Is it the influence of the famous quarter of an hour in Toulouse or a local propensity to overcome time constraints, public clocks in Toulouse do not always indicate the correct time. That of Saint-Etienne cathedral is even totally out of time. A short stroll through Toulouse timepieces.
What time is it ? While almost everyone has a watch on their wrist or a smartphone in their pocket, indicating the exact time with precision, wanting to read the public time on clocks is undoubtedly due to a certain taste for vintage, or even a deviant behavior about retro, or a somewhat shady desire to go back in time. Yet that’s what we decided to do, getting on our bike to check if the public clocks in Toulouse were showing all the right and same time.
Direction Saint-Cyprien in this hot early afternoon for a month of May. On my watch and on my smartphone, it is exactly 2:30 p.m. when the electronic pharmacy sign, located at the corner of rue de la République and the interior square Saint-Cyprien, indicates in a flashing and digital way a 2:43 p.m. little rush. A quarter of an hour (Toulouse?) in advance. Why not after all. It’s written that we won’t be late, left bank.
Punctual in the city center
I decide to cross the Garonne to see if we are more precise on the right bank. A vague memory of a clock dear to Toulouse residents guides my wheels to the roundabout on the boulevard, opposite Place Arnaud-Bernard. No luck ! Professor Jean-Jacques Laffont’s roundabout, that’s his name, which I learned at the same time, no longer has a clock. The refurbishment of the crossroads has undoubtedly got the better of the presence of this timepiece, which was present here for a long time. I am reduced to continuing to Place Jeanne d’Arc and its bus station, where the four-faced clock located near the building of the Compagnie française is still there. And indicates, at the right time, 2:45 p.m., the same time that we look at it from the four cardinal points, and exact. On the other hand, the Jeanne d’Arc pharmacy, just opposite, eight minutes in advance, indicating alternately 2:53 p.m. and an ambient temperature also a little optimistic at 40°! In full sun, it is true.
At the Matabiau station, if the trains are not always punctual, the two monumental clocks surmounting the facade classified the same and good time. There will be no excuse if you miss your train! In the Capitol keep and on the main facade of the town hall, on the Place du Cap’ side, the exact time is also displayed. Could the Toulouse quarter of an hour be a legend? The 15 hours are even punctuated by a drink which I am not sure comes from the town hall, but exact and sound.
Time has stopped at the cathedral
In desperation, here I am in Place Saint-Etienne, on the forecourt of the eponymous cathedral. The big clock of the religious building, representative of southern Gothic, seems to have stopped, indicating 4:45 p.m., which is still more than an hour and a half ahead of the real time. O time, suspend your flight! Has the hand of God rested on the hands of the big, elegant dial with a white background, as if to show that the divine time has nothing to do with our base material contingencies? In fact, the bells ring, they, at the right time, indicate to me a friendly passer-by, a regular in the neighborhood. And the minute hand would wake up intermittently, like an hourly evocation of the resurrection, sometimes shaking off for a good quarter of an hour all at once. A real miracle.