Sunday mornings are usually pretty quiet in France. The stores are closed, the roads are bare. A man walks around the corner with a copy of today’s newspaper and turns into a local café. A small truck arrives nearby. Three people get out and set up a table with a red tent and start selling baguettes. Magically half a dozen people appear within minutes to buy these. Slowly but surely Toulouse starts to wake up.

Right in the heart of Toulouse is Place du Capitole. On one side of the square is the city hall, a stunning building that dates from 1190. Opposite, and with a fantastic view of city hall there are a number of cafes, brasseries and restaurants that spill out for a good 20 metres into the square with hundreds of tables and chairs filled pretty much all day and well into the evening with both young and old. Here is the perfect place to watch the energy of the city. Early on a Sunday morning, it is also a great place to grab a hot chocolate with breakfast.

After walking up and down the line-up of welcoming cafes we chose les Arcades. We order their breakfast; 5.30Euros for a hot drink, orange juice, a croissant and half a baguette with a selection of jams and butter. The hot chocolate comes out in a simple black mug. The French know how to make hot chocolate. Your average hot chocolate here is good.  This one is the kind of hot chocolate I would be perfectly happy starting every morning with, especially with this view. It is hot milk with a light touch of chocolate, just enough to keep you satisfied but not too much to make it taste like dessert.

We are the only ones out on the terrace this morning. It is a little bit chilly so most have chosen to sit inside. A man in black pants and a crisp white shirt slips the bill under a cup on our table for when we are done. There is no rush and we spend quite a while here, watching the city wake up. Once we see the large front doors of the city hall open up, we get up and walk over and go inside. Through the courtyard there is a door to the left that leads to a grand staircase. The walls along the staircase and throughout the whole first floor are covered in very large and quite impressive paintings. Free of charge.  Definitely worth a visit.

Verdict: If you are in Toulouse, regardless what day, stopped at Place Capitole de is a must. If you come here in the morning you can have hot chocolate with breakfast, in the afternoon you can have it with a selection of crepes. Brasserie Les Arcades, 14 Place Capitole, Toulouse, France