IdealShortBreaks.co.uk travels to the southern French city of Toulouse, to find out the local secrets from resident Mélissa Buttelli.
So, you’ve brought me to your favourite cafe - tell me about it.
This is Le Père Louis, it is somewhat of a famous institution in the city and has been around since 1889, making it the oldest cafe in Toulouse. It is a very atmospheric place, the walls are covered in traditional wood with old fashioned fittings and beautiful old paintings are dotted around the place.
Mmm... this is good, what are we drinking?
It’s called quinquiná, a type of aperitif wine, which Le Père Louis is famous for. Quinquiná is also known as ‘Peruvian Bark’ because it was originally made from the Peruvian chinchona tree. The drink originated in South America and was introduced to Europe in the 17th century, where it became a kind of tonic and was even used to ward off malaria.
What are your favourite local dishes?
Toulouse is home to a melting pot of dishes from all over France, but is perhaps best known for its dishes made with duck, you can get duck anything here, from magret du canard, to confit du canard. It’s most famous dish which is unique to the city though, is Toulouse Casoulet, a kind of casserole made with duck, pork, beans and Toulouse sausages.
And where would you suggest I go to find these?
One of my favourite restaurants is Le Genty Magre, which is well known for its local cooking. It’s a small classy and friendly place run by Chef Romain Brard who has also worked in New York, he is famous for his fusion dishes hailing from Japan and America and his deserts which are small and beautiful like pieces of jewellery. The restaurant also has a sister cafe, Le Petit Magre, a more feminine place decorated in pastel colours of green and pink, which is the best place to go for afternoon tea and serves excellent delicate French pastries.
The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
Walk along the Garonne River to get beautiful views of the city and laze on the grassy banks in the sunshine. If you’re here between June and September 2012, then you should look out for the World Wide Water Celebration, where there will be all kinds of events happening down by the river.
And if it rains?
Of few of the more quirky things to do when it’s raining include visiting the Airbus factory, Europe’s largest aeronautical plant where the Airbus A380s are assembled. You can take a guided tour around the factory, which is a really interesting and different thing to do. You could also visit Le Cité de l’Espace, a great day out with the kids with interactive displays and an IMAX theatre.
If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
Just explore and walk around the city’s small streets. Toulouse is renowned for its private mansions and pretty courtyards which are all waiting to be discovered and you’ll really get to know the city, this way too.
Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know...
If you’re here at the weekend, then you should visit the Sunday market near Saint Aubin Church, which is like a small village community within the city. It’s a beautiful spot to relax on a Sunday morning with where you can taste local produce, listen to music and buy crafts and handmade wooden toys.