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From chocolatier to farmers’ market in lively student city Toulouse

At the Glasgow Climate Summit, world leaders discussed how to combat global warming. For many people extra reason to think about what they can do themselves. No more blindly catching a plane for a city trip is one of those things.

Traveling by night train

That travelers are open to alternatives is apparent from the cautious comeback that the night train is making in Europe. Toulouse can also be reached by sleeping train. To do this, you first travel to Paris, where you take the ‘train de nuit’ directly to Toulouse.

A train ride of just under eight hours, where some sleep like a baby because of the movement of the train and others lie awake half the night because of all the strange sounds of the track. It may not be comfortable, but it certainly is adventurous.

Once in Toulouse, you can ignore other means of transport, because the center is compact and you experience the atmosphere best while walking. What is immediately noticeable is how friendly the people are here.

Charming French

No gruff waiters in Toulouse like you sometimes find in Paris. In this southern city, the service is charming. They wouldn’t be French if they didn’t initially argue with the question whether English could be spoken, but that is mainly out of uncertainty, not out of unwillingness.

In addition, it is impossible to miss how many bakeries and chocolate shops can be found in the side streets. In Toulouse they like a cake, that’s for sure.

sweet works of art

There are stylish patisseries where pastries are presented as works of art. For example, you can buy beautiful sweets from stores like Sandyan and Emily that are almost a shame to eat.

If you want to dive deep into the world of chocolate and pastry, book a chocolate & pastry tour. During this three-hour tour, guide Jessica shares many fun facts and of course there is also a lot of tasting. From local specialties to the best chocolates in town. Tip: make sure you have not eaten too much beforehand.

Strolling through the streets you could easily pass the Jacobin Monastery. The austere building does not immediately attract attention. But do step inside, because the 13th-century Gothic-style monastery is a lot bigger and more beautiful than the outside suggests.

Unesco pilgrim church

A little further in the city center is the basilica of Saint-Sernin, which makes Toulouse part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The large pilgrim church is on the list of Unesco World Heritage, because it is one of the best preserved Romanesque churches in Europe.

You don’t see hordes of pilgrims on the street, but you do see many students. The pink city – so called because of the much-used red brick – is one of the largest student cities in France. And that young population gives Toulouse a lively appearance.

Sunset on the river

On a beautiful evening, students gather along the embankment of the River Garonne, where they enjoy the sunset with a drink. It is a popular place for a drink or picnic, although the terraces in the rest of the city are certainly not empty.

In the summer season, La Guinguette de Chouchou is a nice place for a glass of wine. This floating terrace with brightly colored chairs overlooks the ancient Pont-Neuf bridge.

The stately Place du Capitole – the heart of the city – is also a beautiful square for a drink or to browse the market. Here you will also find Le Bibent, an institution in Toulouse. This cafe and restaurant has been around since 1843 and the Belle Epoque interior is stunning.

French cheese from the market

For a good dinner you dive into the side streets. The cozy restaurant L’Air de Famille, for example, is a bit hidden, but the Toulousians like to sit here. Not surprising, because the menu is tasteful and very affordable. A bonus is the cheerful sommelier, who is chatting pleasantly at every table.

Another place loved by locals is the covered Victor Hugo market. In the mornings you can get the best delicacies and edible souvenirs here. The cheese farmer can vacuum pack everything, which is not an unnecessary luxury. Certainly not if that French cheese still has to be taken home with the night train.

For this article, our editor went to Toulouse at the invitation of Toulouse Tourism. The content of the article has been independently determined editorially.

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