Toulouse Impressions, continued

We walked a lot admiring Toulouse, trying to make the most of our few days there. It is a very easy city for walking - no cobblestone which kills high-heels and feet, no intertwined narrow streets, no confusing mazes. The Mediterranean warmth  instilled comfort and some peacefulness, falsely maybe, but nevertheless, it seemed so different from the reserved cool air of Nothern France.  
The food was definitely adding to the serenity factor - the traditional game meat, foie gras, and potatoes washed down with Gaillac or Frontonnais leave body no other choice but to go in a passive-defensive digestive coma.

Most of the architectural sights in Toulouse are either relatively "new", built the 17-18th century or they were built to replace the old structures. So is the case with the striking Capitole in the centre of the city.

La Capitole
The Capitole at night
The Capitole has been a seat of the municipality since the 12C. During frequent absences of the Count, the town councilors assumed a range of powers and oversaw operations of the city. Capitouls were elected for a year and were awarded titles of noblemen with a coats of arms. The regime of capitouls was abolished after the French Revolution.

After the 12-day fire of 1463 most of building was rebuilt. The present Capitole is a mix of styles from the 16C to 19C. The building was closed for a wedding ceremony so we couldn't go inside, but they say the halls are magnificent.

The square in front of the building once drew the border of the Roman town. Although it was created in the early 1800ies, it has immediately become a focal point of Toulouse. A large bronze Occitan cross covers the centre of the square's pavement. Usually empty, 12 balls of the cross are decorated with 12 horoscope signs by Raymond Moretti. He also created 29 coffers on the arcades of the ceiling opposite the Capitole retracing important events and citizens of the city. I only vividly remember the portrait of Ferma who worked in Toulouse.

Musee des Augustins
 The Gargoyle sculptures
Part of the charm of France (beside many other things) is in its creative ability to boldly combine seemingly polar concepts, textures, and materials. This is so well-reflected in their food, fashion style, and architecture. A rare city would dare top the sacred medieval symbol of the city with horoscope signs, plop a bizarre glass pyramid in the middle of the neo-Classical square, install an art museum in a former swimming pool. Exploring every city brings childish excitement of a new discovery that ties the impossible, as is the case with the Musee des Augustins.

Former monastery cloisters
The fine arts museum is housed in a former Augustinian monastery (built around 1310). The religious community was disbanded at the time of the Revolution and the building was used a museum. It is best known for the outstanding collection of Romanesque sculpture taken from the cloisters of Toulouse destroyed during the last century Cloisters, chapels, courtyard are well-used to display the art work and sculptures. The art collection is modest but well-represented to cover periods from Italian primitivists to impressionists. For me the art highlights were La Belle Epoque and neo-classical painters (and yet another death of Marat) and a work of Perugino.

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