Stoney and I had been hearing a lot of good press for the Christmas marché in Toulouse; apparently it is a real shopping destination. What I did know was that evening traffic toward Toulouse was intimidating. We wanted to check it out, though, especially for unique gifts from France for the family. Considering the traffic and parking challenges on a normal day in Toulouse, we opted to try a new adventure for us all (though only partly for Stoney the Urban Commuter).
We rode the bus/metro into the Capitol station (gare?).
We took the 65 to the Aréne station mid-morning, and the bus wasn’t overfull on a Saturday. It went past the Hippodrome, which appeared to be set up for steeplechase, an event I’ve never seen. That might make a fun future field trip for me.
We disembarked at the metro station, where it became a new experience for all of us. The ticket machine was a little confusing, but a metro employee immediately recognized our naive ignorance and stepped up and converted the machine to English for us, asked in Franglaise whether we wanted tickets for the three of us just for today, and pointed out our best deal, which would not have been our first response. He was friendly and AWESOME! Frankly, the vast majority of Toulousains are delightful, helpful people. He made sure we headed in the right direction for our destination, and we tackled the next leg of our trip, the metro. Couldn’t have been easier.
We had lovely day at the Christmas market, which was actually smaller than we had expected. I also think the reason incoming traffic is crazy at night isn’t because the residents are off work and heading to the market, but because it is obvious the light show of the market will be Vegas-quality. We need to come back at night and compare! My next post will show scenes from the daytime Christmas market, but until then I just want to point out the safety, cleanliness and universal use (school kids to the elderly) of the Toulouse mass transit system. I am impressed.