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Toulouse, called France’s pink city because of the rosy, glowing colours of its medieval brickwork – is a lively mixture of old and new. Renaissance mansions line the streets of the old town, where the campanile of the 12th century Basilique St-Sernin is an unmissable landmark, and graceful old bridges span the River Garonne. But Toulouse is also very much a 21st century city, as the capital of Europe’s aerospace industry and the home of Airbus Industrie. It’s a university town, so local life has a youthful edge. Toulouse is a gastronomic hub, and locals boasts that their take on cassoulet – a hearty casserole of beans, sausage, pork, and duck – is the finest that France has to offer, and is best enjoyed on a chilly autumn or winter’s day.
Main City Paris
Surface 811.6 km²
Hélene Vié’s unique boutique and fascinating mini-museum, La Maison de la Violette, is housed in a vintage barge moored on the Canal du Midi. Her charming establishment is all about celebrating the city’s emblem, the Toulouse violet, which gives the city’s football team its nickname – Les Violets. It is said that Napoleon’s soldiers first brought the flower to the city, and it now lends its delicate scent, flavour and colour to sweets, cordials, liqueurs, cakes and teas, all of which you can sample and buy here. A box of crystallised violets is an easy-to-carry memento of your visit to Toulouse, and a bottle of violet liqueur makes an original gift.
This place, I promise you, is perfect for stealing a kiss! From the Capitole, go up rue Gambetta holding your loved one’s hand, then branch off to rue Malbec at rue Peyrolières giving her a smile; that will take you to Port de la Daurade, which has the most amazing view of the city and its river, especially when they are sparkling in the sunlight, or when the cool evening is starting to come in, and the city’s pink glow turns to pastel: its such a romantic location, you’ll be on to a sure thing with that kiss...
Everybody's favourite Sunday morning destination is the Brocante des Allées, a flea market that sets up once a month under the lime trees in Allée Forain-François Verdier.