Glace à gogo: Our guide to the best ice cream in Toulouse
It’s hard to find a more essential ingredient to summer fun than ice cream – except maybe sunshine! Since we’re lucky to be in Toulouse, we’ve got the sunshine in abundance. And now, Taste of Toulouse has you covered, because I’m here to take you on a tour in search of the best “glace” in Toulouse!
Ice cream was first introduced to the general public in 1686, when a Sicilian named Procopio opened the Café Le Procope in Paris and started serving ices. Before that, it was a treat reserved for royalty or the very wealthy, due to the complexities and expense of transporting and storing the necessary ice without modern-day refrigeration.
We’ve come a long way from those times, but the basics are still the same – for an “iced cream”: you mix milk and/or cream, sugar, (sometimes) eggs, and your choice of flavorings, then churn and freeze. In short, it’s the ingredients that matter, as well as the skill of the maker.
Ice cream vs. Glace vs. Gelato
You might notice some differences between classic North American ice cream and the European-style “glace” (French) or “gelato” (Italian) that you find in France. Important note: recipe-wise, there’s not a lot of difference between French “glace” and Italian “gelato” – it’s the same style of what we’ll call “European” ice cream, just different languages.
Typically, European ice cream has less fat in it because of a higher milk-to-cream ratio and usually (but not always) uses fewer eggs. It is more dense, as milk doesn’t incorporate air as easily as cream (think of beating milk vs whipping cream) and because European ice cream is churned at a lower speed. Without all that air to keep it fluffy, European ice cream would freeze into solid blocks if it were served at the same temperature as North American ice cream, so it is served at a warmer temperature that makes it more moldeable. When you combine these qualities, you’ll find that European-style ice cream tastes more intense and more direct – there’s less fat to coat your tongue and our taste buds send stronger signals to the brain when we eat foods at higher temperatures.
Because it is more dense, European ice cream is usually sold in smaller scoops or “boules,” which gives the advantage of being able to try out more flavors at once (compared to the huge scoops you’ll find in North America)! You’ll be asked if you want it in a “pot” (cup) or a “cornet” (cone). In addition to “glace,” sorbet – which is made with little-to-no dairy – is also a popular option. For vegans and those with lactose intolerance, any good ice cream shop will be able to tell you which sorbets are dairy free.
On the lookout for quality ice cream
Color – Do these colors exist in the real fruits or nuts? Bright green pistachio or fluorescent yellow banana are dead giveaways of artificial coloring. Ask yourself, what would the real fruit look like if I smashed it?
Presentation – Great heaping mounds of ice cream that tower over the pans may look pretty, but if it’s piled far above the source of refrigeration, it’s either frozen solid (not good) or probably packed with fats and artificial emulsifiers to keep it from melting.
Labeling – What does the shop say about the ingredients they use? Many low-quality ice creams are made from powdered mixes with lots of preservatives, and some shops that boast that their ice cream is “fait ici” (made here) use these powdered mixes instead of making things from scratch. Look for shops that give you information about whether or not they use artificial colorings, preservatives, or mixes and where they source their ingredients. Using seasonal produce for limited-edition flavors is also a good sign.
What’s in a name?
Here in France, certain uses of words are protected in order to promote and preserve craftsmanship and savoir-faire. These can be guides to finding talented, local craftspeople.
Artisan Glacier – A business displaying the title of “artisan” means that a craftsperson is registered with the La Chambre des Métiers (the organization that regulates many trades) and has furnished the proper qualifications for a specific trade, usually a CAP/BAP (professional certificates in that can be achieved through a professional-track high school at the age of 17-18 or as an adult through continuing education) or at least 3 years of professional experience. (Don’t be fooled though – “Glace artisanal” is NOT a protected term and anyone can use it!)
Maître Artisan Glacier – The title of “Maître Artisan” denotes a much higher degree of professional qualification – usually the equivalent of a master’s degree plus at least 2 years of professional experience or 10+ years of professional experience. This title is much more highly regulated than “artisan.”
My favorite ice cream shops in/around Toulouse
Bello & Angeli Artisan Chocolatier Glacier
This talented local chocolatier is one of my favorites year-round for their high-quality and innovative range of chocolates, hot chocolate, and ice cream. They take great care with sourcing ingredients (fruit is sourced locally when possible) and everything is made fresh in their workshop just outside of Toulouse. They offer a wide range of flavors, from the traditional (raspberry, strawberry) to the exotic (sesame, calamansi), but everything I’ve tried has been easily some of the best I’ve ever had of that particular flavor. You’ll probably find me here at least once a week, no only because it’s the closest good ice cream to my apartment, but also because it’s just that good!
My main scoop: A luscious chocolate sorbet made with single-origin dark chocolate from Vietnam that had all of the complexity of a dark chocolate truffle without being weighed down by the usual fattiness of ice cream (you should also try their single-origin Ivory Coast chocolate sorbet just for comparison’s sake). Also, a rich salted caramel that was both sweet (but not too sweet) and savory. However, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention their amazing fruit sorbets, like locally-sourced raspberry and strawberry or lime-mango that’s a perfect pick-me-up for a hot summer afternoon.
Boutique: 12 rue des Filatiers, 31000 Toulouse
Salon de thé: 4 rue Victor Hugo, 31000 Toulouse
Barrelle Chocolatier Glacier Blagnac
This new chocolatier/glacier opened in Blagnac in 2017. Alexandre Albanese, one of the two co-founders, is a triple threat – trained in chocolates, pastry, AND ice cream – and everything is made by his hands in their shop with quality products that were carefully selected.
My main scoop: Any of their unique sorbets made with seasonal fruits (and vegetables!). Our favorites were Carrot Orange Ginger and Raspberry Red Pepper, but flavors rotate depending on the season, so be prepared for a delicious surprise.
35 rue Pasteur, 31700 Blagnac
My favorite left-bank chocolatier in the Saint Cyprien neighborhood just started making ice cream this year! As with their chocolates, expect to find interesting flavor combinations and excellent quality.
27 rue Réclusane, place de l’Estrapade, 31300 Toulouse
Maître Artisan Glacier based in Caumont (in Tarn-et-Garonne). He prioritises 100% natural and local ingredients. Milk for his ice creams is sourced from a local dairy farm only 10 km from his atelier. In 2012, Gault & Millau awarded him the title of Best Artisan Glacier in France.
My main scoop: The tart-n-tangy Cassis (black currant) sorbet or the Chocolate-Orange ice cream that back brought me back to my childhood of eating Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.
You can find his ice cream served by the scoop at:
Philippe Faur kiosk at Grand Café le Florida – 12 Place du Capitole, 31000 Toulouse (go here to beat the lines at the Amorino ice cream shop also located beneath the arcades of the Place du Capitole!)
La Boutique des Saveurs – 1 Rue Ozenne, 31000 Toulouse
Ô Sorbet d’Amour
This artisanal glacier, founded in 1935 in Arcachon (coastal town near Bordeaux) and boasting over 20 locations (some franchises) around the world, counts Toulouse as one of the originals. Despite global aspirations, Ô Sorbet d’Amour still sources milk from a neighboring dairy farm and makes all of their ice cream at their laboratory in the Gironde. They feature a dizzying array of flavors, some of which are organic, as well as a multitude of dairy-free sorbets.
My main scoop: a well-balanced Pear Chocolate ice cream that featured flavorful chunks of pears with swirls of chocolate that didn’t overwhelm the fruit.
28 rue Montardy, 31000 Toulouse
This newly-opened shop is a franchise out of Saint Malo in Bretagne that boasts a wide variety of flavors (regular, organic, and vegan) that are made with no preservatives, powdered mixes, dyes, or additives. Note: Glace here is sold by the “super boule” (at least twice the size of a normal scoop), which can make it difficult to order multiple flavors. However, tasting before buying was highly encouraged at this friendly shop, so we didn’t have to worry about making the wrong choice.
My main scoop: a refreshing and slightly boozy Mojito sorbet (made with rum and flecked with mint and lime peel). If you want to show your true Toulousain colors, they also have a chocolatine-flavored scoop!
16 Place Saint-Pierre, 31000 Toulouse