Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Travel: Toulouse and Gers

This past weekend I went to Toulouse, France and the surrounding Gers region to visit my daughter Coco who is in school there for three months. With or without a child to visit, I would repeat this weekend any time - we had fun, we relaxed, we shopped, we ate (I had foie gras 4 times!), and we saw so many beautiful things. Here, I'll show you.....

I was a crazy person when I took this picture. I hadn't seen Coco in almost a month, and I had just arrived at her beautiful school, pictured above. I knew she was about to run up the hill and around the corner to find me. Most children casually and quietly walked up to greet their parents, but knowing Coco she would be louder and less reserved (in other words - more American!) than the other children. She did not disappoint. I heard her yelling (at the site of her best friend's parents) before she even came into view. When she saw me she jumped on me, and I surprised myself by bursting into tears. I had to walk around the following tour of the school with red eyes and a red nose!

The chic entrance hall at Coco's school.

I would go back to school if it looked like this, wouldn't you?

A collage in the drawing room. Now I could see why my horse loving daughter felt so at home there.

After our reunion, we drove to Chateau Lartigolle to stay for the weekend. It really is like staying as a guest at an amazing private house. There were 6 families there, and we had casual breakfast and a delicious sit down dinner all together each day. I could have happily spent the whole weekend in the Chateau, but we had shopping to do!

Coco is my constant flea market buddy, and so when Saturday morning arrived, we knew we had to find the best market around. We lucked out - on the first weekend of every month, Toulouse hosts an antiques market in the center of town on the Allées Jules Guesde - we were there on the right day!

I got a kick out of seeing these plates because this was the pattern my mother had when I was growing up. I love how in France they have a special plate just for eating asparagus. French people must have a lot of shelf space!

I am always searching for great military shirts. I didn't buy this one because I already have one that's similar, but I took pictures because I like how pointy the collar is.

Do you know Moynat? They are one of the oldest trunk-makers in France - even older than Vuitton and Goyard. LVMH recently bought it and hired a designer from Hermes to be its Creative Director. It is definitely a brand to watch, and it was fun to see a vintage trunk at the market.

Every kid's dream, right? I would take the Ferrari, whereas Coco wanted to mint-colored convertible at the back.

I should have bought this saddle. I love the red felt mixed with the old leather. It was at the very end of the market, and the rain had started and we were freezing cold. I didn't even ask how much it was. What was I thinking?

A camera is key at any market. It keeps you from buying things you just want to remember. I didn't necessarily need to own these handkerchiefs, but I was blown away by how beautifully they were packaged.

This was my one flea market purchase. I love anything military, and I love how it is actually a collage of sorts - the man's face is a photograph and the scene around it is drawn out and then painted over in places. It was 50 euros. Not bad.

My other regret are these insane dolls' eyes. They were beautifully framed, and one of the most original things I have ever seen. Coco was totally freaked out by them, so we moved on quickly, but I wish I had at least got the man's phone number so I could have tried to get him to ship them to me later.

On the street in the old part of Toulouse - a great mix of old world architecture and new creative energy.

The chicest pharmacy I have ever seen, in Toulouse.

Coco and I went to visit a semi-ruined chateau in Lavardens, about an hour outside of Toulouse. This is the view from the incredibly charming village surrounding the chateau.

Coco at the chateau.

Chateau de Lavardens.

After the Chateau we went to Auch, where Coco wanted to show me the cathedral. I was impressed she wanted to go there again, just to show me. When I was a kid, I was so bored walking around churches and cathedrals - the only part I enjoyed was lighting a candle in honor of someone you love. I guess not much has changed!

On Sunday night our Chateau had the night off from making supper so we drove up into the hills to a tiny place called Auberge du Rantaures. It was very rustic and eccentric, and the wife was the server and the husband was the cook. Every meal was cooked over this open fire. I had sautéed foie gras in an orange sauce and then delicious whole roasted cod.

Our supper cooking over burning logs.

Coco and I having a final twilight ping pong game at the Chateau. She hasn't beaten me yet, but she's getting close!


  1. Dear Amanda,
    thank you for sharing your beautiful photographs and personal experiences! As I love harmony and sophisticated beauty looking through your blog makes my heart sing.
    I hope that your daughter enjoys her stay in France.
    Have a happy February
    Kind regards,

  2. thank you so much for sharing! your images are so beautiful. your daughter is lovely. i love how she came running looking for you!

  3. I am crazy over that painting! Great find.

  4. I'm French and I love this part of France, my grand-mother lived there (near Lectoure) since 2009. It's a beautiful countryside with so many colours.
    If I can... the name of the chateau is Lavardens, and not Laverdans :-) !

  5. I've been following your blog for the past few months and I really enjoy your 'eye' for experiences. I could not stop myself from posting here to note how much I've loved the way your daughter Coco is posing in one of the photos, so similar to your profile picture. That crossing of legs and hair in the wind! Lovely too see, those genes :-)


  6. Hi Amanda!

    I'm very interested to put my daughter in an exchange student like Coco. May I ask for your help on how you go about the process?
    Thank ou very much.



  7. Hi Amanda!

    I'm very interested to put my daughter in an exchange student like Coco. May I ask for your help on how you go about the process?
    Thank ou very much.


  8. I really like your blog (and your style). Although I just wonder why you almost never answer questions from readers. I could understand if you don't really want a dialogue but it seems the opposite when we read your so personal stories about your life, your taste and what you like. If there is something I like more than intimate stories these are comments from readers, they infuse the blogs with great energy and passion. Hope you find the time to respond to peoples queries, I am sure you would bring a lot of happiness to your followers, the potential readers of your future books.

    1. Dear Anonymous - Thank you for your encouragement to reply to comments. I will do my best to answer them. However, I find it more inviting to respond when I know the commenter's name, or at least their username. Amanda

  9. How funny, I have been following your blog since not so long and today I was checking your photos, and really on the photos of the laverdens castle I was like "gosh, I know this place, but it can't be !"
    and then saw your comment saying that it is actually the château de Lavardens !
    The Gers is such a small place, and not a lot of people (even frenchs) know where it is.
    But I'm proud to be from Auch and it is lovely place to live ! Glad you came by to see a bit of the "Gascogne" and eat Foie Gras !

  10. Hi Amanda, lovely photos and an amazing town! I'll visit Toulouse, so I've a lot of questions to make you!