Albi Travel Guide
Albi, a town just to the northeast of Toulouse, is notably the birthplace of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, one of France's most prolific painters who created some of the world's most characteristically French works of art. Albi also has a legacy tied to the Cathars, a now-extinct religious sect whose members both sought refuge and nurtured a significant following in the town and thus, later on, came to be known as the Albigensians – think Albigensian Crusade of 1209-1229. The city, in any case, is quite pretty, with a charming old town with period building façades, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth lingering in. Besides which, the town hosts several themed and quite popular markets – one each for vegetables, poultry, domestic animals, arts and crafts, and even books – which alone make Albi worth visiting.
Albi is situated on the River Tarn in southern France, some 45 miles (73 km) northeast of Toulouse.
In Albi, the place to visit is the historic Palais de la Berbie, one of the oldest and best-preserved palaces in France, older, even, than the Palais des Papes in Avignon. Once the palace of the bishops of Albi, it is now home to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum which houses the largest collection of the Toulouse-Lautrec's works in the world – more than 1,000 works of art, among them 31 of his most famous posters. A handful of old churches, including St-Madeleine Church, the Collégiale Saint-Salvi Church, and Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile – the last a Southern Gothic masterpiece – merit a visit as well. Other than that, there's Albi's landmark, 1,000-year-old bridge, arched and 151 meters long, and the elite, 500-student high school, Lycée Lapérouse, located inside an ancient monastery.
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