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Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toulouse

On Saturday in Toulouse, we attempted to go to Carcassonne, but when we got to the station, the train tickets were sold out. So we bought our tickets for Monday instead, and wandered around town. We came across Cathédrale Saint-Étienne, pushed open a huge door and stepped into the dark entryway.

The Cathedral was cold and damp, dimly lit by the grey morning skies, and the carved stone floor was easy to trip over as it had been worn down unevenly by millions of footsteps over the last thousand years. Of all the houses of worship in Europe, it’s not considered a jewel of either art or architecture (in fact, it is considered to be rather oddly cobbled together over the years), but we were still in awe of the tangible saturation of time and devotion.

14
Jun 2012
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France

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Toulouse Hospitality

In January, Tony scheduled a tattoo appointment for May 11 in Toulouse. An old friend of his happens to live there, so he emailed her to see if she would like to meet us for coffee while we were in town. Sharla, her husband, Laurent, (and fancy kitty friend Eugenie) ended up hosting us for five days. Despite the fact that Tony hadn’t seen Sharla in over a decade, Alicia had never met her, and neither of us had met Laurent, we had a great time. Sharla took us to a sorta-almost-secret spot to look out over the city, to a great crepes place, and on an evening walk through the park. Also, she makes really, really good granola.

Laurent’s parents, Jean-Pierre and Anna, were determined that their son’s American guests would have the opportunity to sample the best of French cuisine, so they hosted us for lunch on Sunday. After meeting their teenage and half-century old tortoises, we had champagne and sampled a variety of canard delicacies. There was magret séché de canard (salt-cured duck breast), three types of duck sausage, crispy fried duck skin, and some foie gras Jean-Pierre potted himself. Then came wine and salad and delicious cassoulet, which featured more duck sausage and duck legs. Then five different types of cheeses, ice cream and chocolates for dessert, and a sampling of the sole remaining bottle of Laurent’s grandfather’s homemade plum liquor.

It was a marvelous feast and we enjoyed every bite. Toulouse duck is far and away more delicious than any wild Mississippi River duck. Thank you Sharla, Laurent and family very much for your kind hospitality!

(The dinner photos in this post are courtesy of Jean-Pierre.)

13
Jun 2012
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France

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