I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Friday, 14 November 2008

Toulouse: Rose-Red City

The Canal du Midi cuts almost through the heart of Toulouse, the finest and liveliest city in south-west France. There can be no better approach to any city. (The Grand Union Canal does a similar thing in Birmingham - but somehow it's not quite the same!) Beforehand, when imagining Toulouse, I'd vaguely thought: Aerospace. Airbus. Shiny new industrial parks. And that was about it. Nothing had prepared me for bright sun on rose-red brick and cloistered convents ...


... and monasteries now art museums ...


... the 16th century Pont-Neuf spanning the broad Garonne river ...


... tiny parks and squares with their fountains and sculptures ...


... and bijou little shops and cafés in the narrow streets and alleyways ...


... the gargoyles ...



... the bustling Place du Capitole ...



... and the medieval wonder that is the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse's crowning glory ...



... where a wedding had just taken place ...



There was also the Hôtel Dieu Saint-Jacques (a former pilgrim hostel and hospice) with its huge garden sculpture of a scallop shell, and the Church of Notre-Dame de la Daurade with its much-venerated Black Virgin, and the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne with its 13th century rose window and unique asymmetrical design ...

For the 1st time on the trip I stayed 2 nights - the 2nd one in an Ibis hotel. Bliss!

2 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

I wonder whether an inhabitant of Toulouse would be so excited about Birmingham!! It has plenty of good art galleries and a super concert hall - but the buildings certainly let it down when comparing it with your photos of Toulouse. Still - it grew up around the industrial revolution so there is hardly a comparison with such an ancient place as Toulouse. Loved the photos.

The Solitary Walker said...

I think a Toulouse inhabitant would be equally excited about Birmingham if it's all as good as Singing Bear describes in his latest post on www. zedalley.blogspot.com!

But I've walked that stretch of canal from Leamington to Birmingham and, believe me, the last bit but through Aston into the city centre is... well... grim, to say the least.

Glad you liked the photos!