Living Toulouse’s ‘dolce vita’: What and where to eat

Sausages, foie gras, confit duck… Toulouse is home to some tantalisingly rich cuisine, especially if you love your meat!

By far the most iconic local dish is cassoulet – a spicy, meaty, unctuous and utterly mouth-watering stew made with haricot beans – and there are plenty of restaurants dishing it up around the city. Most versions found here contain the eponymous Toulouse sausage; Le Colombier is just one fine example, which has been serving homemade traditional fare since 1873. In the traditional recipe for confit duck, all the parts of the bird are used and salt-cured, before being cooked in the meat’s fat in order to obtain a tender texture and the richest flavour. And if you’re after a gentle introduction to foie gras (duck or goose liver pâté), why not order it as a starter?

Other specialities to look out for in Toulouse include Cabécou, a soft, creamy goats’ cheese. Sweet tooths will love the typical ‘gateau Toulousain’ called Le Fenetra, made from candied lemons and almonds and one of the best-kept secret recipes of the Occitanie region. You’ll find it in specialist bakeries in Toulouse, along with Croustade aux pommes, a type of apple crumble.

With eleven Michelin-starred restaurants in the Toulouse metropolis and over 1,700 places to eat in total, the city boasts one of France’s best foodie scenes. For relaxed dining in the summer, try one of the numerous ‘guinguette’ bistros that open by the water, or watch the world go by on a restaurant terrace in the city centre. There’s loads of choice for a spot of mooching at a market, too: the Victor Hugo covered market is the largest of its kind in Toulouse, where you’ll find the best-quality local products. Take a stroll around in the morning, followed by lunch in one of the five restaurants on the upper level. Another good option is to buy cheeses and charcuterie to enjoy with a glass of wine in one of the bars here.

Of course, no ‘dolce vita’ can be truly experienced in France without wine! Occitanie is home to vast expanses of vineyards and Malbec is one of the best-loved local red wines; Gaillac, Fronton, Madiran, and Cahors are a few other grape varieties you’ll spot. Armagnac is also produced at the heart of nearby Gascony, just west of Toulouse. Its unique ingredients and artisan production process give it its wonderful aroma and flavour – it’s typically drunk after meals as a digestif. Once you’ve left the restaurant, head to N°5 Wine Bar, rewarded by British magazine «The World of Fine Wine» for having the «Best Wine List in the World» and the «Best By-the-Glass Wine List in the World» in 2017 with more than 2,500 wines on the menu.

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Toulouse - Occitanie