France From The Inside

France From The Inside: Visit Southwest France - Albi

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Albi, in southwest France, is most known for its red brick buildings, hot sunshine, Cathedral and for being the birthplace of both Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and Jean-François de Galaup Lapérouse. It’s a city loved for its warm people and welcoming attitude, with history dating from the 1300’s and festivals and exhibitions of today. The influx of people discovering this area is on the rise but the picturesque streets of the “Old City” are fiercely protected.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Born to a noble family in Albi in 1864, Henri took to drawing and painting at an early age and moved to Paris as a young man. There he frequented the nightlife of the cabarets and created some of his most popular work. The collection at Albi’s Toulouse Lautrec Museum is the largest in the world, spanning his childhood drawings to the once-shocking posters of his older years.

La Cathédrale Saint-Cécile

There aren’t many churches in France that compare to the Saint-Cécile Cathedral. It took almost 100 years to build, starting in 1282. Italian painters finished the brightly colored roof in 3 years, what is now the earliest Renaissance painting in France. Painted between 1474 and 1484, The Last Judgement still retains the original paint and is one of the largest pictorial works at the end of the medieval ages. The surrounding statues, each meticulously carved, have kept their original colors. Looking closely, one can see the intricate detail of each piece of hair, knuckle and style of shoe.

Don’t forget to cross the Tarn River to see the Musée Lapérouse, dedicated to the French explorer who began his extraordinary adventures at the age of 15.

Where to Stay

The Hôtel Saint Clair is located right in the heart of the “Old Town”. Within a few minutes walking distance to all major sites, this is a pleasant accommodation with wireless internet, simple rooms and a quaint atmosphere.

Good Deals

Albi Pass is an inexpensive way to see the city. It gives you access to all of the museums and discounts on guided tours, sports events and festivals. Also worthwhile is the Bon Sejour à Albi, a card that offers accommodation and museum entries.

Where to Eat

A new addition to the city, Stephane Laurens offers original cuisine. The menu is changed monthly to keep dishes fresh and the atmosphere gives a zen-like experience. If you’re looking for a regional meal, Le Lautrec has a wonderful foie gras dish. The restaurant is celebrated in the neighborhood for its impeccable cuisine and fine wines. Le Clos Sainte Cécile is another outstanding establishment, with delicious dining choices and a wonderful wine list.

Discover the Area

Cordes-sur-Ciel looks down on the villages below, forming a picture perfect setting for sunny weather. Dating back to the 13th century, visitors can now see the remaining ramparts that formed the strong protection built around the lovely town.

Castres was one of the stops along the Saint Jacques of Composella pilgrimage route. Today the city is better known for its old houses along the river Agout and the Spanish Goya Museum.

Puycelsi towers above the Vère Valley, being protected with a 1200-foot wall. Make sure to stop by L’Ancienne Auberge, a pleasant hotel and restaurant at the Place de l’Eglise.
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Travel and Culture

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