This weekend my husband and I took a little trip without the kids to a big city. Toulouse is similarly sized to Denver, in my home state of Colorado. Sometimes Toulouse reminds me of Boston, with its red brick buildings and tree-lined streets. At the same time, Toulouse is a very contemporary French city. The population is diverse and the people on the streets are of all persuasions. In general, one feels safe and the mood is pleasant.
Normally, when we visit Toulouse we stay with family, but this time we rented a hotel room off of TripAdvisor (and Hotels.com). Saturday afternoon, after eating with my brother-in-law, we decided to stop and pick up some bottled water. Just because one can safely drink water out of the bathroom tap, doesn’t mean that one WANTS to drink water out of the bathroom.
As we are driving down the street, we saw a little market. Similar to your average French mini-grocer, with boxes of produce outside. I hopped out of the car and walked in. Unlike your normal French grocer, where the cashier immediately says “Bonjour!” I was greeted by silence. After a minute or so of trying to decide between flat water (l’eau plate aka Evian) or seltzer water (l’eau gazeuses aka Perrier), I realized why I had not been greeted. I was a tall woman, in tight jeans, standing amongst conservatively dressed Muslim men wearing robes and caps.