It’s Sunday afternoon and somehow Daniel and I have pulled ourselves out of bed. The jetlag was rougher than I expected and although it was tempting to sleep all day, we were also anxious to see the city.
We had just arrived at our studio apartment the day before and spent that evening unpacking 2 army duffles, 2 large suitcases, 2 backpacking bags, and 2 rollies. Daniel and I were able to organize our things and even hang some clothes in a way that would make sardines proud. As it was getting late, we popped out for some doner kebab and then proceeded to get lost coming home.
The next morning, we straggle out of the apartment and find ourselves presented with a beautiful, sunny day. Everyone seems to be walking down our street in one direction, towards the Jardin des Plantes. We follow suit and enter what I can only describe as a Truman Show-esque scene of idyll.
An old man plays French songs on an accordian, there’s a little cafe with tables and people reposed, couples lounging in the grass, mini carnival rides for the kids, a crepe stand doing double time serving waffles AND cotton candy. I could almost imagine Christof with a headset on, “alright they are approaching the crepe stand…cue the accordian…more sunlight.”
And the garden itself is right out of a storybook. There are so many trees and flowers and trails to explore. A gazebo overlooks an impressive waterfall where right around the corner, there’s a duck feeding pond. Oh, and chickens roam freely all over! A+ park.
There are bridges that connect Jardin des Plantes to Le Grand Rond, another park where dancers congregate in the gazebo on Sundays, and Jardin Royal, a park dedicated to Déodat de Séverac, a French composer from Toulouse. I have figured out that Toulousians really value free time and love to do it in their parks.
From the gardens, we walked towards the Capitole. Brasseries line the square in front of the Capitole building and the area is bustling with shoppers, tourists, and locals heading out to dinner. That last bit is lucky since we had been told that a lot of places are closed on Sundays and getting a meal can be hard. This is true if you need to go grocery shopping, but Daniel and I have had no problem finding restaurants.
While in the square, a mini-train drove by, inexplicably and for no apparent reason other than to further reassure us that we had made an excellent choice in moving to Toulouse! More Day 1 magic.
From there, we happened upon Place Wilson, a smaller square but still encircled with brasseries and cafes. What else does Place Wilson have? A carousel. Inexplicable. Magic.
By this time, we were overwhelmed with how great Toulouse was, so we got a drink. I could see now why the city was nicknamed “La Ville Rose”, because as the sun was setting lower, the light was making all the terracotta bricks that make up almost every building in the city, glow warm pink.
We turned around and walked towards the river, La Garonne, and decided to come back one evening with a bottle of wine because…
Magic. The French are killin’ the weekend game, you guys!
The very last bit of first-day magic that Toulouse gave us was coming across a bodega that was OPEN. We got the essentials for the next day: bread, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and of course wine.
***Update: I saw the mini-train again recently and it does indeed serve a purpose other than to bemuse us. You can hop aboard and take a tour – if that’s your thing.