You’ll want to lose yourself in Toulouse
We never intended to come to Toulouse. it was added to our destination list just so that we could visit a camping supplies shop on the outskirts and pick up some exciting and romantic supplies (loo blu and the like).
Thanks to some dodgy indicators that held us up, (you can watch the tedious fixing video here if that’s your thing) we were late arriving and so the municipal campsite just down the road was the best option for the night.
I can honestly say that I have never been so pleased to be sidetracked. The municipal campsite was in a pretty industrial part of the city but we discovered that it was next to a canal and that you could cycle into the heart of Toulouse along the towpaths – the campsite also offered us an access card for the underground parking at Le Capitole in the centre of Toulouse. So, like East 17, we decided to stay another day and cycle the 7.5km into Toulouse, quite possibly one of the best decisions of the trip so far.
The canal was like a suburb in its own right, with makeshift dwellings half hidden along the banks in between the dual carriageway road and the industrial estates. I was really taken with these buildings and the people that had made a home here, and I would like to go back, with more time, and get to know them and their story. The one thing I’m finding about travelling is that you run the risk of visiting places and not people.
7.5km later we arrived in the centre of Toulouse and parked our bikes in Le Capitole underground parking (poshest car park I’ve ever seen – with piped classical music, nicer toilets than most restaurants I’ve been to and perfume automatically dispensed around the car park corridors, I kid you not). Once we’d got over the excitement of the Car Park we headed through some of the Toulouse alleys between Le Capitole and Pont Neuf to the Prairie des Filtres, a park on the banks of the Garronne with great views of the city.
From the businesswoman in the pencil skirt and stilettos who shot past us on her scooter, to the dreadlocked guy who helped Stan when his bike got tangled with a drainpipe, and all the shops, cafes and alleyways that just demand a closer look, I loved Toulouse.
As we arrived back to Le Capitole to collect our bikes, a group of protesters had occupied one of the buildings on the main square. We found out later that this was linked to the dispute over the government’s new labour law (the same protest that led to the fuel strikes). There were lots of people painting banners on the floor as we left and the CRS were making themselves visible. According to local news a couple of people were injured as the protests escalated.