As promised, here’s my review of Toulouse, France. Highlighted in a previous post, I spent a grand total of £32 on flights and accommodation for this trip; click here if you’re curious how!
This was a quick visit to the South Western hub that is Toulouse, landing at 7am on the Wednesday and flying back to London on the Thursday at 10pm; I was very skeptical about fitting everything in.
However, upon researching I discovered there isn’t that much to do and see. Two days was the perfect amount of time to spend in la Ville Rose. The Pink City to you and I. Coined la Ville Rose as many of the buildings in the historic city were built with pink stone.
Faced with either paying €8 to get the bus into the city centre from the airport or the €1.60 tram, we headed towards the tram stop. As we were figuring out how to buy the ticket, two people talking very fast French approached us waving bits of paper. Turns out they were leaving the city and were offering us their transport tickets which still had 24hrs on them. Perfect! We hopped on the T2 Tram which was very modern and took us to the centre in approx. 40 minutes; it runs from 06:00-00:00 daily.
We’d booked a budget, but very central, Airbnb for the night and had agreed to meet our host outside the building. Jose kindly met us earlier than he advertised on his listing and we followed him (breathless) up to the fourth floor to where the studio flat was situated. The apartment was adorable and came equipped with a fan for those hot nights (very much needed) and a cute little balcony, though the view wasn’t anything special. If you were planning on cooking a proper meal, the kitchen wasn’t really equipped for that, but he had stocked some essentials for us. Thankfully including Coffee. Overall, Jose was very accommodating and I’d highly recommend his T1 Hyper Centre Capitole apartment as a base for a Toulouse trip. If you do book Jose’s place, do say hello from me!
Toulouse itself is a very small city and if you’re able, perfectly achievable to explore completely on foot. If you Google ‘Things to do in Toulouse’, a lot of Museums will pop up in the Top 20. As we were on a budget trip, seeking sun and only had two days to explore, we chose not to visit any of them and to embrace the City as much as we could.
Pont Neuf (New Bridge) spans the River Garonne and was completed in 1632; not so new anymore! Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and definitely not to be missed. We crossed it and took refuge in Park Prairie des Filtres; very popular with groups of friends drinking wine and beer. This is something that still amazes me in European Parks,as usually the only people that drink this way in English parks are teenagers.
We had planned to visit Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants), but unfortunately they were closed for maintenance. During summer they’re usually open 07:45-21:00 daily and admission is free! Instead we found ourselves in a nearby beautiful green open space that was also a roundabout: Park Grand Rond. I actually had a really good nap here under the trees, I highly recommend to a friend.
As with all cities, there’s always a tourist hotspot. Place du Capitole (Capitol Square) is the tourist hotspot of Toulouse. Home to the City Hall and the centre of the City’s administration, it also houses an outdoor market and is lined with many restaurants and bars. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend eating at the restaurants, a tourist hotspot usually equals rip off, I would spend some time wandering around the square, taking in the beautiful architecture.
It’s a beautiful city to visit, however I wouldn’t spend more than three or four days confined to it. If you were spending longer, you could hop on a two hour train to Bordeaux for the day or make a trip to the Pyrénées Mountains, situated on the nearby French/Spanish border.
Finally, here’s my number one tip for Toulouse (and I guess for the rest of Southern France):
Do. Not. Buy. Sun-cream. In. Toulouse.
Temperatures were hitting 35ºC/95ºF, so there was no doubt we couldn’t go without. Side note: I’m ginger. According to good old Google, the average temp in July is 22ºC/72ºF, with highs of 28ºC/81ºF. Well I guess that’s global warming for ya.
In the UK, you can pick up a good sun-cream for around £6 if you look properly. We spent about an hour in Toulouse looking for sun-cream and the cheapest we came across was €25; factor 50, water resistant sunblock for infants. The cashier even questioned us as to why we were buying it. The only explanation I have for the price is that the French take their skincare very seriously; all the creams we found were luxury brands. The worst part was that we only used a quarter of the bottle and we couldn’t carry it back in our hand luggage. In future, for short sunny tips I’ll definitely be filling up a little bottle of sun-cream to take with me!
Have you been to Toulouse or want to visit? Let me know in the comments!