My absolute favourite foodie spot in Toulouse has to be Les Halles at the Marche Victor Hugo, which is the covered market and houses an incredible array of local produce, bars and restaurants. Despite looking rather plain from the outside, this building is a treasure trove of culinary delights (and some more unusual delicacies you might want to avoid!).
We started off our expedition on the ground floor, weaving around stalls selling cassoulet, famous Toulouse sausages, fishmongers, patisseries and cheesemongers. It was absolutely full to bursting on the Sunday afternoon, with queues for the bars where people were welcome to perch and sample their wares while enjoying a beverage or two.
At the top we were greeted with an onslaught of all the senses! It was full to bursting with people crammed into a gallery of restaurants that encircles the top floor, squashed in as tightly as you could imagine to eat and drink. The smells were incredible and even though the restaurants looked more like English greasy spoons (with prices to match) people were happily tucking in to things like oysters, scallops, foie gras and fillet steaks.
It was so full that we couldn’t even get a space in the queue inside, so we headed to the the outdoor balcony where we gratefully took one of the last remaining tables. (You can see everyone crammed on the balcony in the first picture.) I had a delicious cod fillet served with steamed vegetables and fresh pasta and, because we were in Toulouse after all, a tomato sauce with chunks of ham which I could easily fish out. Oh and a plate of chips too! Along with a small carafe of wine my meal came to around €13, great value even with the rubbish exchange rate.
Across the street from the market was Criollo, one of the tastiest chocolate shops I’ve been in (just don’t tell our beloved Joel Durand!). They also serve proper hot chocolates in the sister shop across town, but sadly that was closed on Sundays so we had to settle for a small box of their delicious handmade chocolates.
After some of the heavier fare we were looking for a light bite one lunch when we came across La Reserve, close to les Jacobins. The bar and restaurant was lively and welcoming, so we took a spot on the terrace and enjoyed some vegetable crudités before tucking into the most delicious pommes frites in the whole wide world. Drizzled with garlic butter these crispy chips were worth the journey to Toulouse alone!
Breakfast in France is always a treat and there are plenty of cafes in Toulouse offering a ‘formule’ or set menu for your petit dejeuner. My favourite was the breakfast at Le Florida in the main square overlooking le Capitole. For under €10 we had orange juice, coffee, croissant and hearty bread with jam. All in the comfort of the beautiful view of the town hall.
Just next door but one was another gem, Le Paradis du Fruit, which had some much needed veggie options and things like fresh juices and salads if you’re getting a little full from the hearty Toulouse dishes. While the salads did sound tempting I just couldn’t resist this ‘toast’ with mushrooms, broccoli and Emmental-which actually turned out to be a British toastie. Not so French but extremely delicious, at least the carafe of Bordeaux added a local touch!