Monday, April 27, 2015

Albi, France: Many Tons of Brick

We sailed into the city of Albi, anticipating rain based on the forecast from a smartphone app and by the cinnabon-shaped low off the coast of Portugal.  We made reservations at a little hotel smack dab in the middle of old town, and paid an extra 2€ to store our bikes in a deep dark stone garage.  We had two nights and a day of mild weather and not a hint of rain.  We walked about and took pictures of the massive brick Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile.  We took in the Toulouse-Latrec museum (Albi was his birthplace), housed in the Berbie Palace which was as interesting as the art within.  And ate a lot of good food.

We planned to leave this morning, after the rain that fell most of the night stopped.  We got up and dressed in our bike clothes, packed our panniers, and waited.  Check-out time was 11 am, and as bell tower of the cathedral rang down the quarter hours the rain continued to fall.  With the alternative of hunkering down under some canopy in the cold with the chance of cycling to some campground nearby, we opted for one more night in the hotel.  And as I write this, evening has arrived and the rain has stopped and the clouds are lifting.  Tomorrow, onward!

Here are a few photos from our rambles about the old town -- enjoy!
Three bridges cross the Tarn into the old city center.  In this view the bridge in the foreground is the Le Pont-vieux, built in 1040.  The other bridge and the one from which the photo were taken were constructed in the mid-19th century.

The cathedral is built almost completely of brick, and claims to be the largest brick cathedral in the world.  The doorway is all spiny Gothic and weirdly mismatched with the rest of the building.
Sunday was the Albi Marathon, running through the cobblestone streets of the old town.

A bit of restoration is ongoing on the south side.

Impressive from all sides.

The cathedral interior and France's largest pipe organ from the 18th century.
Can you say Gothic?

Bright frescoes painted by Italian artists covered every inch of surface.
Gargoyles, ready to spit out rainwater...we were waiting, too.

Venturing down narrow side streets has its rewards.

Gardens at the Berbie Palace.

By summer I would guess the leaves of the vine trellis would completely cover the walkways.

Can you find the sagging support beams?  We didn't linger under any of these overhangs.

Axe marks on timber beams.

Le Pont-vieux from the other side.
The main bridge into town, built in the mid-19th century.
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Joe Blommer said...

Albi & the brick cathedral are just as I remember from 1979 (a short time by European civilization standards).

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