When there’s nothing left Toulouse: A Two Day Itinerary
The cheapest (one-way) flight I’ve taken to date was to Toulouse, France. End of summer and just a tenner on Ryanair! How lucky is that? I ended up tacking on nearby Barcelona to make that a double adventure. And as well, we did a day trip out to check Carcassonne.
Toulouse is the capital of the Occitanie region, being the fourth largest city in France. My friend Judy and I were treated to sunshine, castles and delicious French food. These are our highlights of the trip over the two days.
Toulouse City strolling
Toulouse is a city that rewards random strolls. There’s a few Kiwi-touches here and there as well, as Toulouse is a place that’s big on it’s rugby. Not that we had too many people recognise the accents.
Check the covered market of the Marché des Carmes or the Victor Huge market. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer, as well as the local artisans and craftspeople. This is France, so of course you can’t skip the wine and fromage on offer.
Churches and religious sites
Les Chalets and wider Toulouse features a large number of historical places to check out: the likes of the Chapelle des Carmélites, Notre-Dame du Taur, Cathedrale St-Etienne, Church of Les Jacobins and the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse.
The latter forms Tripadvisor’s #1 Thing to Do for Toulouse. We found these ones much less crowded than what we were used to in other cities, which is quite refreshing in itself. Most, of not all, were of free entry.
Bridges & sunsets
For a change of place cross the Pont Neuf bridge to get some good snaps of the river Garonne. The St Cyprien side of Toulouse boast a couple of worthy attractions such as Musée des Abattoirs, a museum of modern and contemporary art, the Musée de l’Histoire de la Médecine, as well as a few extra parks.
On our week there was an alternative/sustainability/ vegetarian-like festival with activities for families and market stalls which was curious and fun.
A great spot to see in the sunset is at Place Saint-Pierre, you’ll get a view of the Garonne along the bridge too. There was a freight container art installation, which was nice for a wander in. An outdoor art gallery, of sorts.
The town centre has the unmissable Place du Capitole, and that square also features seasonal activities. At our time it looked to be a mix of a local council feature. Actually, it might have been an aged living expo.
All the touristy things are close by including the tourist information centre, movie theatre, shopping mall and departments stores.
The Quai de la Daurade is a nice relaxing walk along the river to enjoy too.
Parks and recreation
The first day proved to be great for sunshine and it was ideal to head over to the Couvent des Jacobins and then on to the Japanese garden (Jardin Japonais) in the northwest. Along the way you can venture past the Canal de Brienne, a tree-lined waterway that might for a nice little shot.
The Japanese garden is spacious and features lots of traditional features to get you into that tranquil state of mind.
As always, dining in France is such a treat. Toulouse was no exception. Tasty morsels from any street boulangerie, fine dining, wine, cheese and of course, the patisserie. I most enjoyed the contemporary stylings of restaurant Les Glastag, and the clever desserts from Sandyan Patisserie.
One tip is that we did find a lot of the restaurants didn’t open until 7.30pm – 8pm so it pays to synchronise your food cycles accordingly. They don’t necessarily open too late either, so we ended up paying McDonalds a treat since there wasn’t too much else open in the late evening.
Over the summer a carnival was in town, this was a bit more out of the way, so required an Uber back and forth. We we’re dead on our feet by then anyways.
Typical fair action, but there’s lots to do and lots to see. Carnival foods, games, rides and bright lights. We had a good laugh on the water flume ride before dropping lots of tokens in one of the arcades. Whilst you’re unlikely to win anything there’s some fun here losing.
It was open ’til quite late and appeared to be a favourite with the locals so well worth spending the evening there.
A Round of Carcassonne
On our second day we decided to take the train over to nearby Carcassonne. It takes under an hour and was only €8 or so each way. Our forecast was for rain in Toulouse, but we got a slightly better result in Carcassonne. The hilltop in southern France’s Languedoc is most famous for it’s medieval citadel, La Cite which is a short walk from the station and the town centre. I also know of Carcassonne from the board game of the same name.
An afternoon was just about enough time to admire the watchtowers and double-walled fortifications of La Cite. It’s a bit of a village in itself, with churches, restaurants and shops. The citadel has a bit of history behind it with additions over the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. You get a good coverage of this in the tour.
There was a part of the citadel (well, the main part) that required a ticket, we thought it was well worth it. Oddly, the tickets were sold at the front at the tourist information centre and not at the entry. Without this paid option, you don’t get the full view of the citadel so we highly recommend it for sure.
A bit further out
Toulouse also has a number of art museums within the city, we just didn’t have enough time to check these out: Fondation Bemberg, Musee des Augustins, Musee Saint-Raymond. And there’s a couple more ideas for next time that require public transport/ taxi to get to:
- Airbus factory
- Cite de l’espace
- Casino Barriere