A street in pink Toulouse
We visited Toulouse (la Ville Rose), of course, and had an excellent lunch above its covered market which I will soon come to. Otherwise, it's the 4th largest city in France with a vibrant economy and a relatively young population thanks to its old and famous University giving it the 3rd largest student population in France.
Saint Sernin Basilica with its Bell Tower
The city is situated on the Garonne river in the Southwest and is halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. When we started walking in the city, we noticed that the population there was quite mixed, meaning that you come across other races easily and there are many exotic restaurants lining the streets. A good sign.
Capitole de Toulouse
There are interesting buildings in the old city, but the city in general didn't particularly impress us. I guess that we are not too much into bricks. The highlight of our visit was actually lunch at Au Bon Graillou, a restaurant situated just above a very good covered market in the heart of town.
View of the street from the 1st floor of the covered market
SIL recommended the restaurant and I must admit that she has good taste. We love restaurants like that - vive, hearty, simple and good. We knew a number of similar restaurants when we were living in Paris and they don't seem to exist much outside of France. The setting, as you can imagine, is far from chic. But was it full! It was past 1pm and there were still loads of people waiting for a table, many sipping wine as they did so.
Grilled Scallops with Red Pepper & Cream Sauce
The whole menu was written on a blackboard and it comprised mainly of beef, duck and fish. The children's menu (a good-sized bavette with fries, home-made sauce and a real dessert) went for 10 euros and the adult's fixed menu for 17. Such a good value. I ordered from the main menu and the portions were of course bigger and the choice wider - and even then it was good value for money.
Bavette with Salad and Fries, sauce Oignons Confits
The food was really good. I've missed having such choice in a small restaurant : grilled fresh sardines, scallops, gambas or fish, foie gras in terrine or pan-fried, different cuts of the beef (with lovely sauces), duck, salads, lovely desserts - and all accompanied by their own sides. Even the wine was cheap and good - Hub kept saying that he could taste blackcurrants in his.
Raspberry and White Chocolate Tart
If you should visit Toulouse, book a table (they usually do 2 services) there and I daresay that you'll not be disappointed. For such a busy restaurant the young waiters were quite cool and nice, nothing at all like the grouchy French waiters we've all grown to expect and even like. We were so tempted to go back again on our way to the Dordogne region a few days later - but parking in Toulouse not being easy, we had to give up the idea.
Restaurant Au Bon Graillou
Marché Victor Hugo (1er ètage)
Tel : 05 61 21 80 19