"The Rose City" Toulouse by mikey_e
Toulouse Travel Guide: 636 reviews and 1,396 photos
In choosing destinations for my "retravelling childhood trips" tour, Toulouse was high on my list. As a big city, I figured that it would have a fair amount of attractions that I had not seen or didn't remember (not always the case when considering smaller towns and city, especially those that are not as dynamic as Toulouse). Furthermore, Toulouse is a big university city, and as such I figured that it would have a heavy accent on youth and alternative culture. I gathered that youth and alternative culture would be quite different from what I was used to in Toronto - not least because part of hipster culture involves pretending you're French - and my preposition was pleasantly confirmed. I found a metropolis that, cushioned from both heavy industry and finance, was impregnated by the liberal arts and cultural industries - a welcome change for a Canadian.
I arrived in Toulouse from Puigcerdà, which I think requires a bit of explanation. The trip is not at all easy, as there are several options and none of them is easy. When I was in Puigcerdà, the rail connection between Ribes de Freser and Tor de Carol was not running, so you had to rely on bus service that was as convenient or comfortable as the train. I opted instead to walk (partly in the rain) to Bourg-Madame in France, and to take a coach for 10 minutes to Tor de Carol, where I spent a 2.5 hour wait in the train station (with no bar or restaurant) until the slow train to Toulouse. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, when I arrived in the Rose City and had to hike for another 20 minutes with my luggage to the centre, but it turned out to be entirely worth it.
Regardless of whether your arrival is smooth or bumpy, and whether this is your first or a return trip to Toulouse, there is always something to do. I slightly overextended myself over the four days I spent in the city, not least because one of those days was the first Sunday in August, when all museums in the city were free. Toulouse abounds in museums, art galleries and other exhibition sites, some of them absolutely unique in either their content or their set up - or both. I had the pleasure, in the span of one weekend, to go from a mediaeval cloister to a Turkish-inspired Egyptian villa, with no shortage of traditional and modern French architecture in between. Best of all, my experience was enhanced by the delightfully pleasant and friendly people in the city, including everyone from the hotel staff, to the restauranteurs to the people who worked in the museums and galleries. And not to mention the heavenly bookstores!
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