Toulouse! (translation: you lose!)

Toulouse Travel Blog

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Paris had me burnt out. There are only so many sights one can see before seeing anything else becomes tedious, and I definitely hit that point. And there are only so many kilometres you can walk before you become fed up with a city and all its old-world wonder. I figured a visit to Toulouse would have me ready to see the rest of Europe again, and it sure worked wonders.

I stayed with the B's: Jacques, Monique, and their three daughters (Norma, Laura and Anna). I could not have had more awesome hosts. They fed me fantastic toulousian cuisine, showed me everything that a tourist would never find out about Toulouse, and enabled me to generally have a heck of a time.

On top of all the stuff we ended up doing, I got to watch their movies. I suspect this visit is best divided up into the movies that were seen. First off, it was The Science of Sleep, which had a neat cameo of the bridge right beside my hostel in Paris. Surreal.

The next day, I tried (sleepily) to watch C.R.A.Z.Y., but the day was more notable for my chance to see French civil society in action. There was to be an AG (general assembly) at Norma and Laura's high school, which had been on strike for the past week (and would still strike for another week and a bit after that). This is an event where the students that care show up and vote on whether or not to keep blocking the school. Things were beginning to get a bit frustrating for the graduating students: the strike meant each class missed was one they'd have to catch up on by themselves, and it was fairly unlikely that their standardized final exams would be pushed back yet again (there was a week-long strike earlier in the year). The next day, the 15th of May, we all took part in a huge rally through the middle of town called a 'manifestation' (or manif for short). I am as of yet unsure of its' purpose.

That night, a few of us went to go check out The Darjeeling Limited at Theatre Utopia in a nearby town. Theatre Utopia itself was beautiful, and had a great little restaurant in lieu of a popcorn booth. The show was great too. The real surprise, though, was when we got back outside: it became more and more evident that it had hailed while we were busy watching the show.

I have failed, until this point, to comment on the weather, since it has been perfectly wonderful, and therefore not really worth commenting on. But the weather had a turn for the worse everywhere in France once I arrived in Toulouse, making film actors in Cannes, tourists in Paris and Canadians in Toulouse uniformly soaked. With even less precedent than the bad weather, the hail came, and it seemed like there must have been a foot of it. I hope to be forgiven for thinking that I was back in Canada. The leaves of the trees were totally 'déchicoté' (a hilarious word for 'shredded') and the mess was on the ground everywhere in downtown, historic Toulouse.

We were all terrified for Jacques' tomatoes, and for the pingpong table that we'd played with during the (sunny) afternoon but failed to stow away. I guess there's some magic emanating from my ridiculously heavy and gigantic backpack, because even though hail had tormented the plants of Moniques' sister a few hundred yards away, the B's property was totally untouched.

On Friday night, we watched The Usual Suspects. That is all that my scattered notes tell me about Friday.

Saturday was quite good. We first went to the médiathèque where Jacques works, and got the tour and borrowed a few books. Bibliothèque is the french word for library, and 'biblio' is just not enough in this 'média' age. There were places to watch DVDs, it had an awesome comic book section (I read 'Ghost World'), and was generally an awesome library.

Later, Norma and I and a couple of her friends (twins, of all things) made it to the rugby game. Predictably, Toulouse dominated.

Sunday was time for a trip to Carcasonne. Most memorable was the trip along the walls of this gigantic fortress that had never been taken by force (since it was kinda in the middle of nowhere, mostly). The guide was hilarious, and performed splendidly despite all the giggling from the girls about his accent. Seriously guys. haha. Later, we ate at the aforementioned aunts' house, and learned of our luck with regards to the hail.

My last day in Toulouse was Monday, and I tried to see all the sights I'd have to see if I were to hold on to my tourist cred. Unfortunately, quite a few of them were closed, it being a Monday and all, but I still got to see the Basilica by St Sernin (hell, it's probably called the Basilica St. Sernin), and the other massive religious structure whose name I neither wrote nor remembered, but which had a smashing good exhibit on ancient Middle Eastern science. Of interest: Algebra was invented by middle eastern mathematicians, and sorbet has its' roots there too. Who knew. Some of the stuff was mildly hilarious though, like the maps: Europe is charted in all the realistic detail of one of Picasso's later works (I can say things like that now 'cause I went to his museum =D ).

To cap off my week in Toulouse, we watched La Haine. A must see (though Norma would probably say otherwise).

In summation, thank god for Toulouse.
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Toulouse
photo by: ikebana