À bientôt, Toulouse

Salut à tous et une très bonne journée a vous.

Well, the time has come to officially say goodbye to Toulouse. My visa expired last month and I returned home to Scotland for a few weeks before coming back to Toulouse to tie up some loose ends. I’m spending my last few weeks in the city seeing some friends and taking in all that the city has to offer. I decided that a nice way to round off my blog would be to dedicate my final post to Toulouse, as it has been my home for the last nine months and I have loved every minute of living here.

Pont Saint-Pierre

Despite being the fourth largest city in France, Toulouse is less visited and is perhaps not as well known as its counterparts, Paris and Lyon, which is a shame as it is a wonderful city. It is truly unlike any other city I have visited in France in that it doesn’t feel necessarily French. This might be to do with the fact that it is only a stone’s throw away from Spain, with relatively easy car access to Barcelona and Spain’s Basque Country. The Spanish influence can also possibly explain the accent in Toulouse which differs greatly from the rest of France.

L’accent Toulousain

When I first moved to Toulouse, I suddenly began to doubt whether I actually knew the language at all as I couldn’t understand a lot of what some people were saying. This was when I discovered l’accent Toulousain. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about French pronunciation – the Toulousains throw these rules out of the window! The most notable difference comes from the pronunciation of “oi” and “ai” sounds.

For example, you’ll hear many words such as le pain, les mains, loin and moins being pronounced more like an ‘è’, and often with a very subtle ‘g’ sound at the end. With this in mind, le pain sounds a little like ‘le pèn’ and loin sounds more like ‘loèn’. The same is even true for words such as cinq and vingt, which become more like cènq et vèngt.

At first, I was completely taken aback by the accent but I have since grown to adore it and even find myself occasionally slipping into it on certain words!

Pain au chocolat ou Chocolatine ?

One of France’s greatest inventions and one of life’s simple pleasures, we all love a pain au chocolat. HOWEVER, in Toulouse you are unlikely to see it advertised as such. Instead, if you visit a boulangerie in Toulouse you’ll want to ask for a chocolatine. This is an age-old debate in France, with the South-West and the rest of the country being completely divided on its name. Many people in the South-West believe that the name ‘pain au chocolat’ is incorrect as it is a pastry and simply has nothing to do with bread, as its name would suggest, and I have to admit that I agree with this sentiment. What do you think, do you like the name ‘chocolatine’?

Day Trips

Outside of its bustling city centre, there are a number of great towns in the Toulouse region which can easily be visited by train, most taking less than one hour. Since living here, I have managed to make a few trips and have seen some lovely towns, these include Albi and Carcassonne.

Albi

Found 50 miles northeast of Toulouse, Albi is best known for its stunning cathedral and old bridge (Pont Vieux). It is believed that the construction of the bridge dates as far back as 1040!

I spent a lovely few hours here with my best friend Erica and her cousin, Zoe – even stopping to enjoy some cassoulet for lunch, a slow-cooked casserole dish containing meat, typically pork sausages, and white beans (a true southwest speciality).

Carcassonne

Situated 50 miles east of Toulouse, Carcassone is a fortified city and is best known for its citadel, Cité de Carcassonne. This medieval city has around 2500 years of history and has been occupied by different ages such as the Romans and the Crusaders.

During our last month in France, I visited a number of cities in the south with my friends, Erica and Isla, and we just had to make sure that Carcassonne was on that list. If you’re interested in medieval history or are even just fascinated by its architecture, this is the place for you!

My Favourite Memories of Toulouse

To round off, I thought that it would be nice to share some of my favourite memories of Toulouse that I haven’t yet spoken about in any of my blog posts – my favourite places in the city or favourite activities that I have done.

We actually had no idea that Pride was taking place on this day so we accidentally ended up joining the crowd. It was our first-ever pride event and it was such a fun day.

If you listen to any French music, you may be familiar with the very famous Belgian singer Angèle. My friends bought me tickets to see her in Toulouse for my birthday and we had an amazing time!

Watching the sunset on the banks of the Garonne with a French-style taco was a staple of our year abroad and something I never got tired of.

Growing up in and around Glasgow, I was almost much more of a football fan but since moving to Toulouse, I have taken an interest in rugby as it is such an important sport here. Stade Toulousain is actually the most successful rugby club in Europe, having won more trophies and championships than any other.

Raclette is a traditional Swiss dish in which the guests melt cheese on a special grill to serve with boiled potatoes, pickles and cured meats. For her first week in Toulouse, my best friend lived in an AirBnB with a French host named Alice. She hosted our first raclette dinner party and we had an excellent night. The food was delicious and we learned so much about the French culture from Alice and her boyfriend.

Et voilà, we’ve reached the end of my special Toulouse post. It was a lengthy one so if you made it this far, thank you very much for reading and I hope you discovered something new about the city I have called home for the last nine months. My experience here has been simply unforgettable. I have significantly improved my French, I have learned so much about the culture and most importantly, I have made some friends for life. For those of you who have read my posts, I just want to say thank you for following me on this wonderful journey and I hope you have taken something from my blog – knowledge about the French language and culture, a desire to explore France or even if you have simply just enjoyed reading along. Either way, I appreciate it.

So I guess this is goodbye to Toulouse. I do, however, have a strong desire to return here after finishing my studies so with that in mind, it’s less au revoir, Toulouse and more à bientôt, Toulouse.

Bisous

Erica

2 thoughts on “À bientôt, Toulouse

    1. Bonjour Cédric ! Je suis trop contente que vous ayez lu mon blog et qu’il vous ait plu, moi j’ai eu le plaisir de partager mes expériences. J’espère que tout va bien et on se verra à Strathclyde pour la dernière année d’études ! 😁

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