The Grand Capitole Square & City Hall of Toulouse
I have been living in Toulouse for about a month and a half now. After settling in and developing a bit of a routine, I've finally had some opportunities to explore this beautiful rose coloured city.
To be clear - I still order mostly in english, get lost all the time and don’t know where a lot of things are BUT I’m defiantly on my way to becoming a local - or at least resembling something similar to one!
In the time I’ve had to explore I’ve also been reading a lot, learning about this incredible city and it’s rich, vast history.
I think it’s quite kismet actually. About a year ago I decided to start mediating on a specific colour. I’m not really sure why I had that idea. At the time I had this instinct to focus on the colour rose and bring into my every day. The colour synonymous with friendship and self love. I told friends that I wanted everything in my life to be rose! Rose gold hair, rosy Instagram filters, I even asked Diane to add a new pink to the collection which she did in the form of sea pink in our new spring colours!
Let’s just say I was really feeling the vibe of this colour!
So of course, in the weird way things happen in my life, I end up moving to “Le Ville Rose” or “The Pink City”. I couldn’t help but see the humour in that and simultaneously I became fascinated by the famous colours of Toulouse. Rose being one of them.
The ever glowing pink brick which gives Toulouse it's nickname "La Ville Rose"
Interesting facts: It seems no matter which century a building was created here, it will always be decked with rose brick. The colour can vary from a light pink, to coral or a rosy russet. Regardless, you will find it adorning every building here. Old and new.
These alluring pink hues are produced in clay from the flood-plain of the Garonne River (the major river running through Toulouse) that is rich in iron. A local resource that has been excavated for centuries to create brick, it is similar to the terracotta clay we see in pottery and sculptures.
As travellers, I feel it’s our duty to learn about this history of the places we visit, which is why something as simple as brick is so important to this region. A fine balance of the old and the new is how I like to take in any new city!
So now that we know a few fun facts (and believe me - that's just the tip of the iceberg) the bigger question is - What to do in Toulouse?
Well I’ve got you sorted! Here’s a list of a few great places to get you started on you Toulouse Adventure.
As a wannabe local, I considered only giving the Capitole Square an honourable mention in this post. Since everyone who lives here knows it like that back of their hand. However, I realized if I was traveling here, this would be the first thing I would want to know about! The Capitole is most defiantly the main vein for travellers and locals alike.
A must while checking out this square is an actual peak inside the Capitole city hall building itself. To many of us North Americans, a city hall is a place where you stand in lines trying to renew this, that and the other thing. I’m sure that exists in Toulouse’s city hall as well but If you’re up for taking a stroll around you’ll quickly discover some hidden treasures!
Though the structure was modernized during the 20th century, the original building was erected in 1190 and to this day you can still discover parts of the building that remain from as far back as the 16th century.
A short stroll past the gates you’ll come to a beautiful part of the building. A grande marble staircase filled with medieval paintings leads you up to picturesque art galleries representing Toulouse in all its vast, historical glory.
Le Salle Henri Martin is a space dedicated to the famous Toulouse artist. Featuring beautiful images capturing the four seasons and famous locals it’s a true depiction of the city's history. The connecting hall is the ever epic Salle des Illustres. Paintings and sculptures in this hall represent the history of Toulouse’s great sons of art, sciences and government. This room is also used for weddings…which...you know…I’m keeping in mind (shhh!).
Finally the first room which is actually my favourite is the the Salle Gervais, filled with paintings by another great painter from Toulouse, Jean Louis Paul Gervais. The paintings in this room are dedicated to love and romance. In a country known for romance, I have to say that these are my favorite by far. His work can be found all over France including Paris, Nice and even in the Monaco Casino.
Right: The immaculate painting of Paul Gervais
Left: There's not much air conditioning in these places. Luckily I managed to slip my travel tube off and wear my one-4-all top as a dress!
The Capitole square is the centre of many major happenings in the city. The area itself was originally excavated by the Romans and built around the city hall (or Capitole). Though centuries have passed since then, Toulouse has kept the square as a focal point and modernized it as the city developed.
Complete with daily markets and string of cafes excellent for people watching, it’s a great place to start and then follow one of the many cobble stone streets that reveal great little stores, patisseries, bistros and more.
And guess what?! I live on one of those little cobble stone streets! Haha That’s still really exciting to me!
Since I’ve lived in Toulouse I’ve discovered random afternoon and early evening strolls are a must-do in this city. For a place that is as busy and vibrant as any other city in the world, it has SO MUCH green space. Not just any kind of green space though, try absolutely stunning green spaces. One of my favourites being the Japanese Garden.
A pink one-4-all top is my ideal go-to top to explore the pink city! I can take it from the Capitole to one of the fabulous gardens with ease. I couldn't help but play around as I got my zen on in the Japanese Garden. After all, it was SO hot out!
As the garden is right around the corner from me, my curiosity got the best of me one afternoon and was I pleasantly surprised. Here in the thick of the city I found a beautiful park complete with bamboo, Buddhas, a full sized koi pond and bonsai garden.
I just had to share this..because it's a cat, a turtle and a koi....Does that not just blow your mind?!
The perfect place to get you zen on. I absolutely love this garden. I also discovered many beautiful flowers and trees growing throughout. Including my favourite - Magnolia trees!
The Victor Hugo Market has a bit of a reputation when it comes to food and markets in France. After a visit I can completely see why.
In Toulouse, if you want to try a local saucisson, the best fresh baked baguettes, wine from the region, or the yummiest cheese (which I know you do!) you want to visit Victor Hugo and there's a few fun ways you can go about it!
You can a) go pick up some delicious produce and play at home. Or b) find your way upstairs where there is an excellent selection of restaurants (with baloney patios I might add). Each restaurant uses fresh ingredients from the market below so you know it’s gotta be good!
Or c) you can do a bit of both. Which is obviously what we voted for! Some of the places within the market offer some tasty wine and tapas! Ah yes, I said it. Tapas. And not just any kind of tapas, french tapas! Thank you very much Basque region!
It cost us about 10 euros for our Tapas with wine and 6 euros for freshly shucked oysters with wine! YUM!
I am so excited about this place! My newest discovery in Toulouse. Just two sort euro blocks down the street from me lives this dreamy tea salon, Salon D'Eugénie.
Iconic imagery of the French always shows coffee and cafes but from what I tell the people of Toulouse really love their tea. And why shouldn’t they? Tea is the best but do you know what’s even better? Tea with cakes. You know what’s even better then that? Tea with THESE cakes.
A layer of locally famous basque cake on the bottom, followed by raspberry preserve, a light layer of cream, topped with Italian meringue, fired sugar glaze and drizzled with raspberry sauce. All made in house. *jaw drop*
I’ve found a few great tea shops since I’ve been here but little did I know my favourite would be just down the road. This could be dangerous. Actually this is dangerous…especially since Mickael and I both have a sweet tooth!
Take a look at their instagram you may want to immediately book a flight here though. Don’t worry, if you do, you can stay with me ;)
What can I say about this place really? Can I just live in your kitchen? I’ll work for cake.
One of the first things I noticed when we moved here was this canal. An abundance of tall, shady trees line the canal and give a feeling of the woods in the middle of the city.
I often take our dog for walks here just to enjoy the energy of it. Little did I know where I was or the major history it has!
I had no idea it was Canal du Midi until goggle maps told me so. What I also didn’t know is that it is actually one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites (the second being Saint Sernin basilica) here in Toulouse!
Um. I live in a city with TWO UNESCO World Heritage sites!!! And they are both literally down the road from me. That’s so cool!
The canal is admired as one of the great engineering feats of the 17th century. Running 360km long it connects the Garonne river to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean.
Canal du Midi is currently one of the two canals in Europe being used for river transportation to date.
It also acts as another great green escape in the city. Sure, I walk my golden retriever after eating all that cake there, but all jokes aside, it feels pretty incredible to walk a path of history on this canal.
the land of pink brick, peaceful green-scapes, incredible food, cakes and wines.
A place that is 2 hours from the mountains, 4 hours from Spain and 1.5 hours from Mediterranean beaches.
The gateway to the south and a perfect french city with a small town feel!
I’m so very excited to be living here and documenting my adventures as I discover Europe. Expect lots more as I discover my new city and surrounding area.
Also keep an eye out for the official launch of my new travel blog coming this summer…
Oh and a trip to Italy is coming soon too!
Until we meet again!
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