Visite de Toulouse

I’ve come to Toulouse to learn french. And so far, it has been very easy to avoid speaking it. So this morning I signed up for the school’s tour of Toulouse to force myself to speak french. Sadly, there wasn’t enough interest, so they gave me the instructions (which were, at least, in French) and I wandered about on my own.

Toulouse Street

Toulouse is on a bend in the River Garonne, which starts in the PyrenĂ©es, and ends up in the Atlantic, via Bordeaux. The initial town was on the right bank, the higher bank, which generally survives flooding, unlike the poorer parts of town which don’t have the height or the soil to make it.

So of course, the major sights are the bridges across this mighty river, and in a nice confluence of my own interests, the Hospital on the left bank, which historically looked after pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, and (hopefully not at the same time) victims from infectious diseases, to keep them from infecting the town.

But there are also some lovely old historic buildings – the 1,000 year old Romanesque Basilica was worth taking a look inside (despite my surfeit of cathedrals) – the age, and the brick work, made it lovely.

Saint Sernin Basilica

And the Town Hall is grander than the Town Halls I’m used to – and includes a statue of Fermat (of Fermat’s last theorem) who spent most of his working life here. I suspect from reading about his life that the woman shown “helping” him in this statue was added by the artist just for a bit of fun.

This afternoon, I did have my first french class, and managed to both speak, and say the word actuary, in french, but that’s a story for my next blog post.

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