We discover the sights and smells of Toulouse and the South of France
August 12-16, 1999:
As soon as we got on the road, we could tell we were in a much more permissive country than the British isles. This ad wasn't hanging around in the back of some dubious men's magazine.
The French are enthralled by Hillary.
And American Movies.
"Don't forget your evening dress this summer."
The roads here are wonderful. Wide, straight, few potholes, and often lined with trees.
Free-camping is much more of a 'thing' here in France. We see lots of people doing it. Here we found a rest stop which was practically a free campground, complete with shady parking spots, bathrooms, water and picnic tables.
We met fellow travelers like this Cambodian Buddhist Monk, crossing the western world to promote Enlightenment. Next week he's at the Vatican for an ecumenical symposium to promote Peace.
These boys in Montagnac are using gravity to get around. The little guy on the left has no skateboard, so he just gets to watch.
Shopping is always an adventure. The street merchants still sell eggs by the piece.
And they still use the balance scales -- we had to buy whole units.
This woman ran a fruit stand by the side of the road. She was very good and we bought too much stuff, partly cause she had yummy samples, and partly because once we expressed any interest in an exotic looking bunch of grapes, suddenly she'd weighed out a bagful with her scale.
Toulouse is a city built out of "Toulousian Brick," and the city is tinged pink as a result.
This unusual octagonal belfry adorns the Basilica of Saint Sernin, which is the largest Romanesque (i.e. not-Gothic --> smaller windows, not so tall, no flying buttresses) church in France.
It was started in 1080 to accommodate hoards of passing pilgrims and inside they display their antiquities.
This hat is from the 1200s (eight hundred years old).
They have nine chapels containing reliquaries like this one which have remains of the saints contained within.
A model of St. Sernin hangs behind the apse.
Another architectural stunner in Toulouse is Les Jacobins, an surprisingly modern layout for a church.
Instead of being at one end, the altar is in the middle of the church with the congregation spread around on either side.
More like an auditorium than a classroom.
On the more modern front, Toulouse is the center of the Aérospatial, the French Aerospace industry (think 'Arianne Rocket' and 'Airbus'). This technical savvy seems to have shown up in its people.
Glen here not only got us access to the internet, but showed us how to network our computer through the printer port so we could connect easier at other internet cafes.
(We actually connected the old fashioned way.)
And finally for a treat, we got took ourselves to the gargantuan body of water the Toulousians call 'The Summer Pool.'
At the far end you can see an arena that surrounds the smallest pool in this complex -- this small one's the size of an expansive Stateside Olympic lap swimming pool.
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