My feet are bloody stumps after walking around Toulouse for 11 hours straight today. Wow. Not even sure where to start except to say that this is an awesome city and I hope to come back as soon as possible.
It’s a small city with narrow streets lined with four- to six-story, old apartment buildings featuring the typical wooden shutters, and with shops on the street level. People drive like maniacs through the tight streets where many people are walking because the sidewalks are so narrow. I’ve noticed that French women really YELL harshly at their children when they accidentally step into the street, and I can understand why. There’s no way anyone would survive getting hit by a car here, child or adult.
I started the day at the marche couvert, also known as the Victor Hugo market. It’s actually inside a big parking structure. The ground floor contains the market, which is a huge space jammed with vendors of all kinds (fish, sausage, cheese, bakeries, horse meat, beef, prepared food, and cafes/bars), while the outside of the building is lined with fresh vegetable and fruit vendors. Inside on the second floor are restaurants.
Getting there early was a good idea because it was mostly older people doing their shopping. As time wore on, the aisles clogged with looky-loos who stood gawking in annoying, traffic-jamming clumps. I’ve noticed that French women use these fun rolling carts for their shopping, much like what I recall women using in Manhattan when I went to school there. It’s a small city, so people walk everywhere.
I made a couple of laps just to get the lay of the land and observe how the Romans do. Mostly I was trying to get breakfast for myself, but I wasn’t sure where to eat anything after I purchased it. The restaurants upstairs were still closed at 10 a.m. I noticed that people were standing at the cafe bars eating things they’d bought at other stands, so I opted for that as well. I bought some Basque cheese, a frittata, and what turned out to be lemon-flavored clotted cream from ewes (!), but which I thought was yogurt. Lesson learned. I figured I’d have a heart attack before lunch, but fortunately, that didn’t happen. It was DELICIOUS and would have been worth at least a minor myocardial disturbance.
An interesting tidbit: the sign at the fromagerie where I bought the clotted cream made a big deal of the ewe cream finally arriving. So I’m guessing there’s a season for clotted cream from ewes and I was lucky enough to hit it. Yea!
At the cafe/bar, I ordered a grand creme, which is basically a latte here in the city (in the countryside, grand cremes seemed much, much stronger). I stood and ate my breakfast while watching two guys across from me split a bottle of rose for breakfast. Earlier I had noticed SEVERAL people drinking wine and beer at a few different bars, men and women. No one else seemed to think this was strange so early in the morning.
My next mission: a taste-off of the bazillion ice cream shops all over town. I’m pretty sure life couldn’t get any better.