Postcard from Toulouse, France: How to fall in love, one quirky detail at a time

Above: 19th-century molded terracotta caryatids

Walk and walk. And, even at the risk of stumbling, always look up. The rewards are rich, and you will be smitten.

An architectural embellishment I’ve never noticed elsewhere is the frequent usage of lacy, “picado” metalwork at the top of windows in Toulouse. Hoping someone will provide a proper term for this or know of other places it is found. Sometimes the wrought-iron designs on balconies echo those patterns, and often elaborate wrought-iron railings meticulously match the carved or molded work adorning the buildings. And the contrasting patterns of brick and stone are striking and distinctively Toulouse.

These architectural details range about six centuries or so in age, but this randomness represents how they are encountered around the city.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Sculptural details reward those afoot

Sometimes you feel as though a sculptor caught his subjects mid-sentence, as above where a god appears mansplaining to an unimpressed goddess. The mermen sentenced to forever support a balcony must complain constantly of stiff necks. A saint might appear empathetic to those below; a goddess indifferent. The muses atop the Opera House may be designed to inspire, but the satyr with the glaring eyes is a figure of nightmares. Is the horse heralded for its nobility or merely serving as a sign for a butcher of yore?

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Postcard from Lecce, Italy: Baroque flamboyance found up, down, all around

lecce dog on balcony

Ambling around the narrow streets in Lecce is the major activity and always rewarding. The figurative brackets supporting balconies are particularly amusing for boulevardiers.

The mosaic flooring is found inside and outside the apartment in Palazzo Pio, where we stayed.