Off the plane from Prague, the contrast with Toulouse is stark. The streets in France are wide, even, and shaded by leafy branches towering overhead. Shop fronts are seemingly always freshly painted, their signs detailed in modern yet classic scripts. Chickens roam free in the parks. The French are flawlessly yet understatedly elegant, riding the tram, cycling past, their hair perfectly in place. They sit on painted metal folding chairs drinking their coffee, sipping their wine, served by a waiter, a white apron tied around his waist, beneath the awning of a perfectly placed street corner restaurant as the golden sun of the late summer evening turns the whole scene a magical hue. This is what there is to do in Toulouse. It’s not a dream it’s just, France.
The first morning I left my apartment around noon for lunch, my Airbnb wasn’t in the best area to stay in Toulouse so it was about a 20-minute walk. It took me at least an hour and a half to get there. I didn’t get lost. I got distracted. A church here, an alleyway there, there are so many places to visit in Toulouse. Vintage shops, cafes, wine bars, flea markets, Toulouse is distractingly, and unexpectedly, enchanting.
My bit of French, ‘bonjour’ ‘merci’ ‘au revoir’ get me a long way here. The people smile, switch to English and are happy to chat. I don’t feel like I’m being looked down upon for my lack of French, I don’t feel that snobby energy that I noticed five years ago when I visited Bordeaux. I feel welcome and wanted in this part of France. I get asked where I’m from and hear stories of adventures in the United States in response.
I eat, I window shop, I walk, a lot, I sit, I watch, I listen. Even on rainy days Toulouse is full of life.
I see a man, toplessly sunbathing in the park be told by the police to put his shirt on. I watch two homeless men yelling on the street. But I also see the peaceful diversity of France. And it is, diverse. White, black, brown, or green. Curly hair, straight hair, or head scarf. Everyone is just living their same life.
Drinking wine on Saturdays. Eating brunch on Sundays. Watching the sunset on the river. Listening to the drum circle. Walking the streets. Running by the canal. Yelling at children. Dodging dog poop. Riding their motorbikes. Going to work. Buying baguettes. This is what you do in France.
It’s all just life. French life. Exactly as French life should be, according to an American.
The Country Jumper contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!