Thinking of visiting Toulouse soon? We’d love to be your DJs for the trip! We’ve created a Toulouse playlist just for the occasion, and you’ll get a little taste of what’s to come below. Local artists only!
To learn more about the beautiful ‘Pink City’, we got in touch with Magyd Cherfi, French singer, writer, and actor from Toulouse. He rose to fame thanks to the success of his former band, Zebda, and their hit single ‘Tomber la Chemise’. As he’s a local, we’ve asked him a few questions about what he thinks of your next destination and if he has any recommendations.
Hi, Magyd! We’re so happy to have you here with us today. We all know you because of your 1998 hit single ‘Tomber la Chemise’ with your former band, Zebda. To this day, Zebda is still one of the most famous bands from Toulouse, and all of France for that matter. Do you think you’ve influenced the younger generations?
Yes, I think we brought something universal to the table, with a mix of modern drum machine sounds. We were the first in Toulouse to try out that genre of music, mixing rock, eastern flavours and Caribbean rhythms, and all of it was infused with a sense of realness and being proud of where we came from.
You started writing at a very young age. How has Toulouse, your home town, had an influence on your literary work?
All writing is inspired by the love of those around you. For me, Toulouse is the city where my family, friends and loved ones live. I’m inspired by a kind of rustic mindset, because ultimately, Toulouse is the Province and the most wonderful works from writers like Balzac give you a sense of provincial dreams, deep, traditional customs, and an entire heritage that has helped me discover who I am.
You’ve recently released a new album with a new band, Toulouse Contour. Where’d the idea for this group come from? Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
It was inspired by a meeting between three local singers: Yvan Cujious, Art Mengo and myself, Magyd, as well as a desire to sing songs by artists from the Midi Pyrénées region. We’re also inspired by people like Claude Nougaro, Francis Cabrel, Juliette Nourredine and also Mader, Gold and Pierre Groscolas, not to mention Pierre Vassiliu, Pierre Perret and Charles Trenet. It’s a way for us to reclaim our Occitanian heritage and remind ourselves how proud we are to be from this region.
Could you possibly tell us a little bit about Toulouse and your favourite parts of the city? Which museums or art galleries are must-sees on any trip to Toulouse?
Well, there’s Les Abattoirs, of course, which is a magnificent location exhibiting mostly contemporary art, ‘modern’ art, and offers local artists the chance to have their works put on display. I remember seeing a magnificent retrospective of Picasso there. If you want something more classic or are passionate about painting and sculpture, you could visit le musée des Augustins.
MATOU also comes to mind, which is the former Musée de l’Affiche de Toulouse, and it’s definitely a must-see.
You also have to visit Aeroscopia, which tells the wonderful history of aviation from the turn of the 20th century until today.
What are your top three favourite bars / restaurants in Toulouse? Is there a typical regional dish you’d say visitors must try in one of these restaurants?
For the best fish in Toulouse, go to Chez Eric. L’entrecôte restaurant has the best rib steak, I love it. You could try the couscous at La Kasbah, mezze at La Mezzé, or there’s also l’Esquinade for anyone who likes Spanish food.
I can’t really think of a typical dish other than cassoulet (slow-cooked casserole). What makes Toulouse so special is the great variety of restaurants and dishes it has.
Have you seen a show recently that you particularly enjoyed?
I never miss the chance to see Pierre Perret at the Halle aux Grains, Toulouse’s most beautiful concert hall. And the Vivaldi quartet is also scheduled to perform there… I love Vivaldi.
And on that note, who are your favourite local artists?
Claude Nougaro, for sure.
The most well-known at the moment would be Bigflo et Oli, and also Cats on Trees, who I love. And in terms of writers, the excellent Jean Paul Dubois, or another local writer, Laurent Mauvinier.
Where’s the perfect place to sit down with a good book in Toulouse?
The Japanese garden in winter. Tiercerettes Square in summer.
What advice would you give to someone who just booked a flight to Toulouse?
They should visit the city centre and the old town, starting from Rue Saint Rome, heading towards Pont Neuf until they get to Saint-Cyprien – on foot or by bike, of course. There’s also an amazing botanical garden for a breath of fresh air, or the banks of the Garonne via the Quai de la Daurade.
And finally, if you had to go on holiday somewhere in Europe tomorrow, is there a Volotea destination that you’d like to visit, and why?
I’d say Athens. I don’t know anything about Greece and I’ve been dreaming of white sand, dry weather and chilling out, and I could do all that on the Mediterranean shore.