by Sarah Cross, Sciences Po Toulouse, France
Despite having more classes and a fuller timetable than I’m used to in Manchester (those 8:30am lectures will stop me from ever complaining about a 9am again!), there remains plenty of time to explore the beautiful city and surrounding areas. I’m lucky enough to also have Fridays off this Semester, giving me even more time to explore. I thought I’d tell you about some of my favourite things I’ve done outside of classes and the library in my first two months.
Lac de la Ramée
With Toulouse being fairly in land, 2 hours minimum from the Coast, I was over the moon to find some form of ‘beach’ just a 30-minute metro + bus journey from the city center. Lac de la Ramée is a beautiful large lake, with opportunities to rent paddleboards and kayaks. The small beach attached to it ‘La Ramée plage’ is perfect for a relaxing sunny day. It was news to me that we would still have temperatures above 25 degrees at the end of October, so we have definitely been able to make the most of it! An affordable day out that makes you feel like you’re on holiday!
Just a 45 minute train journey from Toulouse Matabiau, you can visit the pretty, Medieval citadel of Carcassonne, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. We actually went on a guided visit with Sciences Po, but it is so easy to get to and navigate yourself, and I’ll definitely be taking my friends and family when they come together. You enter into what looks like old castle walls, and inside are greeted with a gorgeous old town that almost doesn’t feel real, as if you’ve stepped back in history!
Place Saint Pierre
This is the place in Toulouse I think I’ve spent the most time at since arriving. Place Saint Pierre is just next to the Garonne (the main river here), and it is full of student-y bars and cafes. Despite this, most of the time everyone just sits by the river on the steps, watching the sunset and chatting to new people. It is definitely one of the areas where I have met the most international and French students alike, and the gorgeous views of the river never get old!
With cheap student tickets and a great atmosphere, I would definitely recommend spending one or two Sunday afternoons at Stadium de Toulouse for a match. We recently saw their match vs Strasbourg and, while it was 2-2, it was a great way to spend a Sunday together. I’m still yet to go to a rugby match, which Toulouse is especially famous for, but I’ll be sure to report back when I get the chance!