A Weekend getaway in Toulouse

Toulouse, France
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Why Toulouse for a weekend?

What is the scariest thing you can think of when on a trip? Not having booked the next trip!

This can easily be a weekend getaway for e.g. in Toulouse. While having dinner during a cold night in Riga, we realized we didn’t have any trips planned for next year yet. After a few minutes of browsing Skyscanner, we found cheap tickets for Toulouse, 3 days- 29€ (with return) per person. This is how we decided to book our trip to Toulouse!

Our love affair with France is never-ending: its good food, wine, weather, and culture make it always a nice weekend break spot to go to. Maybe Toulouse is not a big bucket list trip, but these small weekend breaks allow us to feel more inspired and refreshed and ready to come back to the routine.

Itinerary

Day 1- Blagnac and AviaSim flying simulation

City of Toulouse

Toulouse is the 4th largest city in France and according to a recent survey, French people find it to be one of the most attractive cities in France to live in. The city is also famous for being home to Airbus headquarters. The company is one of the largest employers in town and employs roughly 16 000 people, which is a lot given that the number of people living in Toulouse round 471 000.

AviaSim Flight Simulation

Flight Simulation, AviaSim, Toulouse

On the first day, after arriving mid-day, we went straight to our Flight Simulator activity we booked before arriving. When browsing, we checked what to do in the city. We were looking for fun things to do and found that flight simulation was one of them.

Why flight simulation? Two reasons led us to this: first, we got quite scared when our flight back from Argentina had strong turbulence, and we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; secondly, because we are flying so much we wanted to understand better how a plane and how flying works.

We’re not gonna lie, it’s expensive to “fly a plane”. We paid 168€ – 84€ per person for a total of 1.10h – break down into 10min briefing intro and 1h flight duration. In the end, we were there for 2h, because we had a lot of questions. We could choose whatever airport we wanted in the world. There was a student pilot and a more experienced one that sat with us for the first half-hour. The experience was very informative and different as we went through several scenarios. First, we imagined that one of the plane’s engines would catch fire and we had to deal with it.

For this, there is a sequence of steps in place, which in real life it should take about 30 secs to go through. However for us, it took around 15 min to go through everything. Second, we try to land in one of the hardest airport strips in the world, the Kai Tak airport. This was an international airport based in Hong Kong that closed in 1998 (Kai Tak airport video). This airport became famous for its technical difficulty, as pilots had to maneuver the plane in such a way, so that it would be able to fly above buildings and between hills. Check the video to see. We had no clue and it was lots of fun.

Flying a Plane!

There are so many buttons and things to look out for, when you’re in a plane’s cockpit. It is like being in a video game. We flew a commercial plane and steered it with a joystick. For most of the flight course, we were in auto mode as that is the best way to fly the plane. For take-off and landing, we had to switch to manual mode and that took a constant readjustment of direction in a “smooth” way if you can say that.

In the end, they offered us a printed photo and some coffee to drink. Important to say is that their English might not be the best, so get ready to practice some French. However, we had the whole tour in English and had a pretty good experience! Overall, we would recommend it to anyone that wants to have a glimpse of what it is to fly millions of passengers every day.

Exploring Toulouse

When we finished the flight simulation, it was already end of the afternoon. As such, we decided to head out to our Airbnb – le studio cozy des Jardins- center Ville. We used Uber to get there, as we found out to be the quickest way to go around. The flight simulator was located close to the airport so we hadn’t even gone to the city yet. Our Airbnb was located close to Toulouse’s center. It was a small, cozy studio that we paid 113.54€ for both, for 2 nights.

a week getaway in Toulouse, France

We rested for a bit and decided to go for a walk and explore the city. At night, the streets of Toulouse were quite charming and lively with people going out and about, even though it was winter. The temperature ranged between 12oC – 15oC, a bit cold but no rain, better than Dublin for sure.

We wandered around aimlessly for a while, absorbing the energy around us. After 1h or so, we ended up at a bar called QuinQuina Bar, for a couple of wines. The lady, owner of the place was super nice and friendly. She attracted mostly locals that went there for a friendly chit chat. The vibe was very special.

It felt like you were meeting all your friends in a bar you always go to, and where you know everyone that shows up there. It had a familiar feeling to it, like we were going out on a regular night to relax after work. The owner, was always talking with everyone and brought some snacks to eat with the wine, free of charge. We liked it so much that we went back the next day as well.

Delicious French duck

Winter Garden restaurant, dinner, Toulouse

We stayed for a while in the bar, also because the restaurants weren’t opening until 7.30 pm and we weren’t sure where we were going yet. We ended up eating at the Winter Garden. A nice, young, and modern restaurant in a narrow street, offering an informal setting and good quality food. It wasn’t expensive, although not the cheapest we ate and it offered one of the main proteins that French people eat in Toulouse, duck.

The highlight was the duck fillet in lemon confit sauce, accompanied by homemade Gratin Dauphinois along with salad, delicious bread (with a funny looking greenish butter, which was quite good) and of course red wine. It was an orgasmic meal! Even now we are drooling over the menu and the pictures. You cannot find that in Dublin, sorry. For dessert, we tried the famous crème brûlée and expresso to finish off.

Day 2- Toulouse walking tour

To go into the heart of Toulouse, if you have the chance, you should explore the surrounding three canals, of which Canal du Midi is the biggest and measures a length of 240km throughout Southern France. The city offers a nice pleasant climate combined with a soft breeze coming from its main river La Garonne.

When it comes to French breakfasts, you just have to choose from the world of pastries that French bakeries have to offer. This goes for Toulouse and all of France pretty much. Some are bigger than others, and they usually have coffee as well. We head out to one of Toulouse’s numerous bakeries and grabbed a few chocolatines, croissants, etc. Needless to say, our breakfasts weren’t exactly diet-friendly. In a way it’s good we don’t live there.

La Ville Rose or Pink city

As the weather didn’t seem it was going to rain, we decided to join a free walking tour in the morning. Our guide Harry was funny and super excited about the city he has been living in for almost 20 years. He took us around the old town center, explained the history behind the several churches and buildings that were built out of brick and stood high and mighty in front of us. This along with some bloody stories to spice things up.

The tour gave us a good glimpse of how life was like, all those centuries ago. It was fun and informative. The narrow streets and the city’s unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose or the Pink City, make it a very charming town to wander around without feeling that you are in a big city. Also, walking around the city you can feel its young and vibrant life, with a mix of students and working folks. This great combo makes it a very attractive city to live in.

Victor’s Hugo Market

Victor's Hugo Market, food, Toulouse

Wherever you walk around, you’ll always be able to find one of its three main spots and some of our favorites: Victor Hugo’s market, Wilson Square Toulouse and Place Saint-Pierre by the river, a place where you can shoot great time-lapses (for those of you that are into photography or videography).

Victor’s Hugo Market looks ugly from the outside – it used to be a parking lot – but once you go inside you find heaven of cheeses, cold meats, fresh produce, and all the good stuff. It opened in 1892 and is the largest market in Toulouse with over 100 vendors. On the bottom floor, you find the numerous stands selling all the products that make a belly very happy, and on the second floor there’s plenty of restaurants to choose from that offer food made with those same products.

Eating in Toulouse

The time we went there, around lunchtime, it was packed and we didn’t even bother to try and find a seat. We ended up our tour relaxing by the shores of the Garonne.

Free Walking tour, Toulouse

We found out that restaurants in Toulouse are not open for food in the middle of the afternoon. Lunchtime is between 12pm-2pm and 7pm-9pm. This applies even to Kebab/Pizza places. Because of this, we wandered around for a while looking for a Café to rest our feet and drink some coffee. Shortly after, we headed back to our favorite bar in town, QuinQuina, and chatted until it was time to eat some nice dinner.

We didn’t manage to find something special enough, but our evening finished with a cheap dinner at Bistro Regent. We enjoyed more duck and wine, and as we felt tired, while the streets were slowly filling up, we headed back to our Airbnb.

Overall, we found that restaurants and bistros in Toulouse offered a good price/quality when comparing with Dublin.

Day 3 – Last day

We woke up early enough to the sound of light rain. It was Sunday, so the streets were empty. We decided to head to the market, one of the only places open so early and check out the bustling scene of people going about their daily Sunday market shopping. We joined the crowd and grabbed the inevitable chocolatine and croissant.

French bread, pastries and French literature

We also grabbed some bread to take home with us to Dublin, as we were flying back that day. French markets are the best. It doesn’t matter which French city we travel to, there is always one around the corner. If you have a chance don’t miss it, they are mouth-watering. As we enjoyed our last day in the city, we used the time to do some literary shopping at Fnac. We grabbed some books that are cheaper to buy there than ordering online and relaxed for the remaining time. 

breakfast, chocolatine, croissant, a week getaway in Toulouse

We took some last sips of air and grabbed an Uber to the airport, au revoir La Ville Rose, and see you next time!

Visa

No visa is needed for European citizens.

Budget

We spent per person: 29€ in flights, 84€ for the flight simulation, 56€ accommodation for 2 nights and between 40€-50€ for 2 meals. A good tip is to have cash with you, especially for the bakeries and the market.

French Language tips

If you speak a bit of French and like chocolate, you should know that in Toulouse they don’t say Pain au Chocolat but Chocolatine.

Places we didn’t go

A place we didn’t visit but heard has a great view from the city is the Jacobins Convent. But, if you don’t want to pay, there is always the free alternative Galerie Lafayette – go all the way to the 6th floor.

If you are a plane nerd, check out the Airbus factory, tickets start at 15.50€.

Souvenirs, a week getaway in Toulouse

Links

Flight Simulation – Different companies are selling these packages we went through some reviews and found this company to be the best.

Free walking tours