Main building flanking the Place Du Capitole (Toulouse; France)
Hello, and welcome to yet another French urban setting, this time in the shape of the airbus- and rugby-affiliated city of Toulouse, famous also for being France's second largest student population outside of Paris. A well-fitted hotel located within walking distance of the main bus and train station was the choice of lodgings for the stay, and at this point in time, it might well have occured to me that this was indeed the only section of the ski trip which had, thus far, gone according to the original plan. The centrepiece of Toulouse is the attractive Place Du Capitole, and the buildings which surround it, which hint at the city's affluence, liveability, and history which shaped it along the way.
View of the west side of the river from the Pont Neuf (Toulouse; France)
The aviation affiliation is well represented here by the airbus factory (plus tour option), as well as the Cite De L'Espace, a kind of futuristic museum-cum-theme park, which, despite not getting the chance to visit, is enough of an insight into France's role in sending people up into the skies and beyond. The Pont Neuf is the city's most famous bridge, and leads away from the centre to the west side of the city, where one or two attractions can be found, as opposed to the cluster of chief reference points east of the river. The cathedrals of Toulouse are also striking in their architectural splendour, and the key example is the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne, which holds its own as much as any other tourist attraction within the confines of the city. Similarly, the Basilica of Saint Sernin is a must for visitors, especially on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when you can amble around a flea market and marvel at the spread of goods on offer, to the backdrop of a pretty and ornate building.
St-Etienne cathedral (Toulouse; France)
Despite being endowed with a 2-line metro network, Toulouse is easy enough to negociate on foot, and the main shopping areas are clustered together in such a way that no great effort is required to trek from one node on the retail therapy trail to another. Unlike the independant record store culture which is dying a slow and painful death over here in the UK, Toulouse appears to be well supplied with enough of them to prevent you from having to resort to those internet purchases, and a few casual purchases revealed the fact that there is very much life within the realm of the French music industry. Since students abound here, there is no shortage of eateries, and a 3 course lunch, including wine clocked in at just 9 euros 90, a bargain of sorts which might make you question whether this was a pricing error. All in all, I had scored with Toulouse, as it yielded all I expected a similar-sized European city to yield, and then some. Since the historic French city of Carcassonne
is just a short train ride away, not to mention the attractions in the surrounding area, I deem Toulouse to be prime city break terrain, and a great unpretentious place to discover at your own leisure.