The “Place Victor Hugo” in Toulouse city’s center is the place to be to experience the best of the region’s foods and gastronomy.
The center of the square is occupied by one of the south west of France’s largest covered market that uses the first level of the building (unfortunately of a new modern and out of place architecture) that also houses, at the second level, three restaurants – “Le Marget”, “Le Loucheben” et “Au bon graillou” – which serve food prepared mainly from the super-fresh ingredients bought in the downstairs market.
The Victor Hugo market offers a hard to match, even in a food preoccupied country like France, selection and quality of foods displayed on packed counters: from a vast range of Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea fresh fish, to hundreds of types of cheeses, to rabbit “terrine” and pre-made jars of Cassoulet, “Toulouse” sausages, escargots cooked à la Provençale, meats including horse meat, fresh local produce and of course bread and wine.
The market has also an interesting history: it dates from the early 19th century when it was an open market, and the largest of the 3 of the Toulouse markets: Victor Hugo, Les Carmes and Saint Cyprien. The (unfortunate!) modern building that houses it nowadays was built in 1959 and replaced a metallic hall that was itself built in 1892.
The “Place Victor Hugo” is also bordered by a quite spectacular multitude of food stores. There is the famous “Olivier” chocolate shop: founded in 1780 is the oldest chocolate shop (“chocolaterie”) in France.
Then there is the Bacquié delicatessen (“epicerie fine”) established in 1896 by Jules Bacquié, and run now by Patrick and Olivier Bacquié great-grandsons of Jules. The delicatessen that offers now fine foods like Aquitaine caviar, real Commercy biscuits, black bigorre pork meats, rare spices like the wild pepper of Madagascar and a large assortment of teas and fine chocolates is known especially for its range of coffees that are roasted in-house. Three days a week, between 7am and 1pm, the coffee is roasted in the room adjacent to the store and visible from the street in the old-fashion way: batches of 75kg of coffee take 20 minutes to roast at 200C – while in the industrial way it takes 5 minutes to roast 200kg of coffee. The process has the not unpleasant by product, of infusing the whole neighborhood with the distinct sweet smell of coffee.
Another notable store of the “Place Victor Hugo” is the “Xavier” cheese shop – “fromagerie” – held by François Bourgon, winner, in 2011, of the ” Meilleur Ouvrier de France” award (Best cheese maker in France). The cheese shop that sells at any time a range of more than 250 cheeses has its own cellar where the chesses are aged. The cellar is open to visit on established nights and on reservation (more info at: http://www.xavier.fr/Soirees-Caveau).
Hi, I am Carla. I am living and working in the beautiful city of Toulouse, France.
I like history, travel and... the southwest of France and try to share through this blog information about events that might be of interest to the travelers to this part of the world!