16 November 2009

La Ville en Rose

With so much to do and see in the local area, we haven't strayed very far from Ventenac. But, we also didn't want to waste the opportunity of being close to so many exciting places without giving them a chance...so we made a road trip (aka train trip) to Toulouse.

We were up bright and early, greeted by a peaceful, misty sunrise.

We arrived at the Lezignan-Corbieres SNCF train station and boarded our speedy "TGV" train to Toulouse. The French have mastered the art of effective, enjoyable train travel. Trains are almost always on time, clean, and the journey is smooooooth.

Nina admiring the gorgeous landscape between Lezignan and Toulose -- rolling green hills, quaint farms, sleepy villages, vineyards, and the Canal du Midi.

We arrived in Toulouse at 9:00 and had an entire day to wander the lovely winding streets, do a little window shopping, and visit some of the important landmarks. Toulouse was a very accessible place to visit. It is a big city, but not overwhelmingly so and the people seemed warm and welcoming.

One of the trademarks of the city is the "rose" colored brick that most of the building are constructed out of, hence the nickname "la ville en rose."

Could he be more French?? Non.

Teenagers hanging out, soaking up some sunlight, during a break from school.

Our lunch spot of choice was the always happening Place St. Georges. The perfect French scene: a tree spotted square, cafes, people out enjoying each others' company with a glass of wine or coffee, and a few pigeons.

The church of "Les Jacobins." Les Jacobins is an immense 13th century gothic cathedral in the center of Toulouse. Without any pews to ground it, the first thing you notice is the incredible height of the place. The eye is immediately drawn up along the huge pillars and stained glass windows to the vaulted ceiling.

They even placed a mirror around one of the pillars at the end so everyone can fully admire the ceiling. Even the French pre-teens thought it was tres cool!

We did lots of wandering and ended up in the Jardins des Plantes where we made some great friends.

The sight of the old mill.

After a long day of touring, we were ready to board our train back to Lezignan. The train stations have huge lighted signs with the departure times and "voie" that the trains will be leaving from. People all gather around, looking up at the sign and waiting for their "voie" number to show up. When the number finally goes up it's a sudden mad dash to the trains like there is only one good seat and everyone is trying to get it. We have yet to figure out the reasoning for this, especially when there are assigned seats...