Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city. Fondly known as “la ville rose” because of the color of the bricks made from the area’s clay-rich soil, the city has a distinctive meridional flavor and is well worth a detour on any tour of southern France.
Toulouse centers on the Place du Capitole, a splendid square lined with cafes and occupied on one side such as the Fondation Bemberg and the Musee des Augustins, one of France’s oldest museums—are within walking distance of the city center. Toulouse combines the relaxed elegance of a town proud of its rich architectural heritage, the exuberance of its big student population, and the prosperity incumbent on being world headquarters to Airbus.
For a good, affordable meal found along the narrow streets that irrigate the Capitole, head for Mille et Une Pates at 1 bis rue Mirepoix, just off the rue Gambetta. Mille et Une Pates specializes in home-made pasta with traditional sauces such as bolognaise and carbonara, as well as more innovative ones such as lasagne with leeks and bacon. At lunchtime you can order the “menu express” at €9.50 and get the dish of the day—the day we went it was nouillettes with kebabs—followed by dessert (raspberry lasagne or ice-cream). A big plate of tagliatelle bolognaise costs €7.80.
For the best ice creams in Toulouse, check out Octave on the place du Capitole.