Toulouse

Exploring the old city center of Toulouse

Electric bikes for use around Toulouse

Electric bikes for use around Toulouse

I was unprepared with this Southeastern France trip. The original plan was from Paris after the opening of Photoquai 2013 will go directly to Barcelona and meet up with my friend, Eduard, who has been studying and describing new beetle species that I’ve sent to him over the years. But for reasons that I can no longer recall, I booked a high speed train from Paris to Carcassonne. But unfortunately, I mistakenly booked a hotel far from the city center and instead thought of going to Lourdes for the Marian site. But it all came to naught as I eventually realized that with the short time I had, Lourdes would never materialize. So instead, I took a train to Toulouse to explore for a day.

Toulouse is the capital city of the French department of Haute Garonne and the Midi-Pyrénées region. As early as the 5th century, it was already the capital of a Visigoth Kingdom. It has two UNESCO World Heritage listed sites, the Canal du Midi which is shared with other towns and the Basilica of St. Sernin as it is part of the routes of the Santiago de Compostela in France. The city is also called la Ville Rose because of the pinkish bricks used as building material. While it is the center of European aerospace industry, like other new places I visit, I concentrated on the old quarter of Toulouse.

It’s a beautiful city. Clean and pedestrian and bike friendly with electric bikes available for use. It’s architecture is a great mix of medieval to modern. While Perpignan, another city in southeastern France and located near the sea has its Palace of the Kings and La Castillet, Toulouse has its religious structures and the Capitole. There are several churches around the city and I’ve visited only three major structures, the Basilica of St. Sernin, the Eglise de St. Aubin, a more ‘recent’ construction dating to 1847 and the unique Cathedral of St. Etienne with its asymmetric design. These three are of different style: the Basilica is considered the biggest Romanesque structure in Europe or even the world with interesting bas reiefs and artifacts that even dates to the medieval period; the Cathedral is typical Gothic with all those interesting vaulting and rose windows and the Eglise, or church, more eclectic. Another one, the Carmelite Chapel is what remains of the Carmelite convent that was destroyed during World War II. Inside this chapel are beautiful religious paintings by Rivals and Despax.

READ MORE: A day touring around the city of Perpignan

There is still so much to explore around Toulouse, places like different museums showcasing ancient to modern art, the Jacobin monastery from the 13th century, the Capitole grounds, the Sunday markets and the Canal du Midi. Perhaps, when I am able to go back, would definitely stay for a few more days and enjoy a slower paced exploration.

exterior and interior of the Eglise de St. Aubin built in 1847

exterior and interior of the Eglise de St. Aubin built in 1847

The Place du Capitole with the first building built in 1190. The current facade goes back to 1750 and the most recent renovations were done in 1995. The Capitole houses the city hall and is the residence of a local opera company, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and a local symphony orchestra.

The Place du Capitole with the first building built in 1190. The current facade goes back to 1750 and the most recent renovations were done in 1995. The Capitole houses the city hall and is the residence of a local opera company, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and a local symphony orchestra.

Details found around the city: left, from a fountain; center, detail from a house, right, gargoyles from the cathedral

Details found around the city: left, from a fountain; center, detail from a house, right, gargoyles from the cathedral

A quiet street and apartment. Toulouse is also nicknamed the la Ville Rose (the pink city) because of the pinkish bricks used in buildings

A quiet street and apartment. Toulouse is also nicknamed the la Ville Rose (the pink city) because of the pinkish bricks used in buildings

Maternitée (Motherhood) by Jean Louis Toutain (1948-2008), a local sculpture

Maternitée (Motherhood) by Jean Louis Toutain (1948-2008), a local sculpture

Top left and top right: exterior and interior Basilica of St. Sernin built between 1080-1120 and is considered the biggest Romanesque building. It is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Routes of the Santiago de Compostela. Lower left, interior of the Chapelle des Carmélites built in 1622 and has paintings done by Jean-Pierre and Jean-Baptiste Despax; lower right, vaulting at the Eglise de St. Aubin

Top left and top right: exterior and interior Basilica of St. Sernin built between 1080-1120 and is considered the biggest Romanesque building. It is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Routes of the Santiago de Compostela. Lower left, interior of the Chapelle des Carmélites built in 1622 and has paintings done by Jean-Pierre and Jean-Baptiste Despax; lower right, vaulting at the Eglise de St. Aubin

Fountain at Place Wilson with a sculpture of Pierre Goudelin (Goudouli, 1580-1649) | by Renaud Camus

Fountain at Place Wilson with a sculpture of Pierre Goudelin (Goudouli, 1580-1649) | by Renaud Camus

IKKS shopfront in one of the streets of the city

IKKS shopfront in one of the streets of the city

Various buildings around the city

Various buildings around the city

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse with portions dating as early as 844 and several constructions starting in 1073 till the 20th century. Clockwise from top right: vaulting near the presbytery; disjointed interiors as the cathedral is said to be two structures merged into one; nave and buttressing of the cathedral

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse with portions dating as early as 844 and several constructions starting in 1073 till the 20th century. Clockwise from top right: vaulting near the presbytery; disjointed interiors as the cathedral is said to be two structures merged into one; nave and buttressing of the cathedral

Tree lined path

Tree lined path

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

One Comment

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    June 14, 2016 @ 8:21

    Exploring the old city center of Toulouse: Electric bikes for use around Toulouse
    I was actually unprepared w… https://t.co/mQkWTgzVrw

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