IMG_1793Toulouse, the pink city of the south. Pink because of the pale red bricks that dominate the architecture. A friend and I decided to brave the gilets jaunes in order to get a needed breath of city air. IMG_1768The city air has much improved since Toulouse limited so much of the center to pedestrians only. What a joy to stroll around. No crowding on the sidewalks. There’s plenty of room for those who want to stop and look in the windows and those who are in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s perfect for flâner, that quintessentially French term for strolling leisurely in town, certainly with some lèche-vitrine (literally translated as licking the windows–window shopping) along the way.IMG_1782The car-free streets have led to an explosion of bicycles. Perfect.IMG_1765So much prettiness everywhere. And since we weren’t really interested in shopping, our eyes paid more attention to the architecture. Quite a mix.IMG_1767Do you see the old tower? And the half-timbered building?IMG_1789A steeple perfectly framed by the narrow streets. (Note the rental bike dock.)IMG_1791Then there are more modern touches. Haussmann’s influence is felt down here, though the old lanes weren’t eliminated in favor of grand boulevards. There are some boulevards, to be sure, but they follow the traces of the ancient ramparts. Plenty of Belle Epoque buildings.IMG_1774I’m so glad the little lanes survived. Like the Marais  in Paris, but without the crowds. Some of the main shopping streets were noir du monde–full of people–but they never felt like a crush of humanity. And on the little side streets, we got to eavesdrop on conversations. A group of young men, I’d say in their 20s, were in a lively discussion about cheese. You would have thought they were going over a controversial call in a sports match. For several blocks, they walked just behind us, talking excitedly, while my friend and I listened and exchanged smiles. Only in France. IMG_1794We saw groups of gendarmes at nearly every intersection and square. Near the building below, we bumbled onto the assembly point for the gilets jaunes, and passed a bunch of people in T-shirts with DIY labels of “medical volunteer.” They had spritzer bottles tucked into the straps of their backpacks. I didn’t want to be around for when those would be needed.IMG_1786We managed to avoid any action. Anyway, the timing of things here works to one’s advantage. Nothing, but nothing is going to happen anywhere until after lunch, which ends at 2 p.m. Talk about sacred. Which means the yellow vests were just getting together around then and didn’t start marching or whatever until a good hour later. By then we were far away.IMG_1775I would like to live across the street from this building. Across the street so I would see it every time I looked out my windows. I’m a sucker for Art Deco and a sucker for mosaics. They don’t make buildings like they used to.IMG_1776For example the one below. It was on a narrow street, so the interiors must be terribly dark with the metal façade, which apparently can open like shutters.IMG_1796IMG_1795On the other hand, I rather liked the geometry of the building below, with the sharp zigzags contrasting with the layered cake rounds that resemble the Guggenheim in New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.IMG_1785IMG_1769I liked the repetition with the rounded columns on the Art Deco building in the foreground on the left. (More bikes!)IMG_1799We parked on one of the boulevards rather than in an underground garage, which I usually use. Another example of good city planning: two hours of parking was only €1; four hours was €2 and four hours and 45 minutes was €20. This encourages people to park for short errands and discourages the nearby office workers from leaving their cars there all day (you can’t just feed the meter, either–you have to enter your license plate number and you get a ticket that you have to leave on your dashboard.) Our feet were plenty tired before our four hours were up. IMG_1797I took so many shots that I’ll do another post with just doors and windows.

 

31 thoughts on “Day Trip to Toulouse

  1. Wonderful photos! I had no idea that Toulouse’s architecture was so interesting and varied. Another place we have to get to… life is too short.

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      1. Must ask, as am going to Toulouse in Sept, is that an American ‘quite’ or British ‘quite’? Weird totally different meanings! As a Brit that sentence means its ok, but could be so much nicer.

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        1. American. It’s much nicer than I had heard. It has a reputation of being industrial and certainly there are factories on the outskirts, but the center is lovely. You will like it!

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  2. What a gorgeous little tour you took us on and lèche-vitrine will have to become my phrase du jour! I agree, that Art Deco mosaic mural is something else…Glad you had a good time getting your dose of city.

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  3. This is a wonderful example of why I LOVE your posts – a luscious little visit to France during a 5-minute break in my working day. These are all the things I look for and take photos of, too! Thanks for making my morning:)

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    1. We try to get home by dinner time–we do daytrips. When we have lunch, it’s usually at some little place, whatever we happen to stumble on. We’ve also been to some of the places on the Place du Capitole, the main square. Usually being on a main square is a bad indicator for the quality of food, but we found them to be very old school and very delicious.

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  4. Interesting architectural mix. Thank god the French can at least agree on one thing – lunch! Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the demonstrations began at 12? I had heard that Toulouse shops were hugely impacted by the GJs. Let’s hope the movement dies down with the nicer weather!

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    1. Yes, and I had hesitated to even venture to Toulouse on a Saturday, but clearly les Toulousains have come to terms with the GJs and continue their business anyway, just moving away from wherever the GJs happen to be. Some shops had plywood over the windows, but I don’t know whether that’s preventive or because windows had been broken. Mostly, we saw no sign of them or of damage.

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  5. FASCINATING!I DID LIKE THE METAL BUILDING where the windows open like SHUTTERS!I NEVER LIKE NEW BUILDINGS but THAT I DID LIKE!I love looking UP at the buildings……….IT’s almost like you need a day just for strolling and photo taking and another for cafes and shopping!HOw far away is TOULOUSE from YOU?DID I spell that right?XX

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  6. I love Toulouse and wish I had discovered it sooner. We tend to drive to the end of the metro line and travel in that way. We have also spent a couple of weekends there, staying in Airbnb’s. It seems to be very popular with the younger generation, too. My eldest son and his friends love spending time there. It was great to appreciate another aspect of the city, through your post.

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  7. I love this town. It has a little bit of everything. I love Art Deco as well. You and I can share the apartment “across the street.” And the metal shutters! Mon Dieu! The parking meter strategy may be the smartest one I’ve heard.

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  8. There’s so much of France that I’ve never explored. Your images, like your words, are gorgeous and make me want to “flâner” as well… And if I am ever fortunate enough to make it back, I really want to discover more of the south.

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