I recently had a big birthday, as one does if one lives long enough. I had big ideas for where to go and what to do, and yet nothing was quite working out. As the day approached with no plans made, we threw in the towel and said screw it, we’re going to Toulouse. We’d been there before, but only for a couple of overnights on the way to someplace else, and we liked it well enough. It’s only a couple of hours from Montpellier. Not the kind of wow you’d want for such an occasion, but damn good enough.

We woke up ready to go and tackle that town. But when I turned my phone on, I got the notification that travelers dread: our train, and indeed all trains were canceled for the next few days. Something something, freight accident in Carcassonne. Damn. Now I really wanted to go to Toulouse, damnit! But the birthday gods smiled, and a shockingly inexpensive car rental was to be had. Whee! Road trip!

We arrived late and had a dinner of canned cassoulet that we had picked up at a gas station. But lest you feel too sorry for us, know that said gas station was in the town of Castelnaudary, where cassoulet was invented in the 1300s. It was excellent.

Toulouse is known as la ville rose, the pink city, because most buildings are made with the local brick.

It’s also the city of towers, and you’ll see them poking out everywhere you look.

But there’s also some fine art deco

And art nouveau

Toulouse has everything I like in a place. Lots of history to learn, lots to look at, lots to do, lots of nice things to eat. Before we’d arrived, we were wondering if 10 days was going to be too long. Um, no.

There’s a nicely asymmetric basilica.

And a Japanese garden

A museum of woodworking

And one of precious objects

Medieval spoons!

The natural history museum is more modern than I like. I like the dank old kind that remind you of the curiosity cabinets that were the status symbol of the Renaissance gentleman. But any natural history museum is better than none.

When we travel to bigger cities, we don’t seek out fine French dining. Oh no no no, we want what we can’t get at home, Asian food! We spent our whole time eating home made Japansese and Chinese noodles and dumplings.

…with a madelaine chaser. Toulouse has a bakery called Mr. Madelaine, that was nothing but.

I could go on and on. We walked around absolutely smitten with the place.

We also did some fine day trips that perhaps I’ll get around to writing about. But Spain is calling, and I must go. Till next time, from Cordoba!




      1. Glad you met one of the most significant cities in France! From the Canal du Midi to
        St. Sernin Basilica to golly, so many sites and schools and their Place Capitole…it just goes on and on. I wish I had been there with you.
        I think that Toulouse is so fascinating. I could not imagine a better place in which to get lost outside of Paris! Happy __th, merry christmas and safe travels! We are in NYC for the holidays, returning to Chicago Sunday, weather permitting. XO


      2. I really could have gone on and on, but I was worried about being even more long-winded than usual. One of the best things we found was a shop selling stunning bonzai, plus they would take them back as boarders when their clients traveled!

        Bon voyage, bon retour, and hope to see you on this side of the pond one day!


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