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Lap up local culture and a certain intimacy at these stylish maisons d'hôtes (B&Bs):

■ Les Loges de Saint Sernin ( % 05 61 24 44 44;; 12 rue St-Bernard; d incl breakfast Mon-Fri/weekend €120/105) Sylviane Tatin, mother of four, is the soul behind this B&B on the 2nd floor of an 18th-century town house. Its four rooms mix old with new and reflect their natural surroundings: St-Sernin is a romantic red-brick colour, Capitole is orange, Garonne is soft beige and Canal du Midi is vibrant green. Breakfast in summer on a balcony overlooking Sylviane's husband's courtyard golf course.

■ Anjali Maison d'Hôtes ( % 09 54 22 42 93, 06 84 29 78 09;; 86 Grande Rue St-Michel; s/d/tr incl breakfast from €75/85/125; ) Taking a 19th-century house with wooden shutters and a secret walled garden as her canvas, Delphine has created four rooms with their own art-inspired quirk. Hampi is as serene as the journeys to southern India that inspired it; Bré-doury is family friendly with a kids' room kitted out with boatlike bunk beds; Tolosa, typically Toulousian with its gorgeous exposed red-brick wall, is equipped for wheelchair guests; and black-and-white Cinema Paradiso has its own bedside projector to screen films on the wall opposite.

for the tastes of market vendors and shoppers alike, they serve up generous, delicious menus of hearty fare.

El Borriquito Loco (% 05 61 25 34 54;; 25 rue des Paradoux; plat du jour €10, lunch menus €10-26; S lunch & dinner Mon-Sat) This Spanish tapas bar is a bit mad with its jumble of masks, vintage clothing, red wedge shoes et al strung in its wrought-iron balconies. But it's as cheap as chips (€12.50 for a three-course lunch including wine and coffee) and morphs into a DJ club with dance floor.

La Réserve ( % 05 61 21 84 00; 8 rue Jean Suau; lunch menu €12.50, mains €10-15; S lunch & dinner) When you need a break from duck, hit this stylish restaurant with an industrial interior and plenty of pavement seating. Its menu has everything -salads, pizza and pasta alongside the city's signature confit. Weekends, the kitchen's open all day.

Emile (% 05 61 21 05 56;; place St-Georges; menus lunch €20 & €30, dinner €36 & €41;

S lunch & dinner Tue-Sat) This top address, around since the 1940s, is the place for the reputedly perfect Toulouse-style cassoulet (p43) on one of the city's loveliest squares.

HIU'IIM Chez Navarre ( % 05 62 26 43 06; 49 Grande Rue Nazareth; menu lunch/dinner €12.50/20; S lunch & dinner Tue-Fri, dinner Sat) Fed up with restaurant dining? This fabulous 16th-century table d'hôte with red-brick walls, old wooden bar, beamed ceiling and shared candlelit tables is perfect. The rustic French cuisine of simple terrines, soups and one fixed meal ooze the same charming 'at-home' feel.

Pargaminières; 2-/3-course menu €19/22, salads €14; S lunch & dinner daily) A quintessential French bistro with wooden shutters and a well-aged bottle of Armagnac planted firmly on the bar, this contemporary spot has a handful of tables in the sun and several in the shade. A glass chandelier adds a touch of funk inside. Wi-fi hotspot; student-hot.

Le Bon Vivre (% 05 61 23 07 17; www.lebonvivre .com; 15bis place Wilson; menus €25-36; S lunch & dinner daily) Old-style regional cuisine doesn't get meatier than at this local favourite: ris de veau à l'ancienne (calf sweetbreads old-style), cas-soulette de lentils spiced with museaux (pig snout) and pigs' ears or a humble plate of cured ham (noir de Bigorre) courtesy of the re-gions's precious Bigorre Gascony black pig.

Michel Sarran (% 05 61 12 32 32; 21 blvd Armand Duportal; menus lunch/dinner €48/98; S lunch & dinner Mon-Fri) As with many Michelin twin-starred gastronomic restaurants, lunch is good value at Michel Sarran's delightful town house on a tree-lined avenue; the menu includes wine and coffee.

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