THE EPISCOPAL CITY OF ALBI (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE SINCE 2010)
Albi, a city of splendours, of history …… and a gentle way of life.
Giving colour to everything are the omnipresent red bricks of Albi. A delicate pink in the morning, bright orange in the sunsets of summer or crimson at night. The changing colour of the bricks is as lively as the history of the city.
Situated on the banks of the Tarn, the Episcopal city of Albi has been classed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2010. The Cathedral of St Cécile is a monumental and impressive sight, and is the biggest brick built cathedral in the world. Majestic and imposing it can be seen from anywhere. A major piece of architure, a must-see of the Tarn.
The episcopal city is supplemented by the huge bishop’s Berbie Palace which overlooks the river and is surrounded by many districts with houses dating from the Middle Ages. Today the Palace is home to the magnificent Toulouse Lautrec museum, a painter from Albi. The museum has the most complete permanent collection comprising paintings and the celebrated posters for the Moulin Rouge.
The episcopal city of Albi has a collection of landmarks and historic districts that have hardly changed over the centuries.
For the visitor old Alby has a wealth of private mansions, streets bordered by medieval houses with painted shutters, the collegiate church and cloister of St Salvy, the Old Bridge and the bucolic banks of the Tarn…..
Wandering down a back alley, sitting at a café or eating lunch on the riverbank are ways to appreciate the ambiance of the town.
Finally Albi is also a way of life. The covered market brings together producers from the area, cheese-makers, market gardeners, sausage and saucisson makers, wine producers … They want you to share in their know-how, their experience and are only too happy to offer succulent tastes of the local produce.
Arrival in Albi at the beginning of the afternoon. You will be welcomed at the hotel by your conference guide and leave to explore the old centre of the town and the cathedral of St Cécile, the pearl of the episcopal city.
In the morning you will visit the Tolouse Lautrec museum which is located in the fortress of the Berbie Palace, residence of the bishops of Albi. The museum houses the most important collection in the world by the artist. Directly afterwards you will take to the road to explore the medieval walled towns of the area (bastides albigeoises) the most famous of which is Cordes-sur-Ciel, voted favourite French village in 2014.
After lunch, you will be driven through the thousand year old wine growing area of Gaillac, which, as the vine planted slopes unfold resembles a semi-mediterranean landscape to the village of Rabastens.
Alongside the Tarn, on the navigable waterway where the traditional river boats (Gabarres) transported the Gaillac wine barrels to Bordeaux, Rabastens invites you to see the doors of Notre Dame du Bourg, listed as a World Heritage site by virtue of its association with the pilgim routes of St James of Compostella.
Departure for a visit to Castres, a town marked by the many changes in religion, from the Cathar heresy to Protestanism. Castres has preserved this past, rich in events evolving to a cultural identity, architecturally and economically strong.
After lunch, you will explore the scholastic Abbey of Sorèze. This ancient building will take you through 13 centuries of history and allow you to experience for yourself the life of the pupils of the 19th century, a life lived between strictness and freedom…..
Departure from the hotel and return home.
City of Castres – Musée Goya, The birthplace of pastel, the beginning of the Canal du Midi, The bastides and the vineyard of Gaillac, The massive granite site of Sidobre
Castres-Mazamet airport (50 km)
Toulouse Blagnac airport (85 km)
By train from Toulouse 1 hours
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