Haute-Garonne

  • Perhaps no major city in France has been transformed over the past decade as much as Toulouse. The country’s fourth-largest city has grown more cosmopolitan, in part thanks to Airbus consolidating its headquarters in this region, bringing a greater international influence even as the city thankfully lacks the hordes of tourists found in other fashionable destinations. City leaders have been pouring money into frenzied renovations of seemingly every corner of its historic city center famed for its light-colored brick facades. Much of that work has wound down and the wraps have come off. So with the coronavirus lockdown over and…

  • With the confinement over, we’ve dusted off our bikes and have started exploring the region around Toulouse on Sunday mornings. Pedaling south, we kept the Garonne river on our right. After only 15 minutes, the landscape shifted from urban to rural, and for about an hour we had a pleasant journey over a mix of bike paths, bike lanes, and local roads. Le Parc du Confluent remains closed. After passing that, we were now along the Ariège River. We made it to the south end of Lacroix-Falgarde and passed the Pont de Fer, a small bridge that is badly in…

  • France’s craft beer boom has been building slowly for several years, but the impact of this hops revolution really struck me one summer evening while meeting a friend for a glass of wine. We had sat on the terrace of a bar across from the Marché de Carmes in Toulouse and ordered two glasses of red wine. As we waited for them to arrive, I noticed something odd as the waiter continued to take other orders. Young, old, middle age, they were all ordering beer. I craned my neck around and couldn’t see another glass or bottle of wine in…

  • The village of Saint-Rome, with its 40 official habitants, offers one of the more quirky sidebars in the southwest of France thanks to its legacy as a former utopian village. Last weekend, having just recently heard about Saint-Rome for the first time, we decided to visit and hike around to see just how much of its unusual past we could see. The village is about a 30 minute drive southeast from Toulouse, following the highway toward Carcassone. Unlike most historical sites in France, there aren’t a ton of guideposts and signs pointing the way. You just have to trust Google…

  • Tourism is serious business in France. And so this week, the Tourism Office of the Haute-Garonne Department held their annual press conference to explain their strategy for marketing their corner of France and attracting those economically important tourists. In a Department that stretches from the cosmopolitan city of Toulouse to the upper reaches of the Pyrénées, it’s a varied stretch. But seducing those tourists is critical, particularly for those small, independent businesses that produce local delicacies or run lodging of some sort. To that end, this year’s promotional focus will be: The Secret Haute-Garonne. Yes, people know about the big…

  • One of the things we love about Toulouse is how quickly we can escape from the city on the weekend and be in a place that feels remote. Thanks to some friends who organized a hike this weekend, we dashed out to the small village of Montgazin for a wonderful 2-hour walk. Mongazin is a blink-and-you-missed-it town about 45 minutes south of Toulouse. Its main feature is a chuch whose date of origin we couldn’t quite pinpoint. From the church parking lot, we walked straight back on the main local road which led us to a trail. You can see…

  • With last-minute getaways, sometimes you just get lucky. That was certainly the case for us when we left the Thursday after Christmas for a two-day escape to the Pyrénées. With no firm destination in mind, other than to just be in the mountains and away from work, our frenzied internet searches stumbled upon La Soulan, a gite and restaurant located just up the hill from the town of Boutx. Snow in the Pyrénées during winter vacances can be hit or miss, and this year it was definitely a miss. But instead, we found spectacular food at La Soulan and a…

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