Cafe in Toulouse

"Shhhh!" said Miss Cynthia. "Doctor Steve is sleeping!"

I rubbed my eyes and sat up in bed. Now I remembered! We were in Toulouse, a city on the Garonne River in Southern France. I had never visited Toulouse before. I was eager to walk around and see the sights.

Miss Cynthia sat at a little desk, working with Baby Supercomputer. Doctor Steve coughed quietly in his sleep. Baby bears William and Merri sprawled together, fast asleep. Miss Cynthia and I were the only ones awake in the smoky early-morning light.

"Come here, Perry," whispered Miss Cynthia. "Look what’s happening in the square!"

The Place du CapitoleOur hotel room looked out over the Place du Capitole, site of the city’s municipal buildings. I went to the window and peeped around the drape.

"It must be market day!" I said. Trucks and cars circled into the square, unloading flats and cases and boxes. Men worked to put up tables and awnings. Their breath puffed out in the cold morning air. The square sizzled with good-natured activity.

"Shall we go see?" asked Miss Cynthia. "I think everyone here will sleep for awhile longer, don’t you?" Quietly, we found our outdoor clothes: a nice warm coat for Miss Cynthia, and a nice warm scarf for Perry Bear.

Maestro Michael!No tote bag today! Miss Cynthia and I would be arm-in-arm for our first adventure in France. The sun peeped brightly over the Place du Capitole. The early-morning air was cold and brisk; I was glad to have my nice warm scarf so early in the morning.

"Look!" said Miss Cynthia, "There’s Maestro Michael!" I leaned closer to see the poster in the shop window. Yes, there it was: a poster advertising the Symphony’s performance later that night. The Symphony would perform at the Theatre du Capitole, right here on the square.

"Maestro Michael looks very impressive," I said. I liked traveling with Michael Tilson Thomas. Even though he was a very famous conductor, he always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.

The Organic MarketWe turned and looked at the commotion in the center of the square. Long rows of stands ran the length of the square. As we watched, people came from all directions to visit the market. Miss Cynthia looked at me. "Shall we go see what everyone is selling?" she asked.

"Look! There’s a sign!" I said, as we crossed the street into the square. "’Marché Bio’" read Miss Cynthia. "That means ‘Organic Market’! You’ll like this, Perry—there’s nothing like French vegetables."

Beautiful French VegetablesMiss Cynthia was right! We moved from stall to stall, looking at the bright heaps of colorful vegetables. Tiny tender carrots, rosy round beets, fragrant onions and bright green cabbages glowed in the morning light.

"Bonjour, bonjour!" said the stall keepers. "Bonjour" is French for "Hello!" or "Good day!" Miss Cynthia was happy to practice her French. As we walked, she introduced me to everyone as her friend, "Perry Ours." That’s my name in French: Perry Ours Ewer, because "ours" is French for "bear".

Oh, the smells! There was fresh bread, hot and steaming. Look! A honey stand! I spent several minutes looking at the golden jars of honey, each flavored with nectar from a different type of flower.

French applesWe paused by a stand selling French apples. "Our friends in the Tri-Cities will want to know about apples in France," said Miss Cynthia. Our hometown in Washington State grows many kinds of apples.

We walked up and down the bustling market. Students from the nearby university tucked long baguettes of bread beneath their arms. Housewives haggled with stall keepers over plump round cheeses. A merry Jamaican sold French sailors’ jerseys. He chatted in English with Miss Cynthia.

"Perry, I’m cold," said Miss Cynthia. "Let’s find a café; and get something hot to drink!" In France, everyone enjoys watching the world from a sidewalk café. We crossed the street and entered a dark, cozy café.

Perry enjoys a French cafe"Bonjour," said Miss Cynthia. In French, she ordered coffee for herself and a nice hot chocolate for me. The waiter looked at us oddly. I suppose he’d never seen a traveling teddy bear before!

Soon our piping-hot drinks sat before us. I warmed my nose in the steam from my hot chocolate.

Miss Cynthia raised her coffee mug: "Salud!" she said. "Welcome to France, Perry Bear!"

Perry's Travels: