|Thursday 31 May
So we arrived in Toulouse after a two hour trip on the TGV. First class was nice - wide electric seats, bigger tables, more leg room and a whole lot less crowded. No screamy babies in our carriage. Toulouse is famous for being the "pink city" - we think it is actually red but we don't want any arguments. The entire town is built from red brick and smatterings of red marble. A nice change from the dreary colours everywhere else in France. The weather was not that great but we went out for a walk once we ditched the packs and headed for the centre of town which is a huge square called Place Municipal. Did a bit of wandering down small streets and spent the rest of the day people watching at a cafe. Had a really nice dinner at a chain restaurant called L'Entrecote. There are no reservations and no menus. All you do is ask how you want your meat done and wait. They bring to you bread (which of course is a freebie in France), a simple lettuce salad with dressing and walnuts and then a huge plate of chips with your beef sirloin in their famous (and secret) sauce. So bread, water, salad, steak and chips for 16.00 euros. The funny thing is that the menu NEVER changes. You can of course order wine and they have amazing desserts all for 5.50 euros. It was nice to have red meat in a country where it is usually really expensive.
Friday 1 June
Today we decided to take a trip to Carcassonne. The famous medieval walled town about an hour away on the train. We got there and it was miserable ... the rain would not let up. Almost having decided to turn around and go back, the sun made a miraculous appearance and we walked to the old town. We had a huge lunch at a very touristy pub and had beef tongue salad to start and a wild pork, duck and bean stew. The pictures of the place are great and we later regretted not doing a guided tour of the ramparts (but it was pouring down at the time). We noticed that there were many restaurants competing which kept the prices down. Back in Toulouse, we went to a student hang out for dinner ("Plat du Jour 8.00 euros) and ate quickly while being engulfed in cigarette smoke. Then had an early night with our books (Peter is reading Vince Flynn's Consent to Kill and John is reading Robert Harris' Fatherland - both MUST READ authors).
Saturday 2 June
Today we had a lazy day around town exploring the city centre. Did some window shopping (OK John had to buy this T - Shirt) and found a great little square called Place St George. It was a fantastic place to watch the world go by - it was cloudy and sunny but it was consistently warm. Walked over the River Garonne and took loads of pictures of Pont Neuf and the distinctive red brick and tile houses. After dinner we went out to a gay bar and it was funny to see the same stripper (this and shower shows are par for the course here in France?!) from the first night at Raidd Bar in Paris, whoops that's probably a bit too much info for some of you.
Sunday 3 June
"Bonne Fete Maman." Today is Mothers Day in France. Together with that and because of it being a Sunday, the whole place is closed. So, again another lazy day but this time we took advantage of the European "the first sunday of the month is free at museums" convention and went to Les Abbatoirs, Toulouse's large contemporary art museum. Had lots of freaky stuff there but the best was one of Picasso's Guernica series murals. Another dinner at L'Entrecote (this time with wine and a huge profiterole and ice cream dessert) and another early night with Vince and Robert.
Monday 4 June
We are going to make our way to Biarritz today. Hopefully the weather will be nice enough and the water will be warm enough for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean ...