Following on from our Christmas spent housesitting in Cannes in France we were eager to get back on the road to continue unplanning our travels and letting last minute choices and offers dictate where we were going to spend the next few weeks; and true to our unpredictable method of travel we soon found ourselves in the southern French city of Toulouse, somewhere we knew nothing about, but were eager to discover.
The Pink City
After again saving a huge amount of money by using Blablacar rather than taking the train, we arrived into Toulouse with the beginnings of a few ideas about the city that our car sharing driver was kind enough to share. We learned that Toulouse is often regarded to as ‘La Ville Rose‘ – which translates as ‘The Pink City‘ – due to the colours of the stone and the plaster that’s used throughout Toulouse. The architecture design of several landmark buildings of importance all have that particular red and pink hue that is really quite unique. Also, we learned a little about the history, that the city contains a couple of historically important UNESCO sites, and also that Toulouse is best to get lost in with a camera at hand. So, once we arrived we immediately left our bags and set straight about getting lost.
The Joys Of Getting Lost
Getting lost in a new location is all part of the enjoyment that we take from a new location, mostly because we read almost nothing about a town or city like Toulouse before we arrive so that we don’t have too many expectations that can so easily be broken, leaving a sour memory of a place; so even with the new information that we’d collected during our drive we’d still had no idea of where to go, what to see and just how easy the city was to navigate.
Walking into Toulouse city center we soon found ourselves amongst buildings with architecture of all shapes and sizes that have passed through and seen so much history, and as we gradually rounded one corner into another one of the many curved and irregular shaped streets that make up so many medieval towns in Europe, we found ourselves amongst the heavy beat of pedestrian traffic in one second, and totally alone in the next.
As our walking tour continued so did our admiration for Toulouse increased and as the day wore on we stopped repeatedly to point out to each other one amazing building here, stunning architecture there, or even an incredible street art piece on the boarded up entrance of an old closed down photography shop.
One of the biggest accidental architecture finds that we’re incredibly thankful for stumbling upon was the incredibly interesting Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse (Toulouse Cathedral).
Possibly one of the most unusual churches we’ve seen in mainland Europe, the architecture design is not from one plan, but rather the combining of two churches located on the same ground, neither of which were completed entirely so were pulled together by one architect to create the Toulouse Cathedral which you see today.
Once inside the front entrance you can very quickly tell that not all is as normal as it might appear on the outside and you’ll see the church dividing in the middle distance from where you stand at the doorway and the back altar.
As you’ll see in our photo collection, the interior church design is irregular and one side of the church differs in places to the identical position on the opposite side of the church, and in some cases the differences can be seen from one pillar to the next.
During the few hours we spent getting happily lost amongst the old historical streets of Toulouse we did wander underneath one particular arcade that really sticks out in the memory as the artwork that decorated the very top of the arches weren’t plain or some typical basic carved design like we’re so used to seeing in places like Bologna in Italy, but rather more modern and colourful.
And also with this being France, it wasn’t entirely unexpected but still a welcome surprise to our day to find a small shop selling the most wonderful arrangement of macarons in many combinations of dark and bright colours that we’d never thought possible before, though sadly, with our travel budget being as small as it is, the price for just one was far too high at more than almost €2 each!
We Long To Return
With just a day to enjoy the incredibly photogenic streets of Toulouse we are both so eager to return to what turned out to be one of the biggest location highlights of our few weeks travelling through France, and we’re not joking when we say that we’d love to return one day in the future to perhaps live like a local, or just to maybe meet up with some locals via Meetup.com to do a local photo walking tour of the city, something we’ve yet to try, but eager to begin doing.
Would you like to do a photo tour of Toulouse with us?