Running through Toulouse Before the City Wakes Up

The Canal du Midi in Toulouse, a great place for a morning run.
The Canal du Midi in Toulouse, a great place for a morning run.

Today I took advantage of a time zone difference to rise and shine at 4:45 am. It was the perfect time to go running here in downtown Toulouse, and when I hit the streets at 5:15 am, there was no one to be seen. I heaaded out toward the

Years ago, a resident told me, Toulouse was a dirty city. Now the mayor insists on sweepers and washers like this who clean up every morning making the streets shine.
Years ago, a resident told me, Toulouse was a dirty city. Now the mayor insists on sweepers and washers like this who clean up every morning making the streets shine.

Canal du Midi, the famous watery highway that you can navigate many hundreds of miles across France.

My only company on the streets were the trucks with men hosing down the pavement with power washers, and collecting every scrap of litter with vacuum hoses. As I ran past dark alleys and by men sleeping underneath the bridges, I looked behind me, a little nervous since I was in a major city and it was still night. But as I ran I thought of the advantages I had–first, robbers probably aren’t runners, and second, the only thing of value I had on me was my iPhone.

My very first travel story I wrote when I was in high school was about waking up very early in Normandy, and the thrill that I had walking through a small village with nobody yet awake. I never forgot the clarity and excitement I felt that morning, looking up at cats in windows, watching distant figures of farmers pedaling out to fields in dim light, and most of all the thrill of being in a foreign land.

This is the longest canal in France, it goes from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, 150 miles long.
This is the longest canal in France, it goes from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, 150 miles long.

As I ran today, I went farther than I usually do, heeding my doc’s advice to stretch my workouts longer, and instead of three, go four. I ran the towpath along the canal, and at 6:15, finally saw some other people, a couple waiting outside a hotel for a cab. I ran right past my hotel, wanting to increase my mileage, and listening to music as I ran. I didn’t walk as much as I sometimes do, I was intent on doing more miles and energized by my setting here in Toulouse.

I’m at it again, spending time in France, one of my all-time favorite places. This is what life is for, this to me is the point of it all, and this therefore, is about as good at it gets.

This story is part of France Wine Travels, a collection of travel stories about the wine regions of France. 

Vacuum trucks take care of whatever is left after the hoses have passed over the streets in Toulouse.
Vacuum trucks take care of whatever is left after the hoses have passed over the streets in Toulouse.
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