Into France!

Trip Start May 03, 2009
Trip End Dec 22, 2009

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Where I stayed
Residence Jolimont

Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Toulouse?  I have no idea why I selected this place to visit.*  I must have read a book about it a long time ago, and it stuck in my head.  After I arrived, I was struck by the number of tourist sites available:  Aérospatiale, the national Space Center, the European shuttle
program, the leading aeronautical schools, the  manufacturing facility of the airbus, the Canal du Midi, which is a canal built in 1667 to connect the Atlantic with the Med via the Garonne River and more. 

Like many of the major cities, Toulouse is also located on a river, the Garonne which connects Toulouse to the Med.  It is with this river that the Canal connects to the Atlantic, short cutting the trip around Spain and thru Gilbratrar.  The building of this canal makes for very interesting reading.

When I got off the bus from Barcelona, I was totally confused; I had not done my homework well enough, and had anticipated getting help, or at least a map, from the info center in the bus station.  Wrong!  The gal at the info desk was only there for bus info, and only spoke French.  My Spanish did me nothing!  She kept saying "Marengo", and I had no idea what that meant.  I went outside to get a cab, when all else fails....but, I couldn't connect with them either.  I walked around a bit, found the train station right next to the bus station, and looked for tourist info there.  But no help.  I couldn't find an internet cafe, or anything!  Finally, I spied a hotel across the street, went in, and paid my 40$.  (My hostel was about 10$).  So, I dumped my stuff, found an internet cafe, and located the hostel.  Which was located about 1/2 mile from the train station.  There is embedded in the train station, the metro, which led right to my hostel, the first stop. 

I did learn an expensive and important lesson from all of this: do your homework the night before you leave the hostel, or wherever.  Know where you are going and how to get there, in detail, the next day!

So, after spending the night in the first hotel forever (South America??), I returned to the train station metro, jumped on, and went my 1 stop, got off, and: Lo and Behold: there it sat.  My hostel.  So, I booked in, paid my $, got my dorm room, and dumped my stuff.  Off to see the city.

Actually, I had no idea before my arrival of the many tourist events in this city, or even why I selected this city to visit as I mentioned before.*  Even though it is a bad photo, I have shown you a picture of a tourist guide of the city to demonstrate the huge array of tourist sights available.  I was so impressed with this map that I bought a tourist card (my one and only, I believe) so I could get a discount on my anticipated museum visits, etc.  I even made a list of the sights I wanted to visit, because I had to visit quite a few to come out ahead on the tourist card, and I wanted to make a walk(s) that would include as many sights as possible at once.  My own walking tour(s), as it were.

Many of the main sights and landmarks in Toulouse lie around the Place du Capitole, the city's main public square, such as the City Hall (Le Capitole), which was built in the mid-18th century and contains one of the country's most prestigious opera venues, the Théâtre Nationale du Capitole.  Le Capitole had been built in the 18the century known in the 18th century as the Place Royale; later called the Place de la Liberte, then, finally, their Place du Capitole (town hall).  So, this magnificent building has had a long history.  I show a photo of the tourist map, just to give you the flavor of the size and scope of the square.

Looking towards the entry, one sees the Capitole, or the city hall itself.  As you can see,  there is an entry gate, through which a person walks to pass into the square.  Shortly after, there is the Donjon du Capitole, or the tower which now houses the tourist information, where I bought my tourist card.  This is located at the edge of the Chas de Galle Square, which is a very lively place.

I did visit quit a few museums and such, but the exhibit that carried me away, obvious by the number of photos, was the musee des Augustin, where I fell in love with gargolys.  The howling ones were my favorite, although the one on the sculpted woman was also exceptional.  I took a lot of pictures inside the museums other than gargoyles, but I haven't included them.

I don't show pictures of the cathedral, I believe I was overloaded with cathedrals from Spain.

The river, the Garonne, and the canal were wonderful places to take a stroll and just people watch.  I never did find any of the locks for the canal, and I wasn't even aware of the canal.  But it does have very interesting history.

*  Oh yes, I remember now about Toulouse and why I wanted to come here.  See the next entry.

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