Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A Peruse Through Toulouse, Enthused and Bemused

Toulouse, France (Toulouse, France)
October 2015
Toulouse was an hour's drive from our house sit so one day we set off on an expedition. The carpark building we found was tall and cylindrical and had no floors - you just kept driving upwards in a continuous circle until you came across an empty spot to pull into. We spiralled our way all the way to the top, at which point I was feeling dizzy and a little queasy like when you overdo it on those spinny office chairs. 
The roof was a good vantage point to see out over the trendy area we had arrived in, which was bustling with students.

Following a long, straight street to the centre, we saw many beautiful brick buildings with wrought iron railings.

And some inspired graffiti too!
The streets had plenty of lively cafes and restaurants so we employed the help of Lonely Planet to select a suitable place for lunch. As the city is known for its grilled meats, we ordered cassoulet and steak and sipped at a lovely red wine. 

After briefly checking out the town square (there was some strange event on with lots of children running about), we headed further on to the Basilica of Saint Sernin with its grand archway and octagonal bell tower.

The basilica is on the site of an older abbey which came into popularity after Charlemagne donated some of his unwanted holy relics to the monks in charge. Its current iteration as a basilica was completed in the 12th-century and is the largest surviving Romanesque building in Europe (possibly the world). Apparently the Romanesque style is classified by all the semi-circular arches about the place. That seems like a very vague style classification to me! "Yeah just throw in some more semi-circular arches in there and voila! We now have the largest Romanesque building in the world! Well done us."

Another semi-circular arch. Yes, apparently windows count as well. It was an intriguing basilica and very enjoyable to walk around. In one of the side chapels was a statue of a crucified Saint Francis of Assisi. The funny thing about him was he had one eye open as though to make sure you were mourning properly. 

On the way back to the corkscrew carpark we enjoyed the ambience of the streets some more and kept an eye out (like ol' Francis) for a patisserie, but only found touristy-looking offerings. Instead we looked out from the rooftop at the sun setting over Toulouse and prepared ourselves to leave the urban sprawl and return to country living for a few more days of our house sit. 

Today's post was almost called: Everybody Gets A Semi-Circular Arch!