Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Two-Hour Drive to Albi

 Continuing to make the most of my days off work, we traveled to Albi, France on Monday.

I didn't know much about it, but Earl swears it was on our original list of possible cities to live in. It seems a bit north to have made the list, and we didn't actually visit it, so if it did make the list, it sank to the bottom to be forgotten by me. 

Instead, we focused on the Aude and the Gard regions of Occitanie, closer to the Mediterranean. And we ended up living in the Aude, so named for the river that runs through our town. Albi is in Occitanie, but north of Toulouse and in the Tarn region, so named for the river that runs through it. 

These days, we just itch for any place to provide some variety during the time of Covid. Our friends Sue and Steve drove because they were taking along their adorable puppy Elwing.

I read from a tourism site as we drove (yes, I'm that obnoxious person in the car). Albi, the Albigensian Crusade was named for the town, has the largest brick cathedral in the world. And we were struck by all the brick as we pulled into town, searching for the best place to park and explore. 

View of the brick Cathedral
As soon as we entered the square, of course, we were impressed by the brick cathedral, St. Cecilia built from 1282-1480. The men were quick to point out where the color of the bricks changed as the cathedral was constructed. I pointed out the plainness of the brick compared to the gothic entryway. Lots of gingerbread or bric a brac or gewgaws. Whatever you want to call it.
A close-up of the stone entryway with its climbing details. 

You can see the clash between the brick and the stone entryway. 

The city is also famous for its timbered buildings. So many old houses leaning precariously but holding onto the timbers from hundreds of years ago. 
Timbered buildings and a brick arcade

Our first stop, of course, was for take out coffee. Something we only get in Quillan on market day. Then we wandered the city. There's a section with some expensive shopping. 

Sue and Steve posing with the Albi sign, the cathedral behind them

We found some quaint squares where people live in houses getting close to 1000 years old. 

Steven insists the tiny house at the side was the smallest ever. I say it probably connected to a bigger part of a house. He pointed out it has its own house number. 

The morning was chilly, but the sun came out in the afternoon
We had a choice of several places for lunch. We were debating crepes or Chinese and in the end chose Chinese. They're even giving out bamboo utensils at French restaurants these days. Something that would have been unheard of before. 
Chinese noodles to go. We're always in search of take out food. 

I had egg noodles, chicken, broccoli and mushrooms with teriyaki sauce. If you haven't eaten out for five months, you can understand how important these meals are. We found a bench in a square overlooking a fountain and enjoyed the food. Earl and I shared an Orangina. The sun had come out. 

We thought we would head to the car, but I had checked the doors of the cathedral and it was supposed to be open from 2-5 p.m. (that's 14h to 17h). I thought we'd just have a peek inside. Living in France, you sometimes get a bit blasé about churches, seen one, seem 'em all, but, WOW. 

The cathedral was amazing on the inside. 
3 D painting, or maybe trompe l'oeil, meant to fool the eye

Just took my breath away
So, if you get a chance to see the inside of St. Cecilia Cathedrale in Albi, do it. And to think, we nearly left without looking inside. It's also one of the largest painted cathedrals in the world. 

We walked back to the car, glad for our day of exploring  in Albi. 
Even the bridges are brick

Hope you are having adventures where you live too. 


sillygirl said...

I think they are called adornments - but you already knew that. What a cathedral!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I will never think, Seen one cathedral, seen them all. That one is magnificent.

Just to think that some of the houses are approaching 1,000 years old. Wow.

Mary said...

Albi and it's cathedral are favorites of mine. So glad you decided to go inside.

Noreen said...

Thank you once again for sharing another adventure in France. That cathedral is absolutely spectacular-looking! I can't even imagine what it was like in person.

Kiwi said...

Amazing artwork inside that cathedral. Quite impressive, and looks like it was recently restored. Who are all the naked people on each side of that tall archway/altar? The saved and the damned?

Paulita said...

Silly-girl, Yes, so glad we went in. Thanks for commenting.
Deb, History is always amazing, isn't it? I hope I don't get laissez-faire about cathedrals.
Mary, Yes, I can see why you like it.
Noreen, You should come see it. We can hike and visit cathedrals.
Kiwi, I imagine since the painting is called "The Last Judgment." Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you get a chance to visit.

Lisbeth said...

What a cathedral! So beautiful. Happy to hear you can enjoy trips in the vicinity. We always travelled a lot, but now there are restrictions everywhere. I am with my husband in Innsbruck, Austria and we planned to go back to Sweden. However, the Tirol region is on the red list for Germany, and it seems it is not even possible to transfer with a negative covid test. We are awaiting changes and hope they come soon.
We do excursions here to, mostly for walking in the mountains, which is not bad either.
Take care, stay safe and I think we all wait for a vaccination.

sillygirl said...

There was a cathedral in Portugal we visited - had been "decorated" and then monks took over and removed it all - and the simplicity of the lines was stunning! It really sticks out in my mind - it needed no "adornments". And then there is Saint Peter's in London that was supposed to remain without anything added BUT somehow a statue was moved in. To my mind it shouldn't be there - spoils the whole simplicity of the place. There is another cathedral in Portugal where one man in the family - the black sheep of course - did one room open to the sky and it is marvelous. Well worth visiting each place and withholding judgement until you see inside.

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