Jardin des Plantes a Toulouse

I awoke this morning to a dinner invitation for this evening.  Dinner involving a lovely couple and dinner on their terrace.  What was I to bring?  Wine.  Parfait!

This, I thought, also called for a bouquet of flowers.  I had a lady at Marché Victor Hugo pull together a lovely bouquet of dark & light pink flowers with white roses.  It was kind of amazing to watch her assemble the bouquet in mere minutes (and it looked great).  It’s kind of astounding how they play with the height of the flowers.  Kinda makes me want to take a flower  arranging class.  The owner was also “très amical.”  She’d pull a few stems together and look at me, “C’est bonne?”  And I’d shake my head and respond back with more enthusiasm, “C’est bonne!”  Then she’d just smile at me.  She also had a lot of potted plants that weren’t too expensive.  I might head back over there and buy some violets and such.  Our apartment could use some foliage.

After getting my bouquet, I returned home to make myself a make-shift picnic lunch for my exploration/park trips today.  It should be stated that today was absolutely gorgeous – hardly a cloud in the sky, sunny, and in the 80s.  I can’t think of the last time I walked down a city street in a skirt, short sleeves, and sandals and felt 100 percent comfortable.  We’re talking perfect weather.  Then if you found a little shade, it was even more pleasant.

I set my sights on venturing down to the Arch (Monument aux Combattants de la Haute-Garonne), walking toward the Grand Rond, and ultimately settling in the Jardin des Plantes.

It was a nice, leisurely walk in the shade (for the most part) down sidewalks hugged by trees and gravel paths.  Always with a faint hint of jasmine (I think) through the trees.  It felt very French today (especially) as a gentleman was playing an accordion as I walked, it sounded a bit like the theme from The Godfather.  I love street music.

When I got to the Grand Rond, I was a tad disappointed the fountain wasn’t turned on (a reason to come back), but the rest of the area was lovely.  Huge, huge trees, shade around every path with groups picnicking and relaxing all over.  I saw sunbathers that reminded me of my sunbathing in Franklin Square back in Philadelphia.  I also saw a pavillion, which I REALLY hope is a place where people ballroom dance like they do in Munich.  I’d sign up for a class, immediately.

I noticed people kept going up a ramp, that’s actually a bridge connecting the Grand Rond to the Jardin des Plantes.  So, I made my way up there and into another lovely park.  This one (not surprisingly) had lots of lovely flowers and plants all over.  It also had lots of roosters.  I spied at least five (took a picture of one).  They were cockadoodledooing like mad.  Each time one would, about five children would imitate it and then giggle.

I walked around nearly every corner, then settled on a green park bench and cracked open my book (The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz – more on that later).  I sat pretty uninterrupted for about an hour and a half until a woman wearing long pants, a turtleneck, a cardigan sweater, and leather gloves (remember, it’s 80 something degrees outside) approached my bench and started speaking to me in rapid French.  I kept my place in my book and looked at her.  She looked kinda angry and said something (I assume the same thing) a little louder.  I responded, “désolé, je ne parle pas bien le français.”  Then she got really angry and said the same thing again and started swatting at the park bench.  A little worried now, I again said, “désolé, je ne parle pas bien le français.”  She then yelled, “Je ne parle pas bien le français?!”  I’m sure my eyes turned the size of saucers.  Then she yelled it again, “no français?!” and kinda repeated it to herself about 3 more times, almost under her breath.  Then she sat down on the bench and sort of apologized (I understood the désolé).  She sat on the bench with me for maybe three minutes then got up and said, “Au revoir!” and left.  I can only imagine she was politely asking me to share the bench, but I had no idea what she said.  Maybe she thought I thought she was crazy (I kinda did). But, I saw her again on my way out of the park and she smiled and said, “Bonjour.”  It’s amazing to me how formal and/or friendly the French are with strangers.  That French class can’t come fast enough…

Regardless, I’ll be returning here.  Really glad we brought our picnic blankets with us.

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