Toulouse came as a surprise – we didn’t expect it to be such a lovely and largely non-touristy town.
Whoever called it “the pink city”, though, must have been slightly color-blind, as it is not at all a pink but rather a reddish-orange city. Built mostly of brick, with tiled roofs, Toulouse comes in all shades of reddish, orange, and brown.
In the US, brick facades are rather plain and boring, but not here. Here, they are ornately elaborate: the masons laid out brick in intricate designs, which were then decorated with long lacy cast-iron balconies.
The city was never bombed during WWII, and its mostly 16th century core survived intact. Even though overall, the old city is a mishmash of individual houses rather than an architectural ensemble, it is still lovely somehow.
Brick is the king here. You see it everywhere: from old churches and bell towers to brand new apartment houses. The streets are lined with cobblestone; they are narrow, but wider than those in medieval cities. Both streets and lively squares are on a human scale: not too wide, not too narrow, but just right.
Oddly though, in our modern times, with the advent of the internet, tv, and fashion magazines, it is still a backwater town. Not too many beautiful people are to be found here (have they all left for Paris?) and the fashions are dated, both on people and in the stores. Granted, it’s a far cry from the villages of Dordogne we left behind. It is a city, albeit a smallish provincial city, populated by city folk, not the peasant stock we found back in the country. An abundance of foie gras and duck meat clearly took a toll on the bodies of those countryfolk! I won’t even mention the missing teethe, greasy hair, and Kmart-type clothes. But tourists don’t go to Dordogne to people watch, right?


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