Paris is only a couple of hours, if that, from Toulouse if you fly but, after totalling the time needed to take the train from Pamiers, the shuttle bus to the airport, the check-in time, the flight, the transfer from airport to city centre and metro to near my hotel, I opted for the SNCF instead. The National Society of the Iron Way--loose translation--is slow travel but easier on the nerves. By 7 p.m. last night, I was wandering through the tunnels under the Gare d'Austerlitz in search of the metro.
The hotel I'm staying in is bohemian life personified with ornate and very old wallpaper, a precipitous wood staircase and a tiny lobby furnished with crimson-velvet-covered chairs. I'm on the third floor and this is the view when I lean out over the little balcony. Yes, really. No "zoom"used on the camera. This is what I see--and I still can't get used to it.