September 8, 2012


Toulouse again! Yesterday I arrived safely, though sleepless, after a flight from Logan to Boston with an couple (lovely, but extremely large) in the two seats next to mine who couldn't help but take over a measurable part of my seat. Comfortable, it wasn't. Actually sleep decently, I didn't. The short flight from London to Toulouse featured a cute, exuberant, full of energy 2-year-old in the seat immediately behind me who serenaded us with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and "look look ... " Strong lungs, he had. Adorable he was. Sleep decently, I didn't.

But I did get here safely, and Papillon (new readers: that's my bike) made it through the trip totally unscathed. Went back together like a charm and we took a little spin around Toulouse, did some last minute tasks.

I am a lucky woman: Hélène and Pierre invited me to dinner, included 2 friends of theirs, and we feasted on duck; grilled eggplant, zucchini, and peppers; delicious flatbread homemade by Hélène; fruit salad and an excellent Corbières. It was a delightful evening, all four of them so warm, and friendly, and interesting and kind...and very gracious about my mediocre language skills. But we could communicate, and had a laughter-filled evening.

Back at the hotel sometime near midnight, I set my telephone alarm for 8, and fell asleep. It rang, I hopped up, feeling much more myself, got dressed, put my watch on ... and saw that it was almost 10:00. Wanting to make a 10:30 train, I had set the alarm, but forgotten about the clock. At the train station, just before 10:30, I learned that there was no train today that had room for my bike. Room for me, but not with bike. I booked a ticket for tomorrow, so will miss one day in St. Jean de Luz.

But I gained a day in Toulouse. Wonderful how the unexpected can lead to the most delightful experiences. I headed for a corner with a beautiful view of St. Sernin Cathedral and a café with good coffee, which I've enjoyed before. But I didn't get there. By happy chance, my route took me past the city's biggest market, which I have wanted to visit since my first 2009 trip here. At home recently, I have been reading The Belly  of Paris, set mostly in Les Halles during the 1850s; today many of the sights and odors and jostling people were reminiscent of Zola's descriptions of that older market.

After that I spent the day walking the old streets, visiting Les Jacobins, where the first step into the cloisters brought immediately the smell of boxwood and a silencing of the street sounds: voices, traffic, even the musician playing a medieval stringed instrument were gone. There is grass between the boxwood now. Probably was once a garden filled with vegetables, and culinary and medicinal herbs.

Toulouse has many beautiful Renaissance hotels (which doesn't mean hotel, but a large city residence, house is too small a word, mansion seems inappropriate. I don't know a good translation.)

Here are some images from today's wanderings.

(And Helene or Pierre if you should read this. I didn't call only because I didn't want to disrupt your well-earned weekend! If it had been an emergency I would have. Thanks again so much for last night!)


  1. Too bad you're not on the bike yet (as of this post anyway), but great that you could see a bit more of Toulouse. Now hit those mountains!

    1. You are more right than you know on all counts, though the post is now stale. St. Jean de Luz today, heading inland tomorrow. The coast itself is lovely, but every beach town I've visited ...both sides of the puddle, both coasts of France... is just too much for me.


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