were very friendly.

To me, Toulouse is the French version of Seville. The city feels charming, with low rise flats, distinct french aesthetics, and a lot of restoration happening. The central old town is kept clean and inviting with beautiful shops, restaurants, and tourist services.

The Capitole area, the main square, was a bustle of activity as much at night as in the day.

A few things I noticed were the lack of americano coffees and the quietness…let me explain.

Saint Georges place is a well-kept square with a children’s play area and many restaurants with loads of outdoor seating. However, it was quiet?

I have never seen so many people in the same place yet so little noise. Even a few french women seated near us on the patio spoke freely and laughed, but we could hardly hear them.

So, are the French known to be quiet talkers? Toulouse, although busy with many industries is home to the French Space Agency, Air France, and Airbus. So, the city attracts many types of engineers who perhaps are not known for rowdiness? At least after college (I always heard stories that the engineering department at the Univeristy of Toronto was very party-centric) Is this perhaps the reason for such quiet speech? I don’t know.

As well, there seems to be a lack of knowledge or willingness to embrace the americano coffee. For some reason, at multiple restaurants or coffee shops, my husband was unable to get an americano.

The staff went to great lengths to encourage him to have a drip coffee or took ages to slowly drip hot water through a coffee filter and make some kind of makeshift americano…needless to say it was not the same.

When asked why they couldn’t make it with the water from the expensive coffee machine, fully available for my caffe latte coffee, there would be some excuse about it not working or why not just try the drip?

This even happened in our beloved Starbucks, the very people who introduced the Americano to the non-Italian cultured world. So, if you’re visiting the fine city of Toulouse, be warned.

MusΓ©e Aeroscopia – Interesting and informative aviation museum for the airplane lover and casual tourist out for a new experience. For the gift shop alone this aviation museum was worth the visit. I knew I would be annoyed with myself for leaving without the vintage postcards but I did manage to purchase a retro Air France poster about travel to the Antilles islands – that has yet to be framed.

Note! Do not let tired husbands and screaming, demanding children keep you from browsing and purchasing as you see fit. However, if this happens to you, there is an online shop! Though I didn’t see the postcards…link in subheading.

Jardin Japonais Pierre Baudis -Beautiful gardens in the city center. They definitely inspired future plans to go to Japan. These gardens are not big but offer a nice stroll and some much needed shade in the hot summer months.

Dining hours! Spain has long gotten a bit of attitude from its North American visitors for the seemingly late dining hours. However, once a restaurant is open they are ready to serve until at least midnight if not later. As well, if you’re going for lunch in Spain, you usually have between 1 and 4pm to make fetch happen. Not so, in France.

The lunch hour is fast! Usually from 12-2:30 is all the time you get to find a place, eat and be on your way. And dinner, although some places open as early as 6pm, many are done and dusted by 9pm!

As a Canadian, I could adapt to this schedule, but I can only imagine how the Spanish family on vacation, might wonder how their country carries the bad rap for this dining hour debacle.

This condensing of hours creates a business in the restaurants like no other. I marveled at the wait staff and how organized, and efficient they were at their jobs. One waitress pretty much single-handedly managed 20 tables inside and out while barely breaking a sweat. As a former server, who now feels overwhelmed serving one husband and one son, it was amazing to watch.

La Belle Verte – Definitely one of the highlights of our dining year. This restaurant gave upscale, culinary innovation and creativity. It’s a well known favorite on the vegan scene with unbelieveable dishes and an extensive wine list.

Also, I don’t know why but most vegan and vegetarian restaurants are not open on Mondays. It’s crazy. It’s like no one is hungry on Mondays. So, if you’re planning a short trip to Toulouse and want to hit as many vego restos as possible, don’t include Monday in your itinerary.

La Mifa – Delicious fun restaurant offering great tapas brimming with creativity, flavor, and style.

CafΓ© BrΓ»lΓ© – Cute breakfast and lunch spot with inventive takes on brunch favorites. The Banoffee pie like dessert was exquisite!

We had a really wonderful time in Toulouse and could have easily filled up another few days of site-seeing. Aside from many beautiful churches there is a Space Agency, parks, theatres, museums, and galleries. And, some great shopping malls. We decided to visit a mall as we are always curious what the locals consume.

We found this delicious coffee Jacques Vabre, La Touragnelle oils and a lot of the cosmetic products we can find in Spain but at a better price. We enjoyed our shopping mall experience so much that we will probably be in Toulouse again soon…maybe just for a quick bite at one of the restaurants we missed and some shopping!

Well, that’s about it. I don’t really know what else to say about Toulouse except that as I’m writing this my husband is already back there on a business trip.

I’d say I’m a little jealous as there is still so much to see, but I’ve been promised some more Jacques Vabre coffee and Oliviers & Co Basil-infused olive oil, so I guess I’ll be alright.

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