Toulouse, France (3) - Cendrine Marrouat

Toulouse is famous for its Capitouls.

The council of chief magistrates was born after Count Raymond IV's death (1152). Eight men were selected for a year to rule the state. The number increased to 12 in 1176 and 24 in 1222. Each of them represented a district of the city. 

The Capitouls settled in the Capitole, the newly built town council headquarters. They "granted themselves the rights of police, trade, imposition and started some conflicts with the closest cities. Toulouse was usually victorious, extending the domination of the patria tolosana. Despite the intervention of the king, the administration of the Capitouls gave a relative independence to the city, for nearly 600 years, until the French Revolution." (Source: Wikipedia)

Only Catholic, married men of over 25 years of age, who owned a house in Toulouse and worked in a field like the law or trade could become Capitouls.

After a series of disasters, including the Black Plague, massive floods, and the Great Fire of 1463, Toulouse enjoyed a golden period known as the Pastel era (1463-1560):

"Pastel is the blue gold of Toulouse. During the Renaissance, it made the Toulouse merchants very wealthy. Today, pastel is again being used to colour textiles and in the manufacturing of cosmetic products, thanks to the dermatological properties of its oil." (Source: Office de Tourisme de Toulouse)

(More information on woad can be found here.)

Many of the most beautiful private mansions -- "hôtels particuliers" -- were built in that era. The best example is Hôtel d'Assézat, near the Pont Neuf.

Unfortunately, woad was eclipsed by the discovery of indigo in India...

Prairie des filtres

Prairie des filtres once was a runway and a rugby training ground. During the war, people used it as a vegetable garden.

Today, it is a very popular park and venue for several major annual events, including the Bastille Day fireworks.

The two images above show you a view from Prairie des filtres...

Toulouse is known as "la Ville Rose" (The Pink City) because of the distinctive clay brick color of its old buildings. Apparently, that kind of bricks has been used for at least two millennia.

Pont Neuf

Built in the 16th century, the Pont Neuf ("New Bridge") is a non-symmetrical bridge. Its longest arch is the third one from the left -- as you can see on the photos.

"The openings through the piers were originally supposed to represent the face and mane of a lion. A triumphal archway added in 1686 constricted traffic and was removed in 1860." (Source: Wikipedia)

Along the Garonne River

A view of the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques, with the Pont-Neuf on the left.

This hospital was founded in 1313 and used as a "house of charity" and leper colony. Now, it hosts the medicine museum, which displays many objects dating from the second half of the 19th century to the present day.

Quai Lucien Lombard

One of the most beautiful areas of the city. The ideal place to get a good view of Old Toulouse!

A view of Espace EDF Bazacle and Pont des Catalans. 

The Bazacle (from the Latin word "vadaculum" or "little ford") has been used since the 12th century. The water being at its shallowest there, the first bridge across the Garonne River was built at that spot. Its adjacent mills even impressed Rabelais.

From 1890 to 1946, a hydroelectric power station supplied Toulouse with electricity. Now, the space is used as a museum that features temporary exhibitions, a terrace overhanging the river, a photo gallery, and a fish pass. You can even see working turbines.

Inside the Church of Saint-Pierre des Chartreux.

The church has a beautiful nave with a marble altar, and is decorated with frescoes, bas-reliefs and paintings. It also boasts a 17th-century organ.

The remains of its monastery's cloister are still visible in the gardens of the University of Social Sciences. (See photo below)

Toulouse, France

Pont Saint-Pierre

Rue de Rémusat

24-hour clock

Located at 59 rue d'Alsace Lorraine, Toulouse's longest shopping street, it is the only clock of its kind in the city.

Despite its uniqueness, many Toulousains don't even know it exists. Actually, I heard of it for the first time about six or seven years ago, while doing research for a presentation I gave at a bookstore in Winnipeg.

Fontaine Hyppolite Olivier

A gift from Chocolate Maker Hyppolite Olivier in 1886, the fountain commemorates the flood that destroyed 1,400 homes and claimed 210 lives in June 1875. It is located in the Saint-Cyprien neighborhood, one of the most affected areas in the city. 

The word "lettres" stands for "mailbox" (for letter-sized mail).

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