Toulouse: South of Paradise

Travel — 10.09.18

Words by Desislava Todorova
Photography by Kerr McIlwraith

Most Brits associate the south of France with the Cote d’Azur but head further west to discover the charms of Toulouse, Montpellier and Sete.

We embarked on an improvised journey through some key locations in the South to understand why it has always been an inspirational location for so many artists – from Le Corbusier’s work La Cité Radieuse in Marseille to Jacquemus’ fascination with Provence.

Our first stop was Toulouse where the air is filled with the scent of violets. We visited the beautiful coastal town of Sète and Montpellier where gastronomic experiences are the ultimate expression of the French lifestyle.

This is an alternative guide to regaining your sense of freedom through the simple pleasures in life.

Le Paradis Gourmand – 45 Rue des Tourneurs, 31000 Toulouse, France

Le Paradis Gourmand
This shop, which specialises in sweets made from violets, is Toulouse at its best – warm, welcoming and delicious. With a vast variety of products ranging from candy to local nougat and hot chocolate sticks with various spices and fragrances, the sweet destination is essential for all visitors to this charming city.

L’autre Salon Au Thé
45a Rue des Tourneurs, 31000 Toulouse, France
The lemon meringue tarts stole our attention from souvenir shopping. Time for brunch. L’autre Salon Au Thé came as a well-deserved surprise. Apart from serving banoffee the size of a plate, the menu includes delicious freshly made seafood dishes with Mediterranean spices and seasonal vegetables.

The Japanese Botanical Garden – Boulevard Lascrosses 31000, Toulouse, France

The Japanese Botanical Garden
Despite the hordes of tourists and wedding ceremonies, this garden offers a spot for an afternoon nap after brunch or simply for a book date. Stroll to the pagoda overlooking the zen lake and take a minute to admire the bonsai trees down the main alley.

Crêperie “Le Kreisker”
3 Passage Bruyas, 34000 Montpellier, France
Sometimes all you need is a perfect French crêpe. Le Kreisker is what the French call le bon lieu. It’s simple, accessible, well-priced and fantastic in terms of value versus quality and, size of portions. We highly recommend the almond filled pancake with almond ice cream. For a savoury choice, try duck breast with goat cheese and ricotta.

A stunning pearl of the South and one of the hidden treasures of the coast. Conveniently situated between Toulouse off the main road to Montpellier, this harbour town is famed for its relaxed nature. Get lost in the streets, stroll down the coast, and have an ice cream on the harbour – there’s a beautiful view of yachts, Hockney-esque colours and French Nouvelle Vague cinematic aesthetics. Feel like you’re in a Jean-Luc Goddard film. Perfection!

For more information on Toulouse and nearby attractions, visit the Toulouse Tourist Board website.