Albi (Picture: City of Albi)
Deeply rooted in its artistic and historic past, Albi welcomes the Tour de France for the 11th time. With a population of nearly 50,000 and 4,000 students, Albi is a thriving city which manages to combine past glory and present youth, with a truly dynamic economy. Over 600,000 tourists visit Albi every year. The town is famous for its Toulouse-Lautrec museum, with a unique collection of paintings and prints by the artist, as well as St Cecilia Cathedral, a masterpiece of Mediterranean Gothic architecture, its old neighborhoods with charming brick houses, not to mention two illustrious navigators amongst its native sons, La Pérouse and Rochegude. Albi also strives to improve life for its inhabitants : renovating the suburbs, reviving the city center. The city aims to get its Episcopal city listed as a Unesco World heritage Site. Arts, sports, education… Diversity is the hallmark of Albi the « erudite and audacious », making it even more of a city on the move, but where the living is easy.
Start of the 18th stage of the 2005 Tour de France (Picture: City of Albi)
With 160 clubs representing over 18,000 members (a third of the population), 20 teams competing on a national level (most notably in rugby union and volleyball), Albi has long proven its sporting spirit. And the town has a wealth of sports facilities, including the Stadium Municipal, a multi-sports park with a capacity of 14,000 (5,800 seats in the stands), equipped with an athletics track and artificial turf... The municipality seeks to encourage both amateur sports and professionals, with 7 local athletes and 24 teams getting substantial financial commitment. More outdoor facilities are on the agenda. In July 2008, Albi will host the French National Track and Field Championships.