Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Albi and Henri

Leaving Saint Chinian and Langeudoc was a little sad.
I could imagine life here in the south of France. Its history, wine and food are inviting. The price of real estate is also affordable. I guess this applies in many other areas of France as well, but for us, it has a special feeling now.

Driving out of Saint Chinian we immediately started to ascend on the winding two lane road towards Saint Pons where two years ago we were thrown out of the Super Marche because it was lunch time. Who ever heard of a supermarket closing in Australia so they could have lunch!!! Its kinda nice in a way, isn't it.
We decided that it would be our early morning stop to take in the memories of our past visit. At this higher altitude, the air was a little fresher and a scarf and coat were appreciated. It was only a short stop for coffee and a quick snack before moving on.
The drive from Saint Pons saw the weather change to drizzle, then heavy rain as we made our way at the higher altitude. Still climbing the air was getting colder, and the vegetation was replaced by rocky outcrops.

As we drew further towards Albi the terrain changed again, it became greener and flatter. We decided that Castres would be our midday stop, but it was closed – why don’t we learn that the French enjoy their lunch?
The skies did however clear and the sun started to peak out and offer some warmth.

Castres is located in the Midi Pyrenees heading into the Tarn Department. Its main attraction is the Goya Museum of Spanish painting - as was our misfortune, it was closed for lunch. Still it was relaxing to sit and admire the surroundings - a formal garden within the square, the architecture with a touch of art nouveau.
We were excited with the prospect of staying a few nights in Albi.
So we wandered the streets and enjoyed a snack before returning to the car for our final stretch to Albi.

Sue's looks down the canal running through Castres.
Pont Vieux - Albi with Sainte Cecile Cathedral rising above the city.

Sainte Cecile Cathedral.

The Bishops Palace "Palais de la Berbie" is now the home of the Henri Toulouse Lautrec Musee.
One of my favourite artists - Henri Toulouse Lautrec.
In our next post, we tell you about meeting a relative still living in the Chateau.
The gum boots lady.....

The pretty village of Albi France, with its old building facades and its quaint old town, is probably best known for an ugly chapter in its history. This was the first city to provide refuge to the Cathars, and is the origin of a later name that was bestowed on the religious sect, the Albigensians.
On a lighter note, this is the birthplace of the famous artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. A visit to the city’s museum of the artist’s work is time well-spent.

Here's a little teaser before next week when we explore Albi in greater detail.


  1. It is lovely I agree but would you ever consider moving permanently to Europe?

  2. Albi is a pretty city. (I have been enjoying listening to Archie Roach. Very sad what he and his people had to go through. I remember watching "rabbit foot fence" few years ago).

  3. LLM - Moving to Europe ia a nice thought but as much as we enjoy the experiences of France & Italy, we both really appreciate being born in Australia and feel fortunate to live here in Mentone.
    To permantly live in Europe is not easy for citizens outside Europe however three months when I retire could be on the cards in a few years.

  4. Nadege - I've been listening to my Archie Roach CD in the car this week on the way to and from work. He sings for a cause. He's recently recovering from a stroke and reports are that he's improving well. I recently learn't that several years back he lived in the same northern suburb of Melbourne where I grew up.
    His wife Ruby Hunter (also a singer) passed away not that long ago. She's also on you tube.


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