Monday, 8 December 2008

France: Toulouse

As we drove into Toulouse, we experienced one of the disadvantages of being car-borne: there wasn't anywhere to park near Les Abattoirs, so we missed the chance to see something of its enormous collection of contemporary painting and sculpture, and Picasso's Minotaur backdrop. After handing the car back, though, we were free to explore the old centre of the city, and particularly some of its many fine churches: Caroline had only passed through before, and it was many years since I had visited.

I had forgotten how spectacular is the interior St Sernin, Europe's largest Romanesque basilica. And I don't at all remember the brilliant carvings on the church's Porte Miègeville: in the tympanum, there is the Ascension, witnessed by the disciples in stylised poses: they look faintly Egyptian. The figures on this capital are more naturalistic: I like the rather laid-back angel who accompanies Adam and a glamorous Eve out of the Garden of Eden. (This photograph also indicates the repair work needed on St Sernin's exterior.)

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