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May 5th 2019
Published: May 5th 2019
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Canal du MidiCanal du MidiCanal du Midi

This looks pretty peaceful. From the bridge, you can't see the road work going on behind us.
Here we are again, travelling in France on a Saturday. The day started well with our trip to the market in Arles (see last blog). It got even better as we approached Toulouse on the train and I noticed we didn’t have to cross the river; it was the Canal du Midi we had to cross. Frequent blog readers will know the only thing I like better than churches and aqueducts are canals, especially the Canal du Midi.

Toulouse

The not so good news was that they are doing a bunch of road work right outside the station where the canal passes and it was quite an ordeal getting away from the station. But that was nothing. What we hadn’t realized was that Toulouse was the city that had been selected as the main target of the Gilets Jaune protests for that Saturday. As we passed several banks with broken windows, one with the window frame ripped right out of the wall, we noted many flashing police lights and clouds of smoke (tear gas?) ahead of us. Hmmmmm. Turned left and tried to get around the protest area. No luck, more protesters. We stopped to plan a
Gilets Jaune protestsGilets Jaune protestsGilets Jaune protests

A lot of this going on.
new course of attack.

We were standing on a street corner with our hard copy Google Map and offline maps.me on our iPad mini when a lady on a bicycle stopped to ask if she could help. We told her where we wanted to go; she put it in her cell phone, studied it for a minute then told us to follow her. Ten or fifteen minutes later she pointed to an apartment and told us we were there. Unbelievable! There was no way I could have found the route she took us. How kind of her.

Our reason for being in Toulouse was twofold: to rent a car for our trip to Aurignac and to fly to Brussels for the last stop of our 2019 trip. We only had one day so what will we do? Go for a walkabout. We saw lots of bridges, churches, hospitals and, best of all, canals. Toulouse is after all, the place where the Canal du Midi comes up from the Mediterranean and the Canal Latéral à la Garonne goes down to Bordeaux and the Atlantic. The canals are no longer used to ship goods from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic
Aftermath of Gilets Jaune protestsAftermath of Gilets Jaune protestsAftermath of Gilets Jaune protests

Lots of plywood got used this afternoon.
eliminating the need to sail around Spain and Portugal but they are used for recreation in a big way. It seemed strange to stroll down the paths beside the canal and to think about the effort required to build the original canal in the 1660s and the others canals in the 1700s. These same tracks were used by teams of animals to pull the various boats and barges up and down stream.

Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France so it must have tons of interesting things. We saw many on our walkabout including hospitals dating from the 13th century. Some of these were built on the “other” side of the river (from the old city) to serve the poor, orphans, travelers and prostitutes (it says so on a sign). Being on the “other” side kept plague victims isolated from the rest of the city.

We enjoyed cappuccinos and goodies at a canal side pâtisserie so much we went back in and bought lunch a emporter which we ate in the beautiful Japanese gardens also along the canal. During our stroll in the gardens we encountered some playground equipment with a huge climbing apparatus that
MarathonMarathonMarathon

We stepped out of our Airbmb and nearly got trampled by a marathon running down our street.
brought back memories of an episode four years before. I resisted the temptation to climb on it.

Our circle tour of the canals took us back by the railway station where the next day we would rent our car. We always like to scope out our getaway location. It was a good thing we did as the location of the car rental was well hidden. The gal we talked with was very helpful and assured us we wouldn’t have any problems. We’ll see.

Getaway

Because we were driving to our next location, our time frames were a little more flexible than usual. On one of our trips, Dianne’s charger cord for her camera went missing. We decided to try the Fnac store in Toulouse to find a replacement. Fnac had provided me with a couple of good replacement parts in the past. Google maps showed a location more or less on our way to the train station. Making mental notes of the route anywhere in an old city is fraught with peril. Roads change name at the drop of a hat, they curve all over especially around traffic circles. We got particularly turned around and it was
The GaronneThe GaronneThe Garonne

Starts in Spain and runs through Toulouse to Bordeaux and the Atlantic. Looks peaceful in the foreground but there is a weir across the river necessitating a canal to bypass the rough water.
too sunny to read the screen on my iPad. We gave up on finding Fnac and decided to head for the station. After about 100 yards we ended up in front of Fnac. Talk about dumbass luck (mine, not Dianne’s). Fnac is the French equivalent of Best Buy. The hardest thing is to find the department you want because their product range is so great. Success!

We were so far ahead of schedule that we were able to stop for cappuccinos! That solved our scheduling situation; the service was so slow we had to hustle to get to the car rental at the time we had reserved. The gal we had talked to the day before wasn’t there but the chap who was there was not only very helpful but he had a great sense of humour. Not easy in two languages. The gal from the previous day showed up and the four of us had quite a chat before we left. Part of it was her hand drawing a map of how to get out of the parking structure, navigate through all the road construction by the train station, and negotiate our way to the A64 which would
Hotel Dieu Saint JacquesHotel Dieu Saint JacquesHotel Dieu Saint Jacques

The first hospital appeared here in the 12th century and gradually expanded to become the largest hospital in Toulouse in the 17th and 18th century. It housed patients until 1987 and now contains administrative offices. It is still a beautiful sight.
take us towards Aurignac.

We obviously made it out of town. But it was not without adventure. ToBeContinued!


Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


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L'Écluse Saint-PierreL'Écluse Saint-Pierre
L'Écluse Saint-Pierre

This lock is at the entrance to Le Canal de Brienne which allowed boats to bypass the rough waters on the Garonne. It later connected to the Canal Latéral à la Garonne in the 1840s. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be used any more.
More canalMore canal
More canal

Just think how many people have walked along this canal since it was built.
Two canals for the price of oneTwo canals for the price of one
Two canals for the price of one

There are actually three canals that meet here but the picture couldn't fit them all in. The sculpture was added in 1773.
Bridge sculpture up closeBridge sculpture up close
Bridge sculpture up close

A bit of detail on the sculpture made of marble.
Japanese gardenJapanese garden
Japanese garden

I don't know how they make these neat patterns in the gravel but they are beautiful.
ArchitectureArchitecture
Architecture

These great apartments had great views of tree lined streets. Seems like a lovely place to live. Except for the parking.
Le Jardin RoyalLe Jardin Royal
Le Jardin Royal

The building in the previous picture was on the street coming towards the park from the top of the picture. Very restful pace to be.
A guy can dreamA guy can dream
A guy can dream

I wasn't allowed to climb this structure. Do you think history might repeat itself?
My sizeMy size
My size

Dianne said I could climb on this one but we saw a sign saying ages 1-6. Too bad.
Antoine de Saint-ExupéryAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Not everything in France is old. This sculpture was commissioned in 2000 in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. I knew he was an author but learned about his other careers including his wartime experiences.
Definitely a new sculptureDefinitely a new sculpture
Definitely a new sculpture

But what is it? The sign says "This is not a game. For reasons of security, don't climb on it"
ArchitectureArchitecture
Architecture

We love looking at the old buildings.
Our trusty chariotOur trusty chariot
Our trusty chariot

This little beast would be our transportation out into the hills of southern France. Love the red color. So much better than a white rental car.


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