Our Blog - Albi 2017
One of the reasons that we moved to Europe was that there are so many towns that have long histories, that are within close proximity to almost anywhere that you live in Europe. We've been living in France now for about 5 weeks and we took our first day-trip, an out-and-back in a single day to Albi, which is about 85 km (just under 53 miles) northeast of Toulouse. Today, there are just under 50,000 people living there. There has been some concern recently about the future of the town since there is almost nothing left there other than tourism.
Albi dates back to the Bronze Age. Then about 50 BC, the Gauls were conquered by the Romans and created a modest Roman settlement. It continued until 1040 when Albi constructed the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge), which connected Albi to additional travelers and traders. They charged tolls for anyone going over the bridge, and this added to the increased wealth. In the 13th century, there were crusades that went through the region that pitted Catholics against Cathars, who had developed their own version Christianity and were considered dangerous to the church. After the Albigensian Crusade (also called the Cathar Crusade), two major works were completed: The Palais de la Berbie (Bishops Palace) and the Cathedral de Sainte-Cecile. With increased trade, specifically in pastel (the blue dye), many fine houses were built within the city, some of which you can still see. The majority of the buildings are of red brick, although there are some that still have some of the older Roman stone still visible.
We took an SNCF train, which left Toulouse a bit after 9am .. this was our train. There are 2 train stations in Albi and we arrived at one (Albi Ville) and came back home through the other (Albi Madeline).
After walking from the train station to town, and getting our Albi City Pass at the tourism office, we were off. By the way, if you are heading to Albi and plan to see both the Toulouse-Lautrec museum and the Cathedral (which you really should do since if not, I would question why you are heading to Albi), you should pick up a City Pass. Even if you go to just those 2, you have saved money. But you can also get free chocolate (we got 3 pieces per person!) at a Michel Belin store in Place du Vigan, get discounts on other sites, and savings at a couple of stores.
We ended up taking quite a few pictures and so we decided to break them into 5 pages. This allows the pages to load faster, as well as allowing you to either skip one (if you don't care about one of them) or go back to something later to look at things again without having to scroll through the other 100 pictures :-)