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Toulouse: a trip to the "pink city"
In 2019 one of our customers went on a trip to Toulouse, which is poetically called the "pink city" because of the pinkish terracotta bricks used in most of the city's historical buildings. Toulouse is a three-hour bus ride from Bordeaux, so these cities may always be combined into one trip.
Arriving in Toulouse, the team moves into a five-star hotel Crowne Plaza Toulouse, which is located in the heart of the city and provides 162 rooms for its guests. The courtyard is decorated with a fountain and sculptures, and the rooms overlook the Capitol square.
Dinner is arranged in the elegant restaurant at the hotel - 7 du Plaza. Exquisite French, regional and Mediterranean cuisine is what you can expect from the restaurant Chef.
In the morning we are going on the sightseeing tour of Toulouse, that got its start from the Place du Capitole, the main city square. Here is situated one of the most important buildings of Toulouse, after which the square is named – the Capitol, in which the local authorities have had their sessions for over nine centuries. Inside one can admire the gorgeous decoration, stucco and painted ceilings.
The group have seen the Saint-Étienne cathedral, that is recognized as a national monument in France. Most of the stained-glass windows of the cathedral date back to the 19th century, though in the chapel Saint Vincent de Paul you can see stained glass belonging to almost every century starting from the 13th – these are the oldest stained-glass windows in Toulouse.
The oldest bridge in Toulouse, Pont Neuf, is the only surviving old bridge across the Garonne river. It has the same name as the bridge in Paris – the "New Bridge".
The guide showed us the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, featured in many picture postcard views of the city. The significance of the church had increased dramatically around 800, as Charlemagne, king of the Franks, donated it several relics, which made the basilica an important stop for pilgrims. Today it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Toulouse takes pride not only in its history but also in those who have yet to make new records in it. The city is regarded as a scientific and educational center, students from all over the world come here to study. The University of Toulouse, worthy rival of the Sorbonne in the quality of education and the owner of a long and glorious history, opens its doors for more than 70,000 students each year. For many, to enter the local Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space is a blessing.
It is Toulouse that makes a huge contribution into the space and aviation industries in France. There is even a space city «Cité de l'Espace». It is a theme park with expositions focused on space and its conquest. It features full-scale models of rockets, planetarium, flight simulator and allows to walk around the Russian Space Station "Mir".
For dinner the team goes to the gastronomic restaurant Les Caves de la Maréchale. The interior, as well as the traditional French dishes, is a delight – the restaurant occupies a beautiful wine cellar with ancient brickwork and antique sculptures.
The next day, we go on a tour of the Airbus factory, where one can see the scale of aircraft production. They tell us how the parts of a plane are made and then invite to the hangar of the final assembly. And what we have seen there are three almost complete Airbus A380 aircrafts, which were to rise in the sky soon.
After visiting the factory, we continue the aviation theme and go to the aviation museum Aeroscopia. There are about 30 different aircraft models here – from the earliest French flying machines to symbols of an entire era such as the Concorde. Many exhibits were donated by the Airbus company, and some were collected by volunteers of the aviation association Ailes Аnciennes.
While in Toulouse, you should definitely try the local specialty "Le cassoulet" (casserole containing meat and beans), which has been cooked in the Languedoc region since the mid-19th century. We are going to dinner at the restaurant Le Colombier, which serves the best cassoulet in the city.
After breakfast at the hotel, the group goes on a farm tour in the vicinity of Toulouse. During the first stop on the Ferme de las Crabères, we sample the true foie gras – the Toulouse residents believe that the best foie gras is prepared in their region.
Then we set off for the farm Ferme de Gagnet, where we are treated to the authentic Armaniac. The French like to joke: "the French have given Cognac to the whole world, but they have kept Armaniac for themselves".
At the end of the day, the team goes to dinner at the restaurant Brasserie Père Léon, on the site of which there was a wine bar founded by Léon Sentenac in 1905. A century later, Leon's grandchildren renovated the bar and turned it into a family restaurant, where one can enjoy the authentic French cuisine, which we did.