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Toulouse is quite literally a rose colored gem...
One of the main things that distinguishes Toulouse from other cities in France, is the use of brick in the majority of the buildings as opposed to stone in most other cities. The brick is lighter in color giving off more of a pink hue than the conventional, dark orange color and is why Toulouse is called the Pink City. This pink city in South West France is the 'living coral'.
Living coral n Toulouse is everywhere: in the colour of the medieval bricks lining the old quarter; in the shaft of light that bounces off the cobbled stone floor of a secret mansion courtyard; in the colour of your cheeks after the late-afternoon wine, also pink, you drink by the Garonne River.
Begun in the 11th century to serve the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Saint-Sernin is the largest Romanesque church certainly in Europe and believed to be the largest in the world.
The church is named for the first Bishop of Toulouse, Saturninus. In year 250 Saturninus refused to pay homage to the Roman gods. He was tied up to a bull and dragged from the steps down the street in a bloody and violent death. He was buried, and in the 5th century his remains were moved to the current site of Saint-Sernin.
Another Romanesque masterpieces, though entirely different from Saint-Etienne and Saint-Sernin…and really, anything else built in the Romanesque period, is the Convent of the Jacobins. It was started in 1230 by the then future Saint Dominic as a place to preach Roman Catholicism.
The other significant feature of the Convent of the Jacobins is that the remains of Thomas Aquinas are interned here. Author of Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas is regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the Roman Catholic Church
Place du Capitole has been the seat of the municipal government since the 12th century. While the sprawling neoclassical building with its eight columns representing the original eight Capitouls is impressive itself, it’s the interior 19th-century Salle des Illustres that is truly spectacular.
Metaphorically, Toulouse occupies a particular part of French mentality. It’s not edgy and efficient like Paris, posh like Bordeaux or sexy-glam like Nice. If anything, Toulousains have more of that red-blooded Spanishness...
South of the Capitole, the city fans out in into the tangling alleyways of the Old Quarter...
The Local Dishes You Have to Try
If one of your ideas of a holiday is trying new cuisines and sampling local delights, then you’re in the right place. Toulouse and the Occitanie region in France have a reputation for having a diversity of traditional dishes. Get acquainted with Toulouse gastronomy with our yummy guide..
It would be sacrilege to be in Toulouse and not try the cassoulet. This bean stew is without a doubt the most emblematic dish of the city, and it comes in a variety of recipes. Although the most famous recipe consists of beans and charcuterie, Toulouse cassoulet contains beans and duck; though you can replace the duck with sausage.
If you would like to expand your knowledge on cassoulet (and please your belly), be sure to go to Castelnaudary, the birthplace of cassoulet.
The saucisse de Toulouse, Toulouse sausage, requires a rather rigorous process to be made. It’s made mostly of lean meat, is medium in size, and is recognizable for its pink, slightly reddish color. Although it’s mainly served with cassoulet, there are other ways to try it, such as with roasted potatoes or French fries, or go for a braised sausage with vegetables—it’s simply delicious.
While it is recommended you go to the Occitanie region for the best duck foie gras, if you are in Toulouse you must try, and bring back home if you can, some goose liver. Goose meat is much appreciated, but goose foie gras is becoming more and more popular in France and abroad for its taste, which is more delicate than duck foie gras.
Although you can find decent confit de canard, duck confit, in many parts of France, Toulouse and its surrounding areas are where you’ll want to indulge in one of France’s finest dishes. In the traditional recipe, all the parts of the duck are used and salt-cured before being cooked in the meat’s fat in order to obtain that fantastic taste and tender texture
Aside from meat dishes, the region has plenty of confectioneries. The fénétra is a traditional cake that you won’t want to miss. This mouthwatering delight is made from almond shortbread, apricots, and candied lemons. This traditional wonder can be found only in patisseries.
Used as a seasoning in some meals, pastries and candies, there are also dishes and drinks that come from the violet flower. Violet jam and jelly are well-known in Toulouse, but you should also try the syrup and violet liquor. A true emblem of Toulouse’s gastronomy, the city celebrates the violet each year in February.
The medieval walled city of Carcassonne sits in the luscious valley of the Aude river—the gap between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central. Slate roofs glint in the sun atop 13th-century towers that dominate the horizon. Surrounded by mountains and vineyards, the scent of pine shrubs, spicy herbs, and sweet flowers is carried on the cool winds. Known as the garrigue, it is the signature scent of the south of France.
Its a city where medieval meets modernistic, where the historical Cité de Carcassonne, over two and a half thousand years old, collides with the contemporary Ville Basse (Town Centre) and its myriad of charming hotels and sights. If you’re a history buff, prepare to go weak at the knees.
Boasting over 3 km of walls with 52 towers, Carcassonne’s medieval fortress has rightfully earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was the setting for some of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and was also said to be Walt Disney’s source of inspiration for the castle in “Sleeping Beauty.”
The fortified city has a concentric design having two outer walls with 52 towers and barbicans, designed to prevent attack by siege engines. The shallow-pitch terracotta tile roofs and red brick layers identify these towers as Roman, one of which is called “The Inquisition Tower”.
The local Medieval Inquisition’s purpose was to root out and prevent the spread of Cathars and Waldensians—followers of religious movements that were denounced by the Catholic Church.
During the 1355 Great Raid by the English in the Aquitaine–Languedoc region, Edward “the Black Prince” crippled southern France’s economy through the practice of chevauchée. This involved burning and pillaging enemy territory to reduce the region’s productivity.
When the Black Prince passed through Carcassonne, his army razed the Lower Town, but couldn’t take the extremely well defended walled city.
Carcassone’s position as a key defensive fortification on the border with Spain remained until the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed, which effectively pushed the border further south—diminishing Carcassone’s strategic importance.
In 1898, Pope Leo XIII upgraded Carcassonne’s Gothic Church to a Basilica. The minor Basilica is entirely inside the city walls. Famed for its stained glass windows—some of the oldest in the south of France—the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus is a national monument.
The citadel in 1997 was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Minutes can very easily turn into hours when exploring the labyrinthine alleyways of this magical kingdom. Spend some time gazing up at the Basilique St-Nazaire’s rose windows which tower above, revel in the thrilling medieval jousting displays held twice a day.
If you’re not too squeamish, take a trip to the Torture Museum or take some time to unwind on a relaxing barge trip along the Canal du Midi.
After a riveting two days spent in the time capsule that is captivating Carcassonne, you will go to Girona, another age-old historical gem located in Catalonia, Spain. When you consider the beautifully architecture of its Old Town, elegant churches and ornate cathedrals, surrounded by bulbous city walls, it’s no wonder Girona repeatedly comes out on top in nationwide polls on preferred city to live in
Its medieval architecture and walled Old Town are complemented by fascinating museums and world-class gourmet dining.
Like Carcassonne, Girona has had a rich history for many centuries. Its Jewish quarter flourished during the 12th century and is currently one of the best preserved in Europe. After wandering its narrow streets and glimpsing the goings-on of yesteryear, stroll along the walkway of the huge extension of Roman walls and reward yourself with wonderful views of the city.
Next, marvel at the ancient cathedral, once used by the Moors as a mosque and currently considered the crème de la crème of Catalan Gothic architecture. Climb the eighty six steps necessary to reach the entrance and feast your eyes on the widest pointed stone vault in Christendom. You might even recognise some of the landscapes from a Game of Thrones episode
Occupying the building which housed Girona’s synagogue during the 15th century, a visit to the Museum of Jewish History offers an insight on the story of Catalonia's Jewish communities. Carefully researched and displayed artefacts, including manuscripts and illuminated books, detail the history of Jewish communities in Girona and Catalonia throughout the entire medieval period.
Housed in the city’s imposing former Episcopal Palace, Girona Art Museum houses collections of works originating in the region, from Romanesque art to modern pieces. Showcasing the development of artistic creation in Catalonia, the museum’s collections include exceptional artworks ranging from 14th-century altar pieces, Renaissance paintings, and Baroque artefacts, to fine examples of Romanticism, Realism and 20th-century Catalan art.
Dating from the 12th century, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants in Girona is one of the most notable examples of Romanesque architecture in Catalonia. The elegant church is a basilica featuring three naves separated by pillars supporting semicircular arches, and has four apses with fine stone carving throughout.
Above the main entrance, a striking rose window has a diameter of around 3 meters. The church’s rectangular cloister has four vaulted galleries supported by colonnaded pillars framing a small courtyard.
With parts of it dating from the early days of Christianity, the Basílica de Sant Feliu was Girona’s main church before the cathedral it stands adjacent to was constructed. Displaying a range of architectural styles, the building has a Baroque facade, numerous Romanesque features, and a striking, elegant Gothic tower.
The church houses some notable works of art including eight carved sarcophagi and a sculpture of the Recumbent Christ by the 14th-century Catalan sculptor Aloi de Montbrai.
Set in the heart of Girona’s Old City, between the Basílica de Sant Feliu and the city wall at the foot of cathedral, the well-preserved Banys Àrabs (public baths) were built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century.
Visitors can take self-guided tours through the four areas of the complex, including the apodyterium (changing room) with its compact octagonal pool surrounded by slender pillars, the frigidarium (cold room), the tepidarium (warm room), and the caldarium (sauna)
Tarragona is a Medieval metropolis boasting 2,000 years of history, traditional tapas bars and some of the best beaches in Spain. Founded by the Romans in the 5th century BC, Tarragona was actually the capital of the Roman Empire for two years. The walls themselves seem to whisper old tales to you as you lose yourself in the winding backstreets.
In this effervescent port city, Roman history collides with beaches, bars and a food scene that perfumes the air with freshly grilled seafood. The biggest lure is the wealth of ruins in Spain’s second-most important Roman site, including a mosaic-packed museum and a seaside amphitheatre.
A roll-call of fantastic places to eat gives you good reason to linger in the knot of lanes in the attractive medieval centre, flanked by a towering cathedral with Romanesque and Gothic flourishes.
Tarragona Cathedral — currently a Roman Catholic church — is the spiritual heart of the city. Crowning the highest point, it’s one of the most pristine examples of architecture linking the Romanesque and Gothic periods.
Les Ferreres Aqueduct is another perfectly preserved Roman ruin that’s definitely worth seeing. Built with pink stone, this elegant feat of engineering is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site located 4 km north of the city.
Legend has it that it earned its nickname, “Pont del Diable” (Devil’s bridge), because it was built by the devil after he won the soul of a maiden in a bet.
Like a miniature Barcelona, Tarragona is positively bursting with culture. The Santa Tecla festival (every September) is the main festival of the year, when the “beasts” of the “cercavila” parade the streets. The day after, on the day of La Mercè, you will also see the death-defying“Human Towers” walking from the steps of the Cathedral to the door of the Town Hall.
The month of May also sees the arrival of the spectacular Tarraco Viva Roman history festival, which is a must for all culture vultures and history buffs.
You won’t go hungry in Tarragona, that’s for sure. With an abundance of restaurants, bars, and cafes, you’ll have the chance to taste many of the local specialities. You can find many of the local seafood dishes at these restaurants and tapas bars, but we’d especially recommend heading over to the harbor neighborhood of El Serrallo when you want a taste of the sea.
Known as the Fisherman’s District, this quaint neighborhood with cobblestone streets has been a fishing hub since the 13th century. Here you can find Bacalao a la Catalana, which is cod prepared in the traditional Catalan style with raisins and pine nuts, pickled tuna called Tonyina en escabetx, Cargols a la llauna, which are cooked snails and seafood paella...
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Barcelona combines everything that is most charming about Mediterranean cities – a relaxed pace, months of endless sunshine, unbeatable food – with the cultural and design clout of almost any city in the cold north.
Its patchwork of architectural styles displays dark, Gothic façades next to the harlequin buildings of the Modernistas and the skyline-piercing constructions of Jean Nouvel or Herzog and de Meuron.
A day spent admiring them can be topped off with a sun downer on one of the city’s many beaches before dinner at any number of Michelin-starred gastronomic temples or humble, family-run tapas bars.
This is a city with a proud sense of identity and its language, culture and traditional festivals are fiercely guarded.
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What kind of food is Barcelona known for?? We can´t forget about the food when talking about things Barcelona Is famous for. In Barcelona and in the whole Catalonia region you can find one of the most delicious gastronomy in Spain!
Did you know that the third Thursday of June is World Tapas Day? I’m not sure who makes up these days…but I want to be part of that team! I’m all for getting festive, so naturally, the only way to celebrate is by tasting all the tapas!
The Spaniards have mastered the way of bitesize meals. Whether that stems from eating dinner late, taking mid-day siestas, or simply wanting to sample a smattering of dishes: tapas are where it’s at!
Along with the ham, you’ll find tomato and olive oil…sometimes it’s served atop bread, other times it’s more like a charcuterie spread!
The delicious bread with tomato or better called “Pan tumaca” is one of the best things you can try. It´s normally served during breakfast but it is that good that we could eat it at any time of the day. Other famous dishes tourists would eat on a trip to Barcelona would be the Fuet or the typical Crema Catalana as a dessert.
When you first arrive in Spain, you might have paella on your mind. As you know—that delicious rice dish cooked in a giant cast iron skillet and topped with a variety of seafood and meat.
But, there are SO many other delicious foods to try in Spain!…
For an authentic experience, look for a bar with locals! Avoid ones labeled “tapas bar” and those with English menus.
Lastly, order your drink before you order your tapas!
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The Itinerary 9 days / 8 nights
- Day 1: Arrive to Toulouse and have a day at leisure, enjoy your evening and stay over night.
- Day 2: Your second day in Toulouse and stay over night
- Day 3: Enjoy your breakfast and take a train from Toulouse to Carcassonne (50 min). enjoy your day, evening and stay overnight.
- Day 4: Your second day in Carcassonne and stay overnight
- Day 5: Enjoy your breakfast and take a train from Carcassonne to Girona (1 h 50 min). enjoy your day, evening and stay overnight.
- Day 6: Your second day in Girona and stay overnight
- Day 7: Enjoy your breakfast and take a train from Girona to Barcelona (1 h ). enjoy your day, evening and stay overnight.
- Day 8: Your second day in Barcelona and stay overnight
- 9 Day: Take a nice breakfast in your hotel, have a nice walk (depends on time of your fly tickets) and fly back home
* The price of the hotel is based on a double room, so you will need to buy a trip for two.
*If you want to change (increase or decrease) amount of days/nights to stay, please, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org We are happy to make your holiday planned by your desire
*Travel Dream Club will provide you with a travel guide with a description of routes and historical places, as well as a “package of tips” from experienced travelers and you will have your holiday enjoyable and planned by your desire.
*You can change the dates of your holiday before full coordination of details and completed travel documents.
*No cancellation after full coordination of details and completed travel documents. Changes are possible, subject to availability.
*Refund before final approval of documents guaranteed.
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