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Albi France hotels attractions Albi

Albi France French Holidays


Albi

If you like the belle époque posters of brothels and bars in Montmartre that Henri de Toulouse Lautrec produced, you will love Albi. His native town has a museum dedicated to the artist that contains over 500 of his sketches, paintings, posters and lithographs from all periods of his life.

Lautrec led a rather seamy existence in the Moulin Rouge area of Paris, carousing with cancan dancers and hookers (we presume only as inspiration for his drawings), and drinking himself into an early grave. The Musée Toulouse Lautrec is a slightly absurd building called the Palais de la Berbie, a 13th century red brick castle with parapets and walkways that afford fabulous views out into the countryside and over the river's several bridges.

Map of Albi

 

The other attraction in Albi is the incredible Gothic Cathédrale Ste Cécile, which verges on being a fortress rather than a church. It was begun in 1282 after the Cathars were crushed and the sheer weight and size of the belfry seem to reaffirm the power of those that built it over the defeated religious movement that inhabited Albi before the Albigensian Crusade. The exterior is very plain, the interest lying in the different stones used and the sheer scale, whilst the portal is a rather fancy bit of Flamboyant architecture in contrast. Inside there is richly decorated rood screen, a Flemish and rather gruesome Last Judgement with sinners being boiled in oil and eaten by monsters, and extensive 16th century Italian paintings in the vault. Oh, and the size of the nave is quite astounding, lest you forget.

Restaurants worth trying are La Tête de l'Art, 7 rue de la Piale (05 63 38 44 75) offering terroir dishes such as lou tastou, a bit like tapas, from €12 and the Moulin de Mothe on rue Lamothe (05 63 60 38 15) with similar cuisine on menus from €21 26.