If you accept that people have an aura about them – a colour – can the same be said of cities? If so, Toulouse wants to know if it can have more than one.
Thanks to its buildings of pink granite, France’s fourth largest city has earned itself the name ‘la ville rose’. The stone has been coloured by the iron in the plains of the Garonne river that runs through Toulouse.
However, it is actually the colour blue that brought the city its wealth. It prospered in the 15h century as its merchants traded in a local blue vegetable dye known as pastel. The dye comes from the leaves of the yellow-flowered woad plant. The colour can be seen throughout the city, in details, such as on shutters and ironwork.
Toulouse is known for purple too, thanks to the small flower known as the Toulouse violet. It has also become an emblem for the city, and can be found in all sorts of gifts and foodstuffs.
All of which makes Toulouse a beautiful – and colourful – place to visit. One of the things I plan to do when I’m back in France next month is to return there.
As well as the pink stone buildings, blue fabrics and violet flowers, my overriding memory of the city is of grey. In fairness, it was a cold winter’s day that I was last there. I am sure it will look very different in a few weeks’ time.
At 210km south of Bergerac, Toulouse is the furthest south I’ve been in France. It’s a five-hour round trip, so it’s quite a day out, but it’s worth it.
I’m sure I’ll come away feeling, well, in the pink.