Toulouse, France

We spent a long weekend in Toulouse, France in late June 2020. Toulouse was a little far to reach by car from Lyon and it took about 5 hours to get there. It is called “the ville rose”, the rose city, because of its terra-cotta bricks on many of the buildings that give it its signature pink look. We left on Thursday evening after work so that we could have three full days to explore before heading back to Lyon.

We arrived in Toulouse late Thursday night and wanted to stretch our legs after a long car drive. We decided to freshen up and then go out for a walk and a drink at a nearby bar. There were a ton of people out for a Thursday night. We found a bar by the Garrone river and had a drink there, and then got a drink to go. We walked down to the banks of the river to finish our second drink before heading back to the hotel. The area by the river was full of groups of friends hanging out and having a good time.

On Friday, we went to a local market and found a stall that sold spices. We were so happy to find crushed red pepper flakes as we hadn’t had luck finding them since we moved here. We then spent the day wandering around Toulouse checking out all the architecture in the city. We had found a funky bar by the river, Le Filochard, that we had read had amazing mojitos. We knew we had to try them, and ended up going for an aperitif in the afternoon. While they may not have been the best mojitos, they were definitely one of the strongest we’ve had!

On Saturday, we rented bikes and set off for a ride along Canal du Midi, a path that connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Many people rides their bikes the entire length of the path. The Canal du Midi is about 150 miles long that was built in the 1600s. This was a great was to spent the morning as we biked past many boats on the canal and even found a local market that was only accessible by bike. Our three speed bikes that we rented weren’t the best for some of the small hills, but it worked for us! The coolest thing about the bike ride is that the canal actually went over an interstate. It was crazy to see the water going over the interstate, knowing that as you were driving you may see a boat passing you overhead!

We spent the afternoon relaxing in Toulouse and then set off to check out the “world’s best wine bar”, the Number 5 Wine Bar. According to its website, it’s been rated the best wine bar in the world for the last three years. We were the first ones to arrive after they opened so we had the place to ourselves. It was a self serve wine bar where they gave you a card to scan, and then you could choose from a diverse selection of whites, reds, and rosés. You could choose three different sizes of the pour, from a taste, to a small sample, and finally a glass. This was such a fun way for us to try many different wines. We didn’t have to commit to a full glass if we didn’t life it, and we were able to taste different wines that we normally would not have.

Toulouse has many local specialties for food, including the Toulouse Sausages and Cassoulet, a French stew with white beans, sausage, and typically a duck confit. It was too hot for stew on this trip, so we decided not to go to a restaurant that served it. Instead, we found Grain de Folie, a restaurant that served the most amazing risotto. Both Jordan and I ordered the veal risotto and both waiters kept telling us it was the best on the menu, and they weren’t wrong! We made sure to try the local Toulouse sausage on Saturday at a restaurant in one of the squares.

We enjoyed spending a couple of days in Toulouse, but it lacked a certain “wow factor” that I had hoped to have from it being called “the pink city”. It’s definitely worth checking out, but I’m not sure we will make a separate trip back… maybe if only to try the cassoulet!

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