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Trip Report Toulouse, The Dordogne(based in Sarlat) and Paris

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Thanks to all the Fodorites who helped in the planning of our trip. We have been to Paris many times but The Dordogne was a new area of France for us to visit.

Our flight from Chicago to Paris to Toulouse was long but uneventful. 3 movies, part of a good book, some better than average food & wine on Air France, and we had arrived.
Cab to hotel--40 Euro

TOULOUSE
Hotel de l"Opera was the perfect choice. Right on Capitole Square the location could not have been better. The lobby and public were decorated in a fantastic old world French style that suited the area perfectly.

Our room booked through Expedia at $202 per night was nicer than anticipated. Small, but larger than most Euopean hotel rooms in this price range, it was extremely comfortable. King bed, room to walk around a little, marble bathroom, high end finishes, the only thing it lacked was a view. There are only a few rooms in the hotel with a view and at a much higher cost of course.

I also must mention the staff. Friendly, informative, and efficient, and they really seemed to enjoy their job. The hotel should be proud of the way they represent the property and the city of Toulouse.

After relaxing for a while we went out to find a simple dinner. Any gourmet, expensive meal would have been wasted on 2 very tired, jet-lagged travelers.

The evening was warm and the square was filled with attractive outside cafes. We strolled along reading the menus until we found just what we wanted. Cafe Les 3 Tenors and the best, gooey cheeseburger & thin fries we had in a long time anywhere.

OK, stop screaming! So, we are a little odd choosing a cheeseburger & fries for a first dinner in France, but after being up for 24+ hours we were fading in the stretch and needed comfort food and some sleep. We did add some wine which made it seem more French. Our server was very friendly and spoke some English so it was an easy experience. He suggested a special dessert of bananas, chocolate, & whipped cream--yummm! At 55 Euros, it was a good deal All carbed up it was time for some serious sleep.

It was raining in the morning so after breakfast we took an umbrella and headed to Foundation Bemberg--6 Euros each for entry. They have a nice selection of artwork(mostly 17th cantury) in a beautiful old building. It was a good choice to spend a rainy hour or so.

Next we stopped at Jacobins Church. Absolutely stunning. The inside stained glass windows reminded us of St. Chapelle in Paris. Tall, thin, and next to each other, they soared up to a spectacular vaulted ceiling(about the height of a 4-5 story building.) The room was huge and imposing. Mostly empty, only a small altar and a few pews in one part.

We walked along in the cavernous room and could see large, round, skirted, mirrored table at the far end. What was it for? Were they putting up an exposition?

Curious, we strolled over and found several small tented signs on top of the mirror that said "Don't Touch." Don't touch what??? There was nothing on this approx. 12 ft. diameter table with a gigantic pillar in the middle of it.

I walked up to the edge, looked down into the mirror, and BOOM! My heart stopped, my stomach flipped, and I grabbed onto my husband. You see I'm not very good with heights and looking down into that mirror was like looking into the abyss.

It's hard to describe or photograph but the mirror reflected up to the extremely tall height of the ceiling. It was like standing at the edge of a high place with no railing looking down into infinity---YIKES! We then stood and watched many people walk to the mirror, look down, and jump back.

Our photos of this site weren't up to our standards so I'll add a link to Bing photos.
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=jacobins+church%2c+toulouse%2c+france&qpvt=jacobins+church%2c+toulouse%2c+france&FORM=IGRE

We then moved on to St. Sernin, the most famous site in Toulouse. Built in the 11th Century, it is another architecural beauty. Most of the inside is free, but you can pay a few Euros more to see an additional part of the church.

Both of these churches were outstanding and worth your time.

Time for lunch. Actually we were starving and looking for a good place when what did we find? "ONE DISH." Perfect! I know some of you don't like this restaurant but we do. The first time we ate there was in Paris a few years ago. We wandered in and ask for a menu and the server said, "One Dish!" They start out bringing you a salad with a light dressing, then a huge plate of thin fries arrives with a silver, covered dish with thin sliced steak in a sauce. In a few minutes they return with more. All they ask is how you want your steak done. They have a good wine list and, if you can fit it in, they have a variety of desserts at an added cost. It was 17 Euro each for lunch (I believe it's about 28 Euros each for the same dinner.) If you're really hungry, this is the place to go. There are several locations in Paris.

More food-----it's a good thing we are walking a lot! Dinner was at Les Arcades on Capitole Square. Our server suggested a nice veal dish. Baked in a tasty sauce with noodles & vegetables, it was a good choice. Along with some Rose wine, apple pie, and rum cake----I'm never eating again!
63 Euros--again a good deal and the people watching at a table on the square was a wonderful way to spend an evening.

The next morning we were scheduled to pick up a car at the train station and move on to Sarlat. We had to try Le Bibent (Christian Constant) for breakfast. It was steps away from the hotel. Wow! What a room. We felt like we in a gorgeous mansion. Croissants, baguettes, cheese, ham, fresh fruit, oj, coffee, and the best scrambled eggs served in individual iron pots----can you say butter & cream to die for! We wish we were here another night to have dinner in this lovely place.

All in all, we really enjoyed Toulouse and wished we had stayed another day. Since it was raining during most of the day we didn't see much along the river. There were so many sites, shops, and restaurants in walking distance from the Hotel de L'Opera. It started out as a place to get over jet lag until we started driving and ended up to be a fabulous city.

Here's a few photos of the hotel, square,and St. Sernin:
http://s708.beta.photobucket.com/user/TMPAYT/library/Toulouse%20France

On to Sarlat-------

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