“Toulouse is the forth biggest city in France,” my friend said with a really fantastic French accent, “but the streets are small and the bricks are pink, so it feels small…like Beauty and the Beast!” And right he was. Although I did an obscene amount of walking this city, the entire city kind of felt like everything was just one or two streets over. And while the bricks aren’t hot pink, like I was expecting when someone told me that Toulouse is “la ville rose” (the pink city), it is very interesting to see every single building be built out of the same pinkish brick. The buildings that are not completely brick are colorful, and everything really does have a quaint Provincial feel (even though Toulouse isn’t in Provence; it is a little to the west of Provence but they still have rolling fields and lavender).
I did not take that many pictures here because I was spending all of my time with my French friends, and even though they were taking me to tourist things so I could see them and take photos, I felt like a lame tourist. So, I apologize for the lack of photos, but for things that I don’t have pictures of, I made sure to find a visual reference of some type for you. Toulouse is very beautiful, and has big buildings, a very beautiful river with trees lining the entire side and a lot of parks. Unfortunately, it also rains 100 days a year. As one of my friends said to me, woefully, “I didn’t realize that before I came to school here…I probably wouldn’t have come if I had known that.” I was in Toulouse for 4.5 days, and it rained 1.5 of those days…but for the most part, the weather was very nice (except for the gusts of wind that would hit every so often. What’s up with that, France?) and allowed the pictures I did take to have a nice background.
Of the very little touristing I did while I was there, I saw Le Capitole, La Garonne (a river that runs through the city), an American thrift store with stuff from the 50s (needless to say, this was much cooler for the French people I was with rather than me), a hospital/cathedral which used to be used for the Black Plague and now just hangs out and is used for a hospice. They also have a HUGE slaughterhouse right next to the river, which led for a weird discussion about if my friend really was trying to say “slaughterhouse” or something else (language barriers. Y’know). It turns out that it used to be a slaughterhouse where they would kill pigs and dump the sludge and remains into the river (hence the location), but is now used as a museum. I also saw a few churches just from walking around, and I even found one that had color on the front of it! So weird! I guess things in the south of France are just more colorful and beautiful than in the north (sorry, Paris. But I guess that whole Eiffel Tower thing you’ve got is kind of cool).
Anyway, Le Capitole is the biggest thing ever for Toulouse and I can see why. It is a huge and beautiful building in the middle of the city which has a bunch of paintings that are extremely beautiful and…wait for it…GOLD IN IT!!! I was starting to think that France never found any gold during their colonization times since their churches, buildings, etc rarely have any of it incorporated with the design. During this little excursion, I had forgotten my camera, so I am not able to show you any of my own photos from this place, but take a look at what my friend Google found for me. After we left Le Capitole, I asked what else there was to see and my friend just sort of shrugged and said, “you’ve seen all of Toulouse, you can go home now.”
The main river which runs through Toulouse is called La Garonne and has trees planted all along the side and has spots of grass for people to sit and eat/chat/smoke/etc. They even have some little parks along the river for children. Since we went to the river on a day that was very warm, there were a lot of people sitting next to the river and I pointed out different accents in English to my French friend as we walked along. There are a lot of British people in Toulouse for some reason? Anyway, the river is very nicely decorated, and the weather definitely helped. After looking at the river, we went to a class “party” aka watched a concert of art students performing music, dance and poetry in the park next to the river while also dodging the million dogs and children that were also in attendance. We were all hanging out, having a good time, and then suddenly the sun disappeared behind some clouds and next thing you knew, everyone was getting up to go back home. I wondered why, but within ten minutes I knew. WHY IS THERE SO MUCH WIND IN FRANCE?!?
Those are really the only photos that I took while I was in Toulouse, since I spent the rest of my time attempting to struggle through conversations in French and subsequently having an even harder time when they started to try to speak English with me. Well, to be fair, their English is much better than my French, but it was always frustrating how all I had to do was nitro dice myself and the person already knew I wasn’t French. I guess I should adopt Marie as an alias when I am French parties, and then avoid ever saying anything else because then they’ll know from my accent. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I only understand half of whatever is being said to me ever here, but by hanging out with just French students who speak in French slang more than real words…it was a struggle. But the plus is that I did learn some ~kewl slang~ and I also helped a lot of people improve their English, hahah. I have to give the French population some props for all knowing English, despite their speaking level. If you spoke French in America to the average American, you would be met with a blank stare and a loud and obnoxious “WHAT?!”
Also, just to explain the title of this blog a little bit more, on Sunday afternoon I was starving and I had eaten literally all of the pasta present in his house, so we ordered pizza but I did not have the full amount in cash and his card wasn’t working when the delivery man came to the door. Unsure of what to do, we were told we could pay later, so I gave my friend my ten euro and assumed he would take care of it. Well, around 1am that night/morning, he decided to let me know that no, he had not paid the pizza place, and that I could have my ten euros back. This then led to a long and heated discussion about the police breaking down his door for 25 euros, but in the end, I made him keep my money with the hopes of the pizza place eventually being paid (in reality, I think he will have a nice meal tonight with that ten euro). Would they even give you the pizza in America if you didn’t have the money? I feel like using the honor system when you’re dealing with something like pizza is probably not the best business model, but okay France, keep doing that.
Now I am on the train back to Lyon, and I am very sad that this trip has come to an end because it was my last trip of my time in Europe. I could not be more thrilled that I picked Pula and Toulouse as the last two stops on the Molly Travels Europe Tour because they were both beautiful, relaxing and enlightening. Just like it always goes when you’re traveling alone, you learn a lot about yourself and have a bunch of time to observe others, and my time in Pula was a great opportunity for me to take a break from speaking French and from attempting to act less like an American than I really am. Toulouse was also a fantastic choice because it made me speak French, even if my friends will always mock me that I don’t speak enough French, and it was a great experience to meet a bunch of French people. SEE THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT?! THEY’RE REAL AND EVEN WILL POSE FOR PICTURES WITH ME YAY I’VE FINALLY IMMERSED MYSELF!!
After a series of run ins with mean French people, I was starting to doubt that there ever was a nice one, and going to Toulouse reminded me that humans are humans no matter where they are from. Yes, very inspirational, I know. But it’s the last time I’ll ever get to write about a trip I took here in Europe, so bare with me.
I feel like by the way I’m writing about this, it kind of seems like I am going to die when I go back to America from Europe, and I know that it isn’t that serious and that I still have a life in America, but with me coming back from Toulouse, it means that the end is finally near after me being able to avoid thinking about heading back to the United States. Whenever someone asked me in Toulouse when I was coming back to the United States, most people were surprised how soon it was, but I hadn’t even thought about it until the third time that happened. Yikes. I don’t want to come home yet, I’m not ready! There is still so much to see, do, eat and experience here in Europe, and the world as a whole. I talked to my friend while I was in Toulouse about traveling the world and he told me that he thought it was cool that I was traveling through Europe and seeing things that most Americans never will; this is another thing I had never thought about. Since I’m the one living my life, it just seems normal to me and its common sense I would go to Croatia for a few days because its awesome and sunny, but to others I guess it makes much less sense. I am very lucky and blessed to have been able to come to Europe and see and experience all of the things I have seen and experienced. There are so many things I wouldn’t have thought about and so many things I would have taken for granted if I had never lived in another country, and also my time here in Europe hasn’t made me fall completely in love and made me want to move here after I graduate, I very much enjoyed my time here and have made great friends with people of all different nationalities. While this may be the end of my European travels, my world traveling is just beginning.
I will have a few more posts on Molly is Pretending to be French before I leave, but while I am being sentimental, I might as well also throw on a thanks for reading my blog throughout this year. I hope you learned something about Europe, or at least had a laugh at my (mis)adventures. I will be seeing you all soon when I come back to America in about 15 days, but until then, get excited to read about how difficult my finals are / were and my many struggles with packing my French life into one suitcase to transport home. À bientôt!