Head for Sainte-Cécile Cathedral next to the Palais de la Berbie: you're in the heart of Albi's episcopal city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This architectural group all in orange brick has remained amazingly uniform. It also includes the Saint-Salvi Collegiate Church and its cloister as well as the Pont-Vieux over the Tarn (one of the oldest bridges in France).
Sainte-Cécile Cathedral is a Southern French Gothic masterpiece whose Renaissance decor and spiritual power are captivating.
DID YOU KNOW ?
Sainte-Cécile Cathedral is home to the largest collection of Italian artworks painted in France at the start of the Renaissance. Its painted decor takes up 2 hectares!
The Palais de la Berbie next to Sainte-Cécile Cathedral plays host to a world-renowned museum: the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum devoted to the master artist born in Albi in 1864.
Meet this one-of-a-kind, quirky and engaging artist in the stunning palace setting where Albi's bishops once lived. His world of cabarets, brothels, circuses and race courses comes to life in an unrivalled collection of posters, paintings, drawings and lithographs.
Explore the old town's lanes lined with half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages. Admire the Renaissance mansions, proof of the wealth brought about by trading woad, a plant whose blue pigment was extracted.
Unearth secret gardens, staircases and fountains. The old town is a lively area where it's a joy to stroll around the shops, soak up the sun on a café terrace or go into the Baltard-style market hall to try all the Tarn's tastebud-tantalising treats.
Riddles, treasure hunts and paper chases... The kids are going to love Albi. Tourist Information provides themed trails to suit everyone: ideal for getting to grips with the town's heritage.
Terracotta's shades of pink, orange, ocre are Albi's signature architectural feature in its episcopal city and old town. Sainte-Cécile Cathedral and the Palais de la Berbie are actually the world's biggest brick buildings.
Brick was introduced by the Romans and is very widespread in the Toulouse area. It gives this urban ensemble its signature stylish and warm harmony making Albi seem like Italy.
Get lost in thought in the Palais de la Berbie grounds with views of the Tarn. Take a break to unwind in Rochegude Park and its themed gardens.
Looking for an original way to explore Albi? Go for a barge trip. This flat-bottomed boat was once used to transport goods and now means you can get up close and personal with the Tarn's wild banks. See another side to the episcopal city from the river and look out for remnants of the river trade: mills, docks, lock house and more.
Drive back up the Tarn Valley to the fabulous winding Ambialet and beyond.
WORTH THE DETOUR
Explore outside Albi and visit medieval wine-making towns (the AOC Gaillac vineyard is just outside Albi): Cordes sur Ciel, Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Puycelsi, Bruniquel north of Albi; Gaillac and L'Isle-sur-Tarn to the west.