This article was created in collaboration with National Geographic Traveller (UK).
Toulouse, known as La Ville Rose (the pink city) due to its charming blush-colored buildings, holds a captivating allure. Nestled alongside the Garonne River, its medieval bridges and leafy riverbanks create a picturesque setting cherished by both students (Toulouse boasts the second largest student population in France after Paris) and history enthusiasts. The city’s rich tapestry is interwoven with tales of Cathar knights wandering through narrow old town streets, while its suburbs bear witness to the birth of the Concorde, an icon of aviation.
However, Toulouse offers more than just historical and architectural wonders; it is a gastronomic paradise. With nine Michelin-starred restaurants and a vibrant student culture influenced by neighboring Spain, the city caters to diverse palates and budgets. From delectable stuffed squid and Mediterranean oysters to indulgent blue cheese from Roquefort, and vibrant culinary gems like pink garlic and black truffles, Toulouse delights every food lover. Let’s dive into five must-try flavors that define the essence of Toulouse.
- Toulouse Sausage
Embark on an unforgettable gastronomic journey with Jessica Hammer’s Taste of Toulouse tours. As you explore the city’s vibrant food market, Marché Victor Hugo, make a beeline for Maison Garcia, a family-run charcuterie renowned for its saucisse de Toulouse. This famous local sausage, infused with black pepper, is sold in a distinctive large spiral shape, perfect for grilling or barbecuing. You can also savor the dried version, saucisse sèche, ideal for picnics or aperitifs. Bistroquet À La Une is an excellent choice to indulge in a hearty dinner featuring this flavorful sausage, accompanied by crushed potatoes and a rich red wine jus.
No visit to this southwestern corner of France is complete without tasting the region’s signature dish: cassoulet. A rich, bubbling stew crafted from Toulouse sausage, white beans, pork rind, trotter, confit duck, and local garlic, cassoulet derives its name from the cassole clay pot it is traditionally cooked in. Although this Occitanie classic dates back centuries, Toulouse recently formed its own Brotherhood of the Toulouse Cassoulet to celebrate this culinary masterpiece alongside the cities of Carcassonne and Castelnaudary. In Toulouse, you may find chefs adding lamb to infuse their personal touch, resulting in unique variations. Le Bibent, located in the opulent dining rooms of Place du Capitole, stands as one of the city’s prestigious establishments to savor this timeless dish.
While Toulouse is renowned as the pink city, its true signature flavor is violet. In the 19th century, violets became a prized crop in the city, flourishing during the winter months. While cheaper versions may taste soapy, the finest quality violet infuses a gentle perfume into ice cream, macarons, and pastries like the Paris-Toulouse, a delightful variation of the Paris-Brest (a praline-cream-filled choux pastry). An aromatic haven for violet enthusiasts, La Maison de la Violette awaits you aboard a small boat moored alongside the Canal du Midi in central Toulouse. Indulge in a selection of delectable violet treats, ranging from crystallized petals to irresistible violet-shell chocolate almonds.
- Pavé Toulousain
Step into Xavier, a cheese shop located next to the Marché Victor Hugo, where two generations of masterful artisans,
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Culinary Delights of Toulouse
What are the must-try flavors of Toulouse?
Toulouse offers a range of must-try flavors. Some highlights include the Toulouse sausage, cassoulet stew, violet-infused treats, Pavé Toulousain cheese, and exquisite pastries from Sandyan.
Are there budget-friendly dining options in Toulouse?
Absolutely! Toulouse caters to various budgets. While it boasts nine Michelin-starred restaurants, there are also affordable options. The city’s robust student population and Spanish influences contribute to a diverse and accessible food scene.
Where can I find the best Toulouse sausage?
For an authentic Toulouse sausage experience, head to Maison Garcia at the Marché Victor Hugo. This family-run charcuterie specializes in saucisse de Toulouse, known for its black pepper flavors. Bistroquet À La Une is another great place to savor this sausage as part of a hearty meal.
What is the signature dish of Toulouse?
The signature dish of Toulouse is cassoulet. This rich stew combines Toulouse sausage, white beans, pork rind, trotter, confit duck, and local garlic. It derives its name from the cassole clay pot it’s traditionally cooked in. Chefs in Toulouse may add their own twists, with some incorporating lamb.
Where can I find violet-infused treats in Toulouse?
To enjoy the signature flavor of Toulouse, violets, visit La Maison de la Violette. This charming establishment, situated on a small boat along the Canal du Midi, offers a delightful selection of violet-infused treats, from crystallized petals to violet-shell chocolate almonds.
Is there a notable cheese in Toulouse?
Certainly! Toulouse boasts the Pavé Toulousain, a cube-shaped raw cow’s milk cheese that represents the pink bricks of the city. Xavier, a cheese shop near Marché Victor Hugo, is renowned for its selection of cheeses, including the Pavé Toulousain.
Where can I find exquisite pastries in Toulouse?
For exquisite pastries, make your way to Sandyan. This jewel-like patisserie showcases its creations in beautiful glass display cases. Chef Yannick Delpech, known for his Michelin-starred achievements, presents stunning pastries, including unique creations like the trompe l’oeil soft-boiled egg.