Main image of article: Toulouse

Toulouse

Welcome to the pink city

What a gripping story that of the Cathars in the region Occitanie in the Southwest of France. Legend has it that they received donations however, the hidden treasure has not been found so far! What we know for certain is that the Cathars possessed a much more valuable gem, a pure belief. In the early 13th century, these religious dissidents who rejected the Catholic Church for its drifts launched the Albi crusade. A peace agreement was reached but, in return, the French Crown took over the County of Toulouse. Apart from the aeronautics,the pastel industry is the one that brought the region its wealth and prosperity offering a unique possibility of dying textiles blue. Last of all, the violet, an edible flower has become symbolic of Toulouse.

What a gripping story that of the Cathars in the region Occitanie in the Southwest of France

A very diverse architecture

Toulouse boasts various architectural styles: the Romanesque, the Gothic, the Renaissance… To start with, head to the Place du Capitole which was named after the Capitouls – the city governors. You can’t help being impressed by the size of this rectangular neo-classical square that hosts both the town hall and the opera house. Thus, a good option could be to cycle it and spot the Occitan cross which was engraved in the ground by Moretti during the 1994 renovation.  

Strolling under the arcades can be a good alternative too, then stop off at the Café Bibent. In Catalan it means literately “to drink well” and this establishment is said to be the first one serving some beer in Toulouse. Jean Jaurès used to write his press articles for the local newspaper “La Dépêche” in this bar. The Belle Epoque decoration has not changed from the walls covered with mirrors, or the ceiling frescoes, to the chandeliers…

The Capitole

Once there don’t forget to visit the Capitole itself- a prominent building which will remind you of Versailles. As a matter of fact, the Salle des Illustres looks like the Galerie des Glaces, opulent, ornate, sumptuous… I am guessing you want to know more about the Belle Paule. This is the nickname that was given by François Premier to the best-looking young woman in Toulouse. NB: She was asked to make a daily apparition on the town hall balcony!  

That’s why don’t hesitate to stroll along the banks of the Garonne just before sunset. This way you will get most of the “Ville Rose” named after its pinkish brick. You will admire the view on the Pont saint Pierre, that hanging bridge bordered by streetlamps that spans over 250 meters. Did you know the source of the Garonne is to be found in Spain and that it flows into the Atlantic?

The Couvent des Jacobins

Couvent des Jacobins. If you want to escape the effervescence of the city, step inside this church of the meridional Gothic. You will be blown away by its overwhelming sobriety. Thanks to the high vaulting and the stained glass that let the light in, you’ll find some serenity. By the way the remains of the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas are kept here.  

Those who are in a mood for shopping should head to the Rue de Rome. Connecting the Capitole with Esquirol this street which thongs with independent boutiques is lined with townhouses too. As a consequence, don’t be afraid to have a peek inside. Not only will you contemplate the lush vegetation or the carvings, but you will also spot some tapestries or wood-coffered ceilings.

Saint Sernin

If you are not fed up with churches, consider this Romanesque church. Saint Saturnin- so was his original name, used to be the first bishop of Toulouse and died as a martyr. Most impressive is the palm tree, an oversized column that supports the ribs of the vaulted ceiling. Together with Conques or Moissac, this basilica is a Unesco World Heritage site, and it constituted a stop for pilgrims of the Camino de Compostela. 

 François Bourgon was elected the “Meilleur ouvrier de France" in 2011. After living in Asia, he chose to relocate to his hometown, Toulouse. This top cheese refiner has a specialty, the Pavé Toulousain. Make sure you save some time to sample his products at Xavier’s -which is impossible to pronounce! The cheese shop is located Place Victor Hugo, you won’t miss the mouth-watering shopwindow!  

Saint Saturnin- so was his original name, used to be the first bishop of Toulouse and died as a martyr

Saint Cyp'

Like most cities, Toulouse is full of surprises. Under the Pont-Neuf, try to catch glimpse of James Colomina red statue called “Child with dunce cap”. Have some rest at the park or head to the Hotel Dieu- a former hospital where new-born babies were taken in. To make your visit complete, treat yourself to a hot chocolate at Cacao Fages, Place de l’estrapade.   Le Canal du Midi.  This canal that links Toulouse to the Lake of Thau on the Mediterraneandates back to 17th century when Louis XIV and Colbert ordered its construction. It revolutionized the river transportation, and it has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1996. Looking for the best

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