23: Leisure

The Toulouse area provides you with the opportunity to fill your free time, for years! What with museums, concerts, movies, sightseeing in the city and surrounding areas, hiking and skiing in the Pyrenees, as well as water sports on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and regional lakes, you’ll never be at a loss for a fun and interesting way to spend your day, evening, or weekend. Even the outdoor food markets and antique markets can be a source of entertainment. Learning French can also be a leisure activity, as it opens up so many opportunities to enjoy yourself! We’ve gathered information to get you started, but in time you’ll surely discover your own favorite spots. People under the age of 26 and students should inquire about their eligibility for reduced rates at many entertainment activities. Enjoy it!

ENTERTAINMENT

For up-to-date information on what is currently playing in Toulouse at the cinema, theater, or concerts, check Flash, a small magazine that comes out every Wednesday and includes schedules and reviews of “what’s playing” as well as a listing of restaurants. You can buy Flash in most tabac shops, kiosks and magasins de presse. Entertainment program for the week is also published in Wednesday’s issue of the newspaper La Dépêche.The tourist office (Syndicat d’initiative), just behind the Capitole on the Square de Gaulle, offers a free brochure called “Culture et Loisirs” giving details of exhibitions, plays, concerts, and other local events taking place each month. On-line, www.cityvox.fr can be accessed in English and lists cinema and other events.

MUSEUMS

Toulouse offers a few museums of excellent quality. The choice ranges from Roman antiques to modern art. Entrance is free to the museums run by the Mairie of Toulouse the first Sunday of each month, but this does not apply to temporary exhibitions held in those museums.

Le Musée Saint Raymond, near Saint Sernin church, exhibits Roman sculptures, mosaics and artifacts in a beautiful, newly restored, building.
Le Cloître des Jacobins, 13th century gothic cloister. Don’t miss the palm tree “le palmier” designed on the ceiling inside the church.
La Fondation Bemberg is hosted in a splendid building, l’hôtel d’Assézat, and offers a large collection of paintings.
Le Musée des Augustins includes another cloister, a medieval garden, paintings and sculptures from the 11th to 19th century. Special themed visits are organized for children on Sundays. Check also for organ concerts on Wednesdays evenings.
Le Musée Paul Dupuy specializes in the Middle Ages – see the amazing collection of keys!
Le Musée Georges Labit displays a rich collection of Asian art: Khmer statues, Japanese paintings and armours, South East Asian sculptures. Don’t miss the Egyptian collection in the basement with a real mummy, a must see for the kids!
The Natural History Museum

CONCERTS

Concerts are an important part of life in Toulouse. A whole range of music is offered, including a fine symphony orchestra (Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse) which performs in the Halle aux Grains (at Place Dupuy) and opera (Théâtre du Capitole). The season for both is usually from October to May. During the summer there are many outdoor concerts, including a series of piano concerts in the age-old cloister of Les Jacobins. See the daily newspaper, La Dépêche, the weekly Flash, or the office of tourism, in Toulouse center for details. Concerts can also be attended in the suburbs in such venues as the Altigone in St. Orens or Odyssud in Blagnac (Tel: 05 61 30 45 31). The latter offers concerts, opera, theater, ballet and symphony performances, as well as a restaurant, bar and library. And then there’s the Zenith a big concert venue close to Purpan, that looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise from the outside – it’s looks amazing. This venue can hold 9000 spectators.

MOVIES

Although most major American movies play in Toulouse, at one time or another, they are most often shown in “VF” (version française = dubbed into French). Current movies are often released in two movie theaters at once, one in “VF”, and the other in “VO” (version originale = in the original language with French subtitles). Watch out though, as the English-language version is the first to end its run! Some movies may come back later to the “art” cinemas (Utopia & ABC) which also show lesser known releases and old films, most often in their original language. There is almost always some film playing in English. The main movie theaters in Toulouse center are located around the Place Wilson. The cinema guide in the above mentioned sources and can also be found posted on the doors and windows of cafés and other establishments in town. Cinemas offer reduced prices to everyone on Wednesdays, the day the week’s schedules are released, and to students and children on weekdays. The Gaumont theaters now offer reduced prices for children under 12 every day of the week. There are two large movie complexes in Labège and in Blagnac. To find schedules : website : http://toulouse.webcity.fr/cinema.

RESTAURANTS

Eating dinner in most French restaurants is a form of entertainment in itself, as it takes the entire evening to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to ask recommendations from anyone you know or to try new places. For detailed information regarding restaurants, see chapter 19, Food and Dining, Restaurant section.

ENGLISH PUBS AND BARS IN TOULOUSE

The Killarney Irish Bar, 14 Rue Alfred Dumeril
A cozy, authentic Irish bar in the heart of Toulouse. Owned by a rugby fanatic, it is regularly frequented by the Toulouse Rugby teams, and televised matches can be watched most weeks of the season. Whether going for a few pints or just a coffee and chat, you will always be guaranteed a friendly welcome. Monday nights you can benefit from the happy ‘hour’ (from 18:00 to 02:00AM). Happy Hour, Television, Darts, LIve Music

The London Town, Place des Carmes
As the name suggests, this is an English bar with a great selection of English beverages to suit all tastes. Good music, student friendly and comfortable surroundings make this pub worth a visit.

Mulligans Irish Pub, 39 grande rue St-Michel
A cozy Irish bar and great place to watch a premiership match. Wide selection of beverages to suit all tastes. Irish food available. Don’t be fooled by the small ground floor, as the first floor is large and impressively decorated. Happy Hour, Television, Darts, Live Music.

The Frog & Rosbif, off Boulevard de Strasbourg,14 rue de l’Industrie
This is a great example of an English bar in Toulouse, with home brew on draught including a few bitters. It is great to catch up on some premiership action and the only bar still buzzing on a Sunday night. Happy Hour, Quiz/Games Night, Meals, Darts, Live Music

PUBS OUTSIDE TOULOUSE

The Bell, Centre Commercial Ste Germaine, Pibrac
A typical British pub atmosphere, with British food and beer. Happy Hour, Television, Dart.

Bier Akademie, 20 route de Mondonville, Cornebarrieu
German-style pub with imported German beer. German, French and vegetarian food. Happy Hour

NIGHTCLUBS

There are many nightclubs in the center of Toulouse, as well as in the suburbs. See the advertisements and programs in free publications such as ‘L’ouvre Boite’ ‘AntiDot’ ‘let’s motiv’ etc. These publications can be found in many places such as fnac, internet cafes, at the entrances to bars and restaurants, and others. People smoke a lot inside the clubs. Clubs do not usually get busy until after 23:00. Most Clubs in Toulouse do not charge admission, but expect you to buy drinks once you enter. Don’t forget to check the drink prices before you order, as you may find they are quite substantially higher than normal.

Here’s a list of a few dance clubs and musical bars worth mentioning in Toulouse:

Downtown:
Le 7, 1 rue d’Enfer Rochereau – young crowd – House and Techno – trendy
Mr Carnival, 34 rue Bayard – House and R n B
Factory, 23 place Bachelier – Hip hop, R n B, House
Glouglou Café – Reggae crowd – Hip hop
L’Ambassade, 22 blvd de la Gare – Dark Electronica Punk
The Gate (by place St. Pierre) – Erasmus bar – Varied music – Relaxed setting
La Couleur de la Culotte (by place St. Pierre) – Hits- Trendy bar
Cube – Classy bar
Puerto Havana (by canal du Midi & rue Pont Montauban) – Salsa bar -Week-end entry fee
Bodega Bodega (close to allee Jean Jaures & Blvd Strasbourg) – Hits – Musical bar/restaurant – Large Capacity
Texxas Café, 26 rue Castellane – Hits and Techno- Musical bar/restaurant
Ubu Club – Older crowd – 70s 80s music- Classy musical bar

Around Toulouse:
Esmeralda, Rocade sortie 33A, Parc de Sesquieres – 30+ crowd – Entry fee – Esmeralda-discotheque.com
Aposia, 9 rue Jean Rodier – Entry fee – Hits, Techno and Salsa – Ramonville area – Biggest club in France – aposia.fr
Villa Garden – Entry fee – Rangueil area
La Dune – young crowd – Entry fee – Trendy spot – ladune.com
Café Rex – Australian bar – older crowd – relaxed setting
Le Ramier (by pont St. Michel) – older crowd

Late Night clubs:
Le Frigo, 2 rue des 3 journees – House
Le Purple, 2 rue Castellane – older crowd – Techno- Trendy and posh
Ibiza After Club, aposia, 9 rue Jean Rodier (opens at 5 am Saturdays and Sundays)

THEATER
There are several choices, ranging from the larger theaters such as the Théâtre du Capitole, Halle aux Grains and Sorano, to smaller theaters such as the Théâtre de la Garonne (watch for annual Shakespeare performances in English) and theThéâtre de la Digue. There are also cozier spots such as the Théâtre des Trois T and the Cave Poésie that are known as café-théâtres. These resemble comedy clubs, although they may also offer plays and musical acts.

RADIO STATIONS

88.7 RTL2 97.9 Présence FM
89.1 Radio FMR 99.1 RFM
89.7 Radio Muret 99.5 Nostalgie
90.1 Radio Mon Pais 100.0 Skyrock
90.5 France Culture 100.4 NRJ
92.2 Canal Sud 101.0 Kol Aviv
92.6 Radio Fréquence Soleil 101.4 Sud Radio
93.1 France Musique 102.4 Europe2/ Mid FM
93.5 Altitude FM 103.1 Radio Classique
94.0 Radio Campus 103.5 France Inter
94.4 Lazer FM 103.9 RTL
95.2 Radio France Toulouse 104.3 Radio Monte Carlo
95.2 Le Mouv’ 106.3 Europe 1
97.4 Chérie FM 106.8 Radio Plus

ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN

There are countless activites in Toulouse to keep your children happy and occupied. A few favourites:

Parks and forest:
Le Jardin Compans Cafarelli in downtown Toulouse hosts an amazing Japanese garden and a great play area for children 6 -12 years old
Le Jardin des Plantes, off Le Grand Rond in downtown.
Base de Loisirs de La Ramée (near Tournefeuillie): offers all kinds of sports, picnic areas, paddle boats, pony rides, games, public pool … Miniboats operate during the summer.
Base de Loisirs de la Forêt de Bouconne tel: 05 61 85 40 10 welcomes children on Wednesdays and during holidays. It’s a recreation day-camp offering crafts, sports and lots of outings. Residents of the Bouconne area enjoy reduced rates. The camp is well-staffed and closely supervised.
La forêt de Bouconne (between Pibrac and Levignac) is great for walks or bike rides; children’s playground and miniature golf.
Pech David (near Ramonville): hilltop park, with playscape and picnic tables, public pool
Lac de Saint Cricq, Thoux for swimming, windsurfing, fishing, mini-golf, rowboats, paddle boats, playground … Camping site and bungalows for rent.

Animal & Amusement Parks – day trips:
The African Safari Zoo in Plaisance du Touch, Tel: 05 61 86 45 03, website www.zoo-africansafari.com, is a great little zoo with both drive-through and walk-through portions. Seal show, picnic and playground areas.
La Bisonnerie (Buffalo Farm) in Merenvielle, Tel: 05 61 06 54 47 organizes an American-style Wild West Festival, every year in June featuring native American and Cowboy cultures. Learn about the chuck wagons, how to shoe a horse, rope a cow, how to build a teepee and pan for gold!
La Cité de L’Espace, Toulouse, Tel: 05 62 71 48 71, exit #17, périphérique est will launch you into space for one day. Explore the universe, observe the Earth, visit the hands-on science museum and outdoor space themed park with the full-scale Mir space station or the Ariane rocket. For a guided tour in English, ask for Joyce Faure. Planetarium shows are available in English. Website: www.cite-espace.com.
Labyrinthus, Tel: 05 63 56 16 16, nested at the foot of Cordes, is open from July to September. It is a huge maze built with corn. The drawing design changes every year: in 1999 it had the shape of Jupiter; in 2000, the maze was inspired by St Exupery’s Le Petit Prince; in 2001, it is themed after Jules Verne books. Website: www.labyrinthus.com
Laser Quest, 105 route d’Agde, Toulouse (near Auchan). For children older than 7 years : battle it out in an 800 m² labyrinth of tunnels, armed with your courage and a huge laser gun ! From the périphérique, exit #15 direction Lavaur. Turn into the entrance for the Quick, Laser Quest is located just behind.
Prehistoric Parc, Tarascon sur Ariège, near Foix: set in a beautiful environment, the park recreates the lifestyle of prehistoric man. Learn how to make weapons out of silex stone, how to light a fire, try your hand at painting on a cave wall, throw spears at ‘bison’ targets. Visit the exhibition of reproductions of cave paintings.
Parc des Loups, Orlu after Ax Les Thermes: wolf park.
Le Rocher des Aigles, eagle park, Tel: 05 65 33 65 45 and La Forêt des Singes, Tel 05 65 33 62 72, monkey park, both in Rocamadour.
Tépacap, Rieumes, south of Toulouse, Tel: 05 62 14 71 61. A theme park where you suit up to have a swing through the trees. There are three separate play areas with different levels, from 5 years up, including a darkened maze and courses in trees at various heights. From the A64 direction Tarbes, exit #34 Muret. Follow signs for Saint Clar, then Rieumes. Website: www.tepacap.fr.
Youpi Park, L’Union. An indoor play park for children from 18 months to 10 years. Socks are required. Exit #14 from the Périphérique, direction l’Union, the park is located near the far side of Castorama.
Walibi Park Tel: 05 53 96 58 32 located near Agen, between Toulouse and Bordeaux, exit #7 on A62; slides and water games.

All these parks are within two hours driving of Toulouse. For further activities, see the Travel Section.

BOOKS AND READING

The American library (bibliothèque), previously located rue du Taur has moved to the Université du Mirail, 5 allées Antonio Machado, Toulouse, Tel: 05 61 50 43 18. It can be reached by Metro Line A or bus Line 13. (This information needs to be verified. It may be out of date.)

Odyssud in Blagnac has a large library with an excellent selection of children’s books in English. A few videos in English are also available.

The Mediatheque in Toulouse at the end of allee Jean Jaures is a newly opened library. It has lots of stuff, amongst which is a nice collection of books in English. In the basement in the kids’ department there is a book collection for kids in English that are being added to often. On the 2nd floor next to the science-fiction books there is a nice collection of books in English for grown-ups. Metro stop Marengo puts you pretty much right under the library building giving easy access. There is also excellent parking below the library.
The public library by place St.Cyprien (Toulouse) has a modest collection of books in English for kids. The library is located right next to the Metro.

There are two English book shops within the area of “Le Capitole”:
The Bookshop, 17 rue Lakanal
Librairie Etrangère, 16 rue des Lois, Tel: 05 61 21 67 21, is also a good source of English books, new and used, as well as children’s books. (Information on Librairie Etrangere needs to be verified. It may be out of date.)

A quaint village called “Montolieu, the village of books” (approx. 30 km north of Carcasonne) has a myriad of book shops of all sorts: used, specialized, in French, English, and other languages. A British lady, Salley Newman Tel: 04 68 78 87 61, has a used book shop in the village and can also arrange guided tours in English for adults and children.

NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES

The Herald Tribune, USA Today, The European, The Financial Times, The London Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist are widely available in Toulouse center newsstands and the airport. Foreign newspapers are not generally available until mid-afternoon of the day of printing. Many foreign magazines are also available at the airport. Another source of English reading material is the newsstand at the main train station (Gare Matabiau).

ORGANIZATIONS OF INTEREST TO NEWCOMERS

AMERICANS IN TOULOUSE INTERNATIONAL CLUB (AIT)

Americans in Toulouse (AIT) is a non-profit, English-speaking social organization run exclusively by volunteers. AIT welcomes families, couples and individuals of all nationalities, living in or visiting the Toulouse area, whatever the length of their stay. AIT fosters friendships, offers support and exchanges useful information for anyone relocating or contemplating relocation to or from the Toulouse area in order to ease their assimilation into a new country, city, language and culture. Our goal is to help each individual enjoy to the fullest their host community as well as to provide educational, social, and cultural experiences from both the home and host countries. AIT publishes a monthly newsletter and maintains an extensive website, located at ‘www.americansintoulouse.com.

Motto: English speaking ex-pats living and sharing the good life in Toulouse.

FRANCE ETATS-UNIS

French and Americans join for outings, cultural activities, dinner-debates, Thanksgiving dinner, 4th of July picnic, cooking classes, brunches, etc. to further understanding between people of the two countries. The first Tuesday night of every month (excluding July and August) there’s an open ‘happy hour’ 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Crowne Plaza bar, place du Capitole. For more information call Pascal Bardet, 06 70 89 60 72 or write franceetatsunis@yahoo.com

TOULOUSE WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL GROUP (TWIG)

is a group of English speaking women, of many different nationalities, with over 200 members across a broad age range, with 70% being under 55 and 46% of members having dependant children. The principal aim of the group is to help members make contact with each other and to offer initial support to new arrivals. The group offers a range of activities and special interest sub-groups to choose from and a regular magazine to keep in touch. For more information, please see our website at www.twigsite.org or contact our Welcome & Help organiser, Susie Edwards on 05 61 06 02 93 or by email:welcome@twigsite.org

TOULOUSE HASH HOUSE HARRIERS

The Hash is a global network of social running clubs made up of expats and locals who like to run outdoors, drink beer and get seriously unserious. The Toulouse club was formed in 2002. Runs are organized regularly at ‘mystery’ locations. Information on future runs can be found at www.toulousehash.com.

Accueil des Villes de France Toulouse is an organization whose aim is to welcome all new arrivals to Toulouse. French is spoken primarily. Located at 43, Place des Carmes, Toulouse, they are open daily from 14:00 to 17:00. Tel: 05 61 55 39 81 ; website : www.avf.asso.fr.

B.R.I.A (Bureau Régional d’Industrialisation et d’Acceuil de Midi-Pyrénées) located 14, rue de Rivoli, (Grand Rond), Toulouse, Tel: 05 61 33 50 97 has a multi-lingual staff whose job it is to help new-to-the-area foreigners, and French employees of Toulouse firms and their families, get settled in the region.

RELIGIOUS SERVICES MEETINGS

The English Church of MIdi-Pyrenees and Aude (Anglican) welcomes all denominations. Services are held in the church at Eglise Sainte Marguerite, 105, avenue des Arènes Romaines, Toulouse. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month Holy Communion Service at 10:30, with Sunday School available for children. On the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month Family Worship is at 10:30. Contact Father Charles Howard, 05.61.85.87.98.

Toulouse International Church offers weekly Sunday services (with staffed nursery and Sunday School) at 10:30 and Youth Meeting at 16:00. A Ladies’ Bible Study meets on Tuesdays at 9:45. On Wednesdays there is a Men’s prayer breakfast at McDonald’s Blagnac at 7:30 and Bible Study at 20:00. The church is located at 15 avenue de la République in Cornebarrieu. For more information call Pastor Andrew Berry at 05.61.85.04.67 or visit their website:www.toulouseinternationalchurch.org.

Roman Catholics of Toulouse organize Masses in English every 2 weeks. All masses are at 11 am at Chapelle St. Gabriel (Le Plateau) rue Marie Curie, Blagnac. For more information call Eileen Highley 05 62 13 71 42 or Grace Leahy 06 09 51 55 35

AJLT (Association des Juifs Libéraux à Toulouse) 13, rue du Colonel Driant, Tel: 05 61 52 73 69; Jewish services in French.

Association Musulmane de Toulouse, Mosquée Assalam, Tel: 05 61 44 55 65 for Muslim services.