A Wander in Toulouse

I cannot emphasise enough what a beautiful city Toulouse is. As I’ve said before you can get everywhere by foot as it is so flat, and the streets are so narrow that the only public transport is the “Navette Ville”. A shuttle bus that travels through and around the city and is free. We had to try it out once so we could say we had been on it. There are only 11 seats, but it is a great way to mix with the locals. Whilst on the bus I got the shot above as we passed a cafe.

Before we had got on the bus, which you just have to wave and he stops, I saw this cool dude walk along the edge of Capitole Square. That is the only way I can describe him because he did look the business. A bit like Will I Am from a distance.

Un mec cool
Un mec cool

When we got off the bus we wandered along aimlessly, which you can do in Toulouse as you always stumble upon something, when we saw the Muséum de Toulouse. I knew the entrance to the Jardin Les Plantes was next to it, so we went in and sat a while and watched the families enjoying themselves. We stopped a while to see if these two were courageous or even tall enough to join their friends in the tree. Maybe a little too short yet.

Perdu dans l'arbre
Perdu dans l’arbre

Walking through the park we noticed the bridge going over the road to the Grand Rond and that is where I got the next shot.

La petite fille de papa
La petite fille de papa

There weren’t many people in the Grand Rond, which is basically a big park that is a roundabout, and that is why there is a bridge. The centre is a high fountain surrounded by flower beds.

Sur le bord du lit de fleurs
Sur le bord du lit de fleurs

A lot of people were consulting maps throughout the city as it is so easy to lose your bearings. The maps are available from the Office du Tourisme, but when going in there you look at all the leaflets and books trying to find them, but lo and behold they are on the counter as a big A3 pad and you just rip one off. I expect this is done in a lot of places but the first time I had come across it.

Lire tranquillement
Lire tranquillement

Anyway back to the park. When in there it is hard to believe you are in the middle of a roundabout. It must be the amount of trees and foliage that blocks the noise, as it is so peaceful for people to sit and read.

Dans l'ombre de l'arbre
Dans l’ombre de l’arbre

It is lovely and peaceful in the parks, but so many of the streets are so quiet. More cities should be like this. It is so restrictive to cars. They are either blocked from access or there are one way streets, which, I should imagine, only taxi drivers and the real locals know how to navigate. You are constantly seeing people in their cars come to a junction thinking they can turn one way only to realise they can only turn the opposite way to where they want to go, and end up heading back the way they came. It is great fun to just sit and watch the same cars passing you with the occupants looking so frustrated.

La rue tranquille
La rue tranquille

The advantage of restrictions on cars is freedom for pedestrians. Also the quietness of the streets. At times you would never believe you are in the 4th biggest city in France.

Musée du Vieux Toulouse

Meandering along the streets you suddenly come onto streets that the locals seem to use as a main thoroughfares. On foot that is. The only way I can describe it is like driving along a country road in the middle of the country and as you turn the corner you are in the middle of a three lane motorway in rush hour. It’s brilliant. The change is so dramatic, and you take a few steps and off onto another street and it is so calm.

Les habitants se précipitent à travers
Les habitants se précipitent à travers

With such high buildings and narrow streets on flat terrain it can become like a maze, you can’t see anything in the distance to get your bearings, which is fun, because as a street turns you see something new as with the Musée du Vieux Toulouse above. An even bigger surprise is when you look down a side street to be presented with a view like this!

Église des Jacobins
Église des Jacobins

Now I am not as uptight as Tina in regard to people showing their emotions on the street, but when I saw this young couple at the rear of the Église des Jacobins and got the shot I could here Tina tut tutting in my head. So the next shot is for you Tina!

Amour de jeunesse
Amour de jeunesse

As you walk through the streets you see big double doors everywhere and at first I thought they may be garages. The doors look similar to those in London underneath the railway arches. It was a while before I saw someone open one, and then you realise they are entrances to courtyards. I just missed this woman walking through the shadows but got the shot as she was in the sunlight.

Dans la cour
Dans la cour

The buildings are so high, but you must remember to look up. I missed a few shots as someone glanced out of an upstairs window, or shook a table cloth out. However I did manage catch this woman out on the veranda enjoying a coffee and a smoke whilst her little one played safely behind the railings.

À l'abri derrière les grilles
À l’abri derrière les grilles

The final image was later in the day in Jardin Pierre Goudouli which was right outside our hotel. It is again a park in the centre of a roundabout, but only a fraction of the size of the Grand Rond. There were always people sitting on the many benches that ran along the pathways. In the centre is a waterfall which children seem to flock to. As this was later the children were slightly more subdued.

A côté de la fontaine
A côté de la fontaine

I hope this post has put over to you what a beautiful city Toulouse is, especially for Street Photographers. there is so much to see and do, and as you can see around every corner is another surprise. I haven’t really hit on the amount of churches or markets there are, so add that into the mix and there is something for everyone.

The images in this post were a bit different to previous ones. The first being that all the captions are in French. Now it wouldn’t be fair to Esther for me to keep bothering her for translations. So I used my minimal French, and also Mr Google, as Baz pointed out on Flickr. So they are probably the correct words but in wrong contexts, so I may come over like the Policeman in Allo Allo to any French speaking people, and for that I apologise.

Also, although they were all shot with my Nikon D7000, all but two of them taken with the 85mm 1.8G, the rest were shot with my 50mm 1.8D. I wasn’t completely happy with the results of the 50mm on this trip so since returning home I have upgraded to the Nikon 50mm 1.8G.

Following on from the Please Come Close post I have continued experimenting with the way I edit the shots. I really feel that some of the above shots look so much better than I was previously editing, giving more feeling and depth. However a lot of work and experimentation is still needed to improve others. It would be nice to have feedback on this, positive or negative, I am quite thick skinned, although I may never talk to you ever again. Joke. Seriously, an honest critique is a good critique.

6 thoughts on “A Wander in Toulouse

  1. Nice shot from the bus. It’s so difficult to get a good shot when the bus is moving but you definitely got a good one.

    Hahaha. That guy does look a little like Will I Am

    I *love* the shot of the little girl and her father. I even favorited it on Flickr. It’s just such a nice moment that you captured. That little girl has to be about 5 or 6.

    You really showed how narrow the streets are. In Les habitants se précipitent à travers I’m surprised that so many people were able to be there at once.

    LOL!! Thanks for the shoutout. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot more of this type of thing as the weather gets even warmer.

    I can never really offer any kind of feedback on things like editing and whatnot because I feel that the way a photographer photographs and edits things is a personal choice. We all have our own style. I do like how we can see more of the background in your shots. Your close up shots are great but it’s always good to experiment with new things. There. That’s the most feedback I can offer. 🙂

    • Thank you Tina. That was great feedback.

      You like the wider shots, which is where I am progressing to hence the purchase of the new 50mm, and looking at something wider or maybe an FX camera!

      La petite fille de papa is my favourite shot. I think it shows such a closeness between a father and daughter.

      Also you got the real feel of Toulouse with the narrow streets.

  2. MisterGC

    Well, Tina hit the nail on the head about the wider angled shots you took. I like to get some of the surroundings in when shooting and that’s probably why the two children standing at the tree is my personal favorite from this post.

    The narrow streets are great because they just ‘funnel’ the people into the shooting zone and the tall buildings either side make great frames.

    When it comes to post processing I tend to go for a contrasty look and a bit of vignetting when needed which, in the case of the ‘kissers’, you put to great use to drag the viewers attention straight to them and cancel out the car which would have been a huge distraction.

    An enjoyable read Wayne, cheers.

  3. I’m glad you like the editing and it has a good way to go, however “Amour de jeunesse” is one of the best I’ve done. I could have cropped the car out but that would have spoiled it. You can see that the street is in strong shadow, and I think the editing gives a feeling of “out of the way”, “in secret”.

  4. Generally, I’m not a fan of portrait size pictures, but yours show the narrow streets in Toulouse, and the light is beautiful (la rue tranquille, dans la cour).
    “Amour de jeunesse” et “la petite fille de papa” are so sweet…
    Un mec cool is excellent.
    For some shots, I think your editing is a bit dark, with the black tones … (“à l’abri derrière les grilles”, or “perdu dans l’arbre”)… maybe it is my screen, I don’t know.
    I love your french titles, so poetic.
    “Perdu dans l’arbre” means lost in the tree. Maybe you wanted to say “perdu sous l’arbre” ? but leave it like that, it is so sweet !

  5. Thank you for your honest feedback Esther.

    Like you I am not a fan of “portrait” style shots, preferring “letterbox”.

    Thank you for nice comments, but more so for your critique regarding some of the shots being dark. I have been experimenting with different ways of editing. I think some have worked out excellent but as you say not all. I am still trying to find those happy mediums.

    With regard to the “Perdu dans l’arbre”, I do look to you to correct my French grammar, but on this occasion I did entitle it correctly as there were 2 children in the tree, which we can’t see in the shot, hence the title.

    Keep the critique coming Esther.

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