We decided that, being so close, we should visit Toulouse, though a short day wouldn't do it justice. Still, better to see a little and get a flavour of the place than to miss it completely, and our previous encounters have always been simply passing by on the peripherique.
So we headed back up the N20, then Deirdre led us of on an interesting excursion, crossing the Ariege and approaching Toulouse on a small road following the rive gauche of the Garonne. We had decided to park by the Basilica St Sernin, the "must see" church in Toulouse (especially for pilgrims) and our route took us up some of the main shopping streets - at a speed that allowed the females of the party to window shop! Not the ideal way to get from A to B, but useful on occassion - especially in the Galaxy with its big high windows. We also passed some of the interesting old buildings.
Anyway, we reached St Sernin, with its famous "wedding cake" tower.
The inside is vast, with doubles aisles and a walkway behind the sanctuary that allowed pilgrims to visit the relics (of which there are many) without disturbing the services. I'm not much into relics, but the scale and grandeur was impressive.
Down in the crypt, the girls sat with the 15th-century polychrome wood apostles.
This reliquary was typical of the treasures stored in the crypt.
The walls above the crypt featured various bas reliefs, also very impressive.
As we'd approached the Basilica we'd seen a Creperie, to which we retired for lunch. A pleasant cultural experience, eating on the pavement under the trees. And the crepes and galettes were good (OK, it's not very local, but it's fast real food!).
We then walked down Rue du Taur, down which St Saturnin (St Sernin) was dragged by a bull. Half way down the road is the church of Notre Dame du Taur, with this wall painting that illustrates the event.
At the far end of Rue du Taur is the Capitole, a huge open square with arcaded buildings on three sides and the Capitole itself (the city hall of Toulouse) on the east.
From the Capitole we returned to the car via important stopping points for females: Galeries Lafayette, Quiksilver, a stationer selling Diddl, shops selling Toulouse violet products and so on.
We then crossed the river (by car - over a bridge) to Les Abbatoirs. The old abattoir has been converted into a modern art gallery, and offered an opportunity for Rosie to do some homework. We were greeted by lines of animals (with eyes in strange places) coming up and going down.
Well, they use the space.
Outside the gallery we walked onto the banks of the Garonne, where I constructed this panorama.
And the girls had a rest...
We then headed back, slowly through the city traffic (and a close shave as I tried to take Galaxy plus roof box through a "souterrain" with 1.9m clearance - luckily I noticed and hastily exited right without hitting anyone!). We stopped to pickup a present for Marie-Helene then returned to Ville (the name of the farm).
A pleasant and relaxed evening followed, though the cameras stayed away. As ever, M-H had prepared a good spread, accompanied by home made aperitifs and good wine, and were joined by M-H's parents for dessert (and by mozzies, who fancied us as dessert!).
And so, our time at Cintegabelle is almost up. Must post this and get everyone moving - we're going the "direct" route to Arles-sur-Tech, which will take twice as long as the long motorway route, but goes via the mountains and Andorra. And the clouds that followed last night's thunder have cleared, and I can see clear blue sky over the palm trees....