In the 1976 film Maîtresse (English title: Mistress), a character looking at a Parisian map laments, "There are too many avenues named after Jean Jaurès."The next day we fell in love with Toulouse, with its grandiose red brick buildings, threaded through by the gorgeous Canal du Midi and the wide Garonne. I reckon it's the perfect size for a city, the fourth largest in France, with around a million people, and the one of those sweet underground systems with only three lines. And it was awfully Occitan, with the street names written in two languages and people talking with a twang in their accents. They do love their red brick!- even the churches- even the twelfth-century churches- everything. It looks lovely in the bright southern sun. I went to a wicked modern art gallery in an old -red brick- abattoir and saw some great drawings by Antonio Saura. Especially loved the illustrations for Don Quixote. (I have been thinking, and if I actually HAD to pick the greatest novel ever, it might well be Don Quixote. Picking Ulysses, which is what everyone always seems to do, is like picking Jaffa Cakes as the greatest biscuit ever.) In the evening we went to the oldest wine bar in Toulouse and sipped posh-arse wine out of playmobil-sized glasses. Then something amazing happened- we found a restaurant that sold Real Curry! Like you get in Britain! Awesome. I practically kissed the waitress when she brought the bill over. Do you know how long its been? Of course we did a little shopping, and saw the fruit markets and the brocantes on the Sunday morning, and the botanical gardens at great speed, and as we raced to the station on our last day we remembered a little bottle of wine for the guy who fed our cat. I had been pissed enough on the Saturday night that I happily slept all the way back to St Pierre des Couilles, the annoying suburban station that serves Tours. (Our main station is not big enough to take all the trains it needs, so they run a shuttle made out of recycled cans back and forth.) There is a moral to this story, children, and it is one of my mottos, so listen carefully:
Fed up? Raining? Don't like your life? Run away!