Albi, capital of the Tarn, is possibly the most interesting small city in the Region of Occitainie.
Dominating the skyline is the 13th-century, red-brick Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, a Gothic landmark with large interior frescoes such as the dramatic ‘Last Judgment’ that decorate the whole of the cathedral’s western wall. Built between 1282 and 1480, the cathedral was built as a defiant assertion of papal power in a region which had only recently been brought back under the power of Rome following the period of the Cathar heresy.
Next to the cathedral is the similarly massive and fortified Bishop’s palace, part of which now houses the
magnificent Toulouse Lautrec museum in the Salon de rue des Moulins. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1864-1901, was the great post-impressionist painter of Parisian life in the late nineteenth century; he was a native of Albi, and the museum portrays the largest collection of his work.
Beside the west end of the cathedral, a pedestrian piazza takes you to a vantage point overlooking the
river Tarn below, and the old bishop’s gardens. Upstream from the cathedral can be seen the Old Bridge, a thousand years old, and still in service today. The bridge can be reached on foot by taking a short walk down the street in front of the entrance to the Toulouse Lautrec museum.
The old city of Albi, with its narrow streets and historic buildings, is clustered round the cathedral.
Of particular interest is the XIIth – XIIIth collegial church of Saint Salvi,noted for its cloisters.