The Strange Phenomenon of a Charles Wells Pub in France (George & Dragon Toulouse)

When I booked my trip to Toulouse for September I wasn't really sure what to expect from the city and its beer scene since very few people I know had spent time there so I did some googling, as you do.

What I found surprised me as it was unlike any other city I've been to in that many of the pubs and bars seemed to be modelled from the British style of pub.

I'd heard previously that Charles Wells had a chain of pubs in France and once I'd done some research I was determined I needed to check it out, and when I did it surprised me.

The George and Dragon is situated on the corner of an unassuming narrow residential street, at the foot of a cross road near a couple of cafes and could well be described as an estate pub had it been in Stockport and not Toulouse.

There were a couple of tables out the front of the pub, with old chaps standing around chain smoking cigarettes, slowly drinking their dark amber coloured beer and occasionally engaging each other in conversation, nodding at all those who enter the pub as if they own the place. Had it not been for the fact that they were speaking French, they could have been anywhere in the UK.

Walking into the pub, I felt like I was in my local; the pub itself has a carpet, which is unlike Europe, it has low tables and stools with fixed seating on the back wall. The clientele was a mixture of younger people, you'd assume students as well as much older barflies.

The bar was in an awkward spot on a corner and you really had to fight to get to it but once you did, you saw it. You saw what made you realise that this was indeed an English pub - hand pumps.
Two of them. One of which was John Bull English ale and the other was the quintessentially British beer Bombardier, a stalwart of pubs like Wetherspoons and Nicholsons. The keg beers were interesting too, only being beer brewed by Wells & Youngs, which included John Bull Lager and Banana Bread Beer, a beer I loved so so much when I was younger.

I knew walking in that if there were indeed hand pumps I would absolutely need to try a cask ale in France, just to see how it was and to be honest, the Bombardier was fine. It was just fine. It didn't remind me of drinking a cask ale; it was more chilled and seemed a tad more carbonated but the taste was fine; it was like Bombardier.

For research purposes I also ordered a pint of John Bull Lager which was nice enough but a tad sweet and then before I left I had to do it. I had to have a cheeky half of the famous Banana Bread Beer that I loved so much so many years ago and honestly, if I saw it on keg again I'd order a pint. It wasn't too sweet, it was like crusty brown bread with deliciously overripe and bruised bananas and legitimately left me wanting more but sadly, I didn't make it back during the rest of my trip.

It's funny though, how you can be in another country surrounded by a language that is so unfamiliar yet you feel that you're in a place you've been a thousand times. The George and Dragon just felt like I was in my local; the way I sat listening to conversations I didn't understand (same as the Norfolk accent, really), the way I hung my hoodie on a hook; the way I comfortably left my pint sat on my table whilst I went out for a cigarette, exchanging a brief look with the chaps on the next table as if we recognise each other from yesterday and the day before. People in the pub you know are only ever going to leave their seats to either get another pint, go for a smoke or take a leak.

The George and Dragon just felt like home, in the most bizarre way possible.



  1. What a fascinating thing to learn there are British style pubs in Toulouse! The banana beer sounds like one I'd like!

    1. Aye, there are tons more which I might go into further detail on in a blog post! The banana bread beer used to be very common... usually available in most supermarkets!


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