Vincent and I are staying in a hotel near the rail terminal which are often located in the poorest areas of large cities, such as Toulouse. Opposite the hotel, between it and the rail line is a tree-lined canal. Looking out of my hotel window yesterday evening I could see a large number of people gathered around the trees surrounded with all the paraphenalia associated with the homeless. Later on the reason for the gathering became obvious: from a van food was being distributed to these people who were a mixture of men and women. Walking around last night and today I couldn’t help but get a sense of Toulouse being a city with a large number of homeless or otherwise underprivileged people. The van was not there tonight. It might only happen each Sunday.

It was a public holiday today so only a fraction of the shops were open. Nonetheless, Vincent and I set out around midday after the rain had cleared. We tried our hand on the Metro to get to Musee des Augustins, originally a monastery of the Augustine order of monks. The oldest part of the building dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, but there were some more recent additions in the 19th century. It is classified as a national monument and became the home of the museum in 1793, which is very shortly after the Louvre was established. The museum has over 4,000 works which has been built up around a core seized during the French Revolution.

The museum has three main galleries, one housing gothic sculptures from the 14th and 15th centuries, a Romanesque sculpture gallery containing 12th century works, and a painting gallery which mainly houses works from the French, Dutch and Italian Schools. One unusual aspect is that much of the cloister garden is being cultivated with vegetables. The church, which is also a painting gallery, was closed today.

One thing you quickly notice in France is the number of people who are cigarette smokers. Their cigarette packets contain warnings but nothing a graphic as you
would encounter in Australia. My observation is that cigarettes are sold by everyone to anyone. Laws have been introduced banning smoking in places like restaurants and public buildings, but if you want a smoking room in an hotel you can still get one, and outside seating at restaurants remain smoking areas. Too bad if you want to eat outside: you can’t help but become a passive smoker. Cigarette smoking seems so solidly embedded in French culture.

I’ve done some planning for our next five days. We’ll have another day in Toulouse and then take four days to walk to Auch together. Following these four days Vincent
will return to Toulouse where he will spend a night before going back to Paris. I can’t see any hotels on my maps for the first three days of our walk so it might be some interesting camping given that Vincent is not carrying a tent.

I had a delicious vegetarian meal tonight. It’s the one I didn’t get to have last night because the restaurant I selected was closed. My friend Naomi is Sydney gave me the Happy Cow website where you can check on the locations of vegetarian restaurants and health food shops in any country in the world. Vincent enjoyed it as well. It was the most reasonably priced meal I have so far had in France. hausarbeit schreiben lassen