My day in Toulouse starts with a visit to the market halls. The market takes place every day except Mondays. Emanuelle, who is showing us around her city, explains:
There is a bar and a baker at every corner of the hall. Today it is still early in the morning, the dealers are still setting up. On Saturdays at eleven o'clock, she says, half of Toulouse is in the market halls. Fresh tapas with fish and one (or more) glasses of wine are then the order of the day here.So early in the morning we can admire the stands in peace and quiet. The market is the best in Toulouse. Known for its top quality. At the cheese stall I learn that a cheese about the size of a daler used to be the ideal snack for pilgrims. The cheese sellers have their own cellar to ripen the cheeses to perfection. Here craft and pleasure combine.
I don't even know where to look first. Fish in all variations, tapas, seafood from oysters to lobsters. Specialties from Toulouse are for example the twisted sausage and of course cassoulet, a stew with white beans.
I even see an ice cream vendor displaying his variations that look like cakes in an oversized cooling bell. Wonderful, here I could buy a little of everything. I have to try the homemade bread, there is a small bowl there. Later in the day people stand here until the exit to buy exactly this bread. For good quality, the French also accept waiting times. It is also a lively place, where people exchange ideas, greet each other warmly and have a chat.
Toulouse on your own
Toulouse with approx. 460.000 inhabitants is perfect for an individual exploration tour. From Emanuelle I get a few more tips on the way. Absolutely I should look at the two churches and of course the view of the Garonne and the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge of the city. Otherwise, she says, it's a city for discovering the little things, and it's best to do that on your own and just drift a bit. Don't look at the map, but open your eyes, everything is within walking distance.
And then she gives me a tip for lunch: a mixture of bistro and upscale gastronomy. Here I could try relatively inexpensive really upscale cuisine for lunch.
Wishing and waiting
I notice that I am received very kindly in every store. Unobtrusively asked if I needed help, a polite and respectful tone everywhere, even if you don't speak French. A Bonjour and Au-Revoir is always acknowledged with a smile. There are lots of small boutiques, galleries, cafés and antique shops. In the square de Capitole, the largest square in Toulouse, there is another special feature that I really want to try: the signs of the zodiac embedded in the ground. I should stand on my zodiac sign, says Emanuelle, and firmly make a wish. This will then come true … I am curious.