Le Grand Tour: Day 35 – Grisolles To Toulouse (31km)

CURRENT LOCATION: La Cave d’à Côté, Toulouse

I’m still suffering g from the mosquito bites inflicted upon me in Marick’s basement on Thursday night. I really wish I had got out of the bed and killed each one of the little f*****s. Not only would I have gained great pleasure from doing so, I would not now be scratching my way through the day. Last night on the campsite near Grisolles was particularly uncomfortable. On the positive side of things, the bites are receding, slowly… I need to buy some Autan. I’m already taking antihistamine tablets but the former was recommended way back in 2010 when I was the victim of a mosquito attack in Italy. I wrote a whole section in ‘Crossing Europe…’ about mosquitoes and their bites; I should go back and re-read it. I seem to remember there being three factors that increased your susceptibility; being pregnant, having blood group O and beer. I need to drink more wine… 

A short cycling day today and there were no prettiest villages of France or strange contraptions to drag boats up hills to distract me. But the 30km to Toulouse passed quickly and I was soon cycling beside the colourful graffiti of the northern suburbs of the ‘Pink City’. If you watch the video, you’ll appreciate that the sobriquet is a suitable one. I’m sure Boston isn’t always windy and much of Glasgow isn’t green, but it must be said that the buildings of Toulouse are, in the main, a shade of red; red that is indeed towards the pink end of the spectrum. It’s the bricks. I need a geologist to advise me why they are indeed the colour that they are. Anyone? 

Combining even a 30km cycle with a full-blown day of tourism in a big city is a knackering combination and by 3pm I was falling asleep in my chair in the back street bar that I had found. It’s a pity as it was the kind of back street bar in which I could have spent the rest of the day. Alas I don’t think taking a siesta would have gone down well so I returned to my hotel for an afternoon snooze. 

Two hours later I hit the streets once again. The tourist office guided tours had all set off by the time I called in this morning so I did the next best thing and went for a long wander, heading down streets that took my fancy and discovering interesting things along the way. In the few hours that I’ve been here, I feel that I have got a good impression of what Toulouse is and I like it. Laid back, attractive and very… Spanish. Replace the French with Catalan or Castilian and you’d never spot the difference. I hope I haven’t headed the wrong way down the canal again. 

Tomorrow: the Canal du Midi… 


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