Toulouse Train Station (At last)
I had heard that trains in France were slightly unreliable due to strikes, and we discovered that it is true. On Thursday, we bought tickets to go to Toulouse, and when we got to the train station (Gare de Narbonne - practicing my French), the departure board had our train flashing with “supprime” beside the train number. My first reaction was “Supreme”, we must have gotten an upgrade, but Google Translate disappointed me by translating to “deleted” which we figured out meant it was cancelled. Apparently the workers in the one stop before Toulouse were striking so the train could not get through.
|The wheels on the Bus . . . .
Plan “B” was to go on Saturday instead, and this time the trains were running, so after a relaxing ride through the French countryside we did get to the city of Toulouse. The train ride was interesting, because the change in scenery was striking; around Narbonne and the surrounding areas, the only crops we saw growing were grapes for wine, and the vegetables & fruit in the market all come from Spain, so I wondered if France only grew wine grapes (Not that would be a bad thing!), but once we got closer to Toulouse I started seeing all sorts of other crops including large fields of sunflowers and no grapes. Interesting if not really fully understood . . .
Walking the City (It did not really rain)
Toulouse is a bigger city than Narbonne and was much busier with large crowds on its many pedestrian streets. It is an extremely well designed city with many large wide boulevards with well designated bike lanes, parks, gardens and wide pedestrian areas. There are still the typical narrow alley and streets I love in these old European cities, but when a serious fire destroyed a large area of the city, they added these open boulevards and pedestrian areas for safety. They also redesigned the riverfront, so that it is mostly public friendly parks and walkways rather than industrial. I saw this in Glasgow, Scotland as well and it is a pleasant way to make these areas more attractive to people. It also reminded me of the very tourist friendly Halifax waterfront.
|Lunch in Toulouse
We took a city tour and saw most of the highlights through the bus window, and then went out exploring on foot to see the things we saw that interested us. After a stop for lunch, we visited markets, the “capital”, three churches, the riverfront and the Canal de Midi. By then my phone had decided it had done enough and ran out of power with the Pedometer reading 16 km walked, so we found a friendly bartender and sat with drinks while we watched the citizens of Toulouse enjoying their Saturday and waited for our train back to Narbonne.
And now some photos from around Toulouse.
|Chess match - one against eight
|The Canal de Midi
|The red apple-head man?
|Its been a long day - time for a drink!