When Narelle lived in Edinburgh, she started a French meetup group (which is still going strong!) and enjoyed it so much that when she planned to move to Toulouse she wanted to be part of a similar group here. Not finding anything that matched what she was looking for, she started a Web site. Before long, some people signed up and we had our very first meeting the week she arrived in Toulouse, in April 2005.
Our first meeting attracted six people and we met in a tea salon in the city centre. There were a few subsequent meetups at cafes on Capitole and then things stopped for a couple of months while she went to Paris to get her teaching qualifications, came back and learnt French and got married.
Around September 2005 she really got to work on organising the group and learnt all about la rentree. With a fixed monthly meetup time and venue, people started coming regularly and word spread. By December we had an average of 15 people coming to every meeting and were filling up the entire coffee shop — we had out-grown our first venue!
Over Christmas drinks at the Crowne Plaza in December 2005, we decided to move the group to a bigger venue. This became Crowne Plaza Nights.
In July 2006 a few of us started meeting up regularly at Bapz, a tea salon. By September it had become our ‘Friday thing’. For many expats, opportunities to speak French outside of the classroom are few and far between and so we called this meetup French Fridays with the aim of speaking both French and English on a weekly basis. Often after our French Friday meetings those who would still be chatting at 7pm-ish would move on to a pub or grab a bite to eat and by October 2009, it had become an official weekly night out.
In December 2006, again over Christmas drinks (hmmm!), someone suggested an extra pub outing in January to mark our first meeting for the new year. We had our first meeting at De Danu in January 2007 and had so much fun we decided to make it a regular thing — this meeting became known as Irish Pub Nights and we met there on the last Wednesday of the month until April 2009 when Irish Pub Nights became known as Last Wednesdays and we moved to a new venue, Le Sylene (60 rue de Metz) in May 2009.
In April 2009, English in Toulouse held a logo competition and in May the official English in Toulouse logo was voted in.
In January 2010 we had officially become too big a group to continue meeting at the tea salon, Bapz, on Friday afternoons and we found a new venue in March 2010. Sadly that venue went out of business a couple of weeks later and the group started meeting at a Spanish tapas bar called Le Delicatessen. From there, it gradually turned into a Friday night pub meeting which replaced Friday afternoon tea.
With the immense success of our Friday night meetings, averaging between 30 and 50 people every week, in the summer of 2011 we axed our Wednesday night pub meetings and a new event was added to our regular meetings to counter-balance the pub nights. Christened Tea Tuesdays, this new event started in June 2011. It started to gain popularity in September 2011 and continues to attract an average of 10 to 15 people coming for tea and cake every Tuesday afternoon at Le Nouveau The on rue Tolosane.
2012 has been a big year for English in Toulouse. With a strong membership (1,364 in November 2012), and a loyal bunch of fun and active members, we now have more events than ever before! French Fridays got a new home during the summer (Le Bistrologue in Saint Cyprien) and Tea Tuesdays is going very well (mostly thanks to Michael the Canadian who kept it going every week of the year when I had to work and couldn’t attend).
2012 also saw the launch of two new events: Creative writing group: an event for writers and aspiring writers, and Playtime: an event for parents and kids.
By 2014 Narelle left Toulouse, and the group kept going for a few years, self-organised by motivated members. However little by little most of us moved on to other things, special events and most of the meetings ended, replaced by more modern social tools (remember EiT was started at a time Facebook didn’t exist!) and the organisation reduced to the two regular meetings we have now in 2017.
In 2017 Yves (the Web master) decided to remove the forum and most of the information that was outdated, to create the site you see today: reference those social tools that exist today, which foreign English speakers probably would not know about.