department: tarn (81)
region: OCCITANIE [midi-PyrÉnÉes]

Albi is a delightful medieval city located about 80km (50 miles) north-east of Toulouse and located on the banks of the Tarn River. This unpretentious city is a superb and agreeable place to spend a few days, using it as a base to explore the surrounding countryside.

Albi was built around the original cathedral and this historic heart of the city covers 63 hectares. Red brick is the main feature of most of the buildings. Along with Toulouse and Montauban, Albi is one of the main cities built in Languedoc-style red brick.

You can't miss the Sainte Cécile cathedral, built between the 13th and 15th centuries, and if you stop for coffee at one of the nearby street cafés, it's difficult not to start counting bricks. The cathedral was built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy, and was embellished over the centuries. Older than the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops' Palace, now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France.

The Old Bridge (Pont Vieux) is still in use after almost a millennium. Originally built in stone, in 1035, then clad with brick, it rests on eight arches and is 151m long. In the 14th century, it was fortified and reinforced with a drawbridge, and houses were built on the piers.

The city is the home of the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, containing more than 1,000 works, including the artist's famous posters. This body of work forms the largest public collection in the world devoted to Toulouse-Lautrec.


Palais de la Berbie, Place Sainte-Cécile 81000 Albi
Tel: 05 63 36 36 00

read more about albi in 'aspects de la via franÇaise'

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