Albi

Picture of albi_overview Albi is a couple hours drive further down the Tarn from Millau and the Gorge. We weren't exactly sure if we would find Albi particularly interesting or not but were looking for someplace to stop on the way to Carcassonne. It turned out we were quite impressed with Albi. This picture is looking across the river at the smaller side of town. The bridge in the forefront is the Pont Vieux (of course) which dates from the 11th century.
Picture of cobblestones Albi peaked in the 12th and 13th century by monopolizing the woad trade. Woad is a native plant which produces a small quantity of indigo dye. Medieval French towns could apparently thrive on a monopoly of just about anything (Uzes managed with licorice). Albi also gave its name to the Albigensian Crusade which is an interesting bit of history but doesn't really have a whole lot to do with Albi so we'll save that for the Cathar page.
Picture of bishops_palace Albi loves red brick. The old portion of the city is almost entirely built of red brick. Along with a nice little market and the interpretive woad trail along the river… (yes, the 'woad trail'), Albi's main tourist sights are on this square. This building is the Bishop's palace (Palais de la Berbie). It includes the formal gardens in the foreground of this first picture on this page as well. Nowadays it houses the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. This is a worthwhile detour for anyone with even a passing interest in Toulouse-Lautrec although it can be surprisingly hard to find some of the exhibits.
Picture of sainte_cecile The Cathedral of Sainte Cecile is about what you'd expect a cathedral to look like if it were built entirely out of bricks. It somehow comes off looking more fortified than the average church.
Picture of nave Inside it's much more ornate and artistic. The entire altar end of the nave was under construction while we visited and apparently the workmen were under contract to drop a metal scaffolding pole every 30 seconds and make as much noise as possible. We can report that the acoustics are excellent.
Picture of pictogram We couldn't leave this picture off. You just don't get to see pictorial guides to the basics of Catholicism every day. Just in case you felt like you should do something with that font of water, but weren't sure exactly what - here is a helpful guide.

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