The Shady Side of Toulouse: Week 4

Published by flag-gb Anonymous . — 4 years ago

Blog: The Erasmus Diaries:
Tags: flag-fr Erasmus blog Toulouse, Toulouse, France

Week 4

You know when you hit a turning point? This was it. This was the make or break week - and unfortunately for me I hit both.

I'd like to think I'm the sort of person who can deal with a lot - I've dealt with emotional stress before, and had real-life experiences that have made me quite a hardened individual, but Week 4 of living in Toulouse made me realise I'm not the strongest person.

To start with, the Internet in my accommodation stopped working, which if you're trying to do constant uni homework, stay in touch with the people back home you care about, and just generally chill and wind down, means you can't do anything. I spent a good amount of my time in an area in my accommodation called the 'Gamer Room' (you can imagine what it was like), having to endure people shouting through their headsets, just to catch up with loved ones, write French essays and catch up on American Horror Story.

Then, to make matters worse, my computer cord then sparked and set alight, so I was finally forced to head to FNAC (French's techy store which is everywhere for some reason - think Apple-type domination). On my way there, I experienced my first harassment. I'd dealt with males shouting across the road or on transport, various incidents in clubs, and strange staring from men, but this time I was followed onto public transport, repeatedly harassed, followed off public transport, groped, shouted at, and the only way I got out of the situation was through shouting back in French and English to be left alone, and asking a security guard to diffuse the situation.

Girls, beware, according to stats, 100% of French women have been sexually harassed on public transport, so be prepared for that (little problem to work on, France).

Things eventually hit rock bottom, following that weekend's night out with our big group. Me and my friend who lived in the same accommodation spotted a couple of our friends looking a little worse for wear, and went to investigate what was going on. We soon discovered that our friend had been accosted and mugged, so decided it was a good idea to walk to the local police station.

Bad idea

One solid piece of advice I'd give to a student in Toulouse is get a cab to the station, or you're in for the worst side of Toulouse.

Unfortunately, our detour took us towards the Sin-City esque part of Toulouse. Grim doesn't begin to describe the ambience. As the four of us (thank God we had a male in the group or Taken 4 would have been made pretty soonish) attempted to make our way across the less-pleasant part of Toulouse, we came across a heart-crushing number of street workers, all who even more sadly, knew very well where the local police station was and ended up acting as our guides, a shocking number of kerb crawlers and harassers who clearly saw we were international students and not offering any kind of night-time service. Nearing the police station, we came across a car crash, and had to walk (I'm not even joking) across broken glass. Finally, five minutes after this (after a 1 hour plus walk), we reached the police station and were able to report the theft, missing items, and get back for 7 a. m. Pretty much the worst night of the year abroad, but also a very telling one about the state of French society once you hit the outskirts of a supposedly thriving city.


Keeping it positive, however, the week was also full of fun experiences. We hit up the French cuisine hard, trying out some amazing restaurants - Meet The Meat and La Compagnie Française are the places to be at in France for dinner.

We also hosted our first cheese & wine night, and all the girls got to know each other a lot better, and we soon felt like we'd been friends for much longer than a month.


Our friends from uni came to visit from Montpellier and got a taste of all things Toulousaine, from cuisine and drinking, to natural parks and sights. La Caribe Bar is a great place to take your friends for drinks and summertime fun if you're ever hosting a big group, and it turns into a club inside, so make sure to give it a try during your stay.

Word of advice? Be prepared for bad things to happen. This is adult life, and in big cities, there are always going to be risks. Being a London born-and-bred girl, and living in Brum, I didn't find what I experienced in Toulouse particularly traumatic, but it was a bit of a shock to the system, as I was seeing my new whereabouts through rose-tinted sunglasses. Just be aware of being somewhat new to your surroundings, hang out in big groups at night and make sure you're with people who can look out for you if needs be, and be careful. Don't flash around your valuables, be as streetwise as you'd be if you were at home, and keep yourself to yourself at times - it might just help you.

Week 5

A friend visits from London, a week full of trips and visiting Toulouse more, girls' meal nights out, and heading home for the first time since leaving and more... here!

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Comments (2 comments)

  • flag-gb Mame Attafuah 6 years ago

    omg, lol well hat just gave me the fright of my life!!! I'm moving to Toulouse in a few weeks..
    thanks for this though, it was really informative and ill keep that in mind at all times...

  • flag-gb Anonymous . 6 years ago

    It isn't all bad! It's just that you have to have your wits about you!

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