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otherchelebi Feb 12th, 2020 02:02 AM

Toulouse & Occitanie 8 Days
Envious of DW who will be going to visit DD, SIL and GD in Chicago, but fully awed by her energy and beauty after forty years of marriage, I bought very good priced tickets to visit especially the region I had recommended my daughter
for her honeymoon, Languedoc. Turkish airlines has special prices, apparently flying for only the cost of taxes, fuel charges and similar, to Marseilles, Bordeaux and Toulouse.

We had already been to the Southern coast and were not interested in a very busy port., or potentially unfriendly inhabitants. Toulouse was the most attractive in terms of its friendly reputation and its region. It also provided the shortest
route to Chateau de la Caze, where we could stay replicating DD's honeymoon. Not in terms of action but just location.

Trip is for late April and early May
I am a reasonably mobile seventy five and DW is an energetic 60.
We like anything interesting, old and new.
We like pastoral settings and mysterious places.
We like both city centers and small villages.
We are open to eating anything (taking care of my diabetes.)
I do not enjoy walking more than a mile at a time and threer miles a day at most.
- We love festivals fetes, farmers markets, local arts and crafts
We like french coffee
I like to taste and DW likes to drink wine.

Eser does not speak French. I can fake it somewhat.if I can dig back in my memory of fifty five years ago when I spent three months in France.
We do not have a large budget, so we can handle only three nights at more expensive lodging, two pricey restaurants. We like to make our own sandwiches with cheese and charquterie.
We are fine with au bon pain or similar.

Our immediate thoughts are as follows:
- Rent car
- Stay in Toulouse because of late afternoon arrival
- Pick a budget hotel like Ibis with free parking close to city center.
- Next morning, short drive around town and then to Ste Enimie for the chateau de la Caze.
- Enjoy the area ?????
- Slowly drive West towards St Cirq Lapopie
- Find a charming B&B en route.
- Visit Fodorite StCirq
- Drive South, past Toulouse to Carcassonne
- Stay at or near Carcassonne.(4th night)
- Drive to Narbonne (and?) Perpignan
- Stay at village or small town B&B
- Drive West towards Andorra

- 6th night ??
- 7th night ???

Final night in Toulouse at a more comfortable hotel (preferably Novotel or Sofitel due to membership advantages)

We do not have to get to Andorra or even climb the French Pyrenees.

Some quick questions:
- should we stay at Carcassonne and or Perpignan city center?

Any and all suggestion re route after St. Cirq, hotels, B&Bs, great scenery, unmissable smaller castles, great art, great architecture, great food,
forests, gorges, streams, lakes (not so much caves and caverns)

Just a note : We have had visits to Italy, Spain, Eastern Germany, Austria and Czech republic, Finland, Latvia, England and other parts of France.

StuDudley Feb 12th, 2020 06:38 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Attached is my itinerary for the Languedoc.

Stu Dudley

jpie Feb 12th, 2020 08:49 AM

Just a couple of thoughts. If you like cassoulet, then you might want to have lunch in Castelnaudary, the home of the dish. We love a little restaurant just outside the village that is family run. It is kind of a funky placement behind a gas station but has a lovely garden and they have 2 alpaca in the garden. The cassoulet is the best we have had in the village. The restaurant is called Le Tirou.

In Toulouse we like to stay in the area between Place St George and Capitole. I know there is the Ibis capitole hotel in that area. Also I have taken visitors on the "petit train" that leaves from Capitole as a 1 hour guided tour of the city and it is great way to get an overview of the city-fun and informative.

Looking at your proposed drive you will go through Albi which would make a good stop to see the Toulouse Lautrec museum

An Exceptional Place | Musée Toulouse Lautrec

You will also pass through Rodez and there are a number of what they call the "most beautiful villages in France" that kind of radiate out from that area in a star shape:

The most beautiful villages of Aveyron | RODEZ - Aveyron Midi-Pyrénées

otherchelebi Feb 12th, 2020 09:08 AM

Thank you Stu, Have quickly looked through. Huge amount of information
I have to sift through because we do not have the possibility of staying more than eight days.

Seems that we should increase our single nights at some locations and not visit any more places than I listed.
I hope restaurants you enjoyed are still open

Are restaurants, cafes and bakeries also closed Sundays and Mondays?

Should we really stay in Toulouse last two nights or choose another idyllic place just outside the city, possibly close to the airport?

jpie Feb 12th, 2020 09:13 AM

Originally Posted by otherchelebi (Post 17062693)
Should we really stay in Toulouse last two nights or choose another idyllic place just outside the city, possibly close to the airport?

For me it would depend on what day and what time of day your flight leaves. Traffic into Toulouse can be heavy on weekday at rush hour time in the morning and then away from the city in the evening. We have stayed near the airport but it wasn't particularly scenic-just stayed there for convenience.

otherchelebi Feb 12th, 2020 09:18 AM

Thank you Ipie, some very good advice and recommendations. We like bean stews but have never had cassoulet, so we shall surely try.

The trip is acquiring more boundaries now. Adding Rodez and Albi, we may need to drop Perpignan.

Can we decide as we go along, or do we need to make all lodging reservations in advance?
My plan is to do the first night and the second night tomorrow and possibly the last two nights as soon as possible; leaving the rest to chance.

Coquelicot Feb 12th, 2020 09:29 AM

OC, I don't have any specific advice, but I will say prepare yourself to write us a trip report. You're going to have a great time and we'll want to hear all about it.

Whenever we go to a new place I use to look up historic buildings, bridges, fountains, anything that's on the Monuments Historiques list. I see that Toulouse has a long list of such places. I clicked on one just to see and this beautiful photo of a dry dock popped up. (You have to page down; the photos are always below the map.)

jpie Feb 12th, 2020 10:32 AM

I think for late April early May you should be able to leave some of the nights open-we have done that before without issue. Especially since that time of year you probably won't need A/C etc.

I think you might be wise to skip Perpignan simply because there is so much to see in the regions where you will be.

StuDudley Feb 12th, 2020 10:57 AM

Bakeries and cafes are usually open on Sundays & Mondays, but most restaurants close on Sunday (except noon - sometimes) and Mondays also.

Stu Dudley

cheska15 Feb 12th, 2020 10:58 AM

Coquelicot in Australian terms ‘ you are an absolute champion’ with all the wonderful links you provide.

otherchelebi Toulouse is a fabulous city. Your trip sounds great. I am not a fan of Perpignan and would suggest dropping it. Of course others may disagree

otherchelebi Feb 12th, 2020 11:48 AM

thanks again Stu, Ipie and cheska. I bow to your experience and dump Perpignan, hoping we can do another trip that includes the coast and the Pyrenees, possibly stretching into Northern Spain. (definitely after the Cornwall visit)

coquelicot, thanks. I will surely write a trip report but may just post it on my travel blog because readers on Fodors find it difficult to spend time on the posts in order to find practical and useful
information among all the personal stuff, the satire and the irony. A well'known Turkish literary critic once wrote an excellent review of my one and only book, saying, "I think he makes fun of all of us and also of himself."

michael_cain_77398 Feb 12th, 2020 12:11 PM

I walked through the area north of Toulouse on the Via Podiensis, and places that stood out were:

The cave at Peche Merle, in Cabrerets (close to St. Cirq). These are one of the few caves with paleolithic art that is open to the public. Absolutely amazing. Reserve ahead of time.
Condom, for its connection to Armagnac and to D'Artagnan, of the Three Musketeers fame.
Cahors - A nice medieval city, and the "black wine" of Cahors is delicious. Gascony in general produces very good wines, but the region has a reputation for bad wines. This is because they keep the good stuff for themselves and only export the bad stuff.
Figeac - There is a public square in town that is paved with a reproduction of the Rosetta Stone in black granite.

I love this area, and the food is to die for. Interestingly, my brother-in-law works part of the year in Toulouse and he isn't impressed with the city itself as as a tourist-destination. I haven't been.

otherchelebi Feb 12th, 2020 12:30 PM

Thanks michael_cain, i am claustrophobic so will not partake of the caves, but will definitely try the black wine. Figeac is on my list of places to visit.

Do you think that treading on the Rosetta Stone will give a perk to my tired feet? and How was only one Condom connected to both Armagnac and D'Artagnan? (sorry could not stop myself)

jpie Feb 12th, 2020 12:32 PM

Originally Posted by otherchelebi (Post 17062793)
thanks again Stu, Ipie and cheska. I bow to your experience and dump Perpignan, hoping we can do another trip that includes the coast and the Pyrenees, possibly stretching into Northern Spain. (definitely after the Cornwall visit)"

I think that is a very good idea-we love Roses in northern Spain-so you can check it out for next visit.

Michael Feb 12th, 2020 12:42 PM

On the way to St Cirq there is Montauban with its Ingres museum and Place Nationale

and a little farther west is Moissac known for its abbey church carvings

and you should not miss Albi for its church and Toulouse Lautrec museum in the former episcopal palace

For cute (and touristy villages) look for the Michelin map of France which specializes in les plus beaux villages

annhig Feb 12th, 2020 12:55 PM

In Toulouse DH and i stayed at the Hotel Albert I re which is very central and has a bit more character than the Ibis. It looks quite reasonably priced in April. It did a good breakfast and has a lift as well as some parking, though we picked up our car from the railway station as we left Toulouse. Personally I would spend 2 nights there - a day should be enough to see most of the city at a reasonable pace - and then move on.

The name of the town of Condom [where there is a well known rugby team] also brings out the comedian in many brits.

michael_cain_77398 Feb 12th, 2020 02:14 PM

Originally Posted by annhig (Post 17062835)
The name of the town of Condom [where there is a well known rugby team] also brings out the comedian in many brits.

It seems to bring out the comedian in the higher powers too ... here is the sky when I was leaving Condom ...
Sky over Condom

StuDudley Feb 12th, 2020 03:54 PM

When we stayed for 3 nights in a B&B near Condom, we had an excellent dinner at De Bastard in nearby Lectoure - which is another interesting town.

Stu Dudley

natylou Feb 12th, 2020 05:28 PM

OC, your comment about not wanting to walk more than a km at a time has got me a bit concerned. I will have to give that some thought, as most places we enjoyed entailed a lot of climbing/walking. That doesn't mean it can't be done, just needs to be done differently. Toulouse, for example, is a very pedestrian city. However, I remember they also have good transit. And as someone above mentioned, the little tourist train will take you around. By the way, the airport is not a nice area to stay. Just nothing around. We took a taxi from our hotel to the airport and it was all fine.

kja Feb 12th, 2020 06:15 PM

I adore Toulouse! Make sure you give it enough time -- a couple of days would not be unreasonable, though of course it depends on your interests.

And Albi is a gem, IMO. If you dine while there, consider le Clos Sainte Cécile.


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