Albi

Opening to the world

Albi is one of France's most emblematic tourist towns thanks to the listing of the Episcopal City as a World Heritage Site and to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, inaugurated in April, 2012 after 11 years of works.

The opening of the Cordeliers venue in 2014 is another step towards international recognition. The project, conceived by architect Dominique Perrault, comprises two concert halls, eight cinema theatres, a panoramic restaurant and is part of a global scheme by the Albi municipality to favour culture, heritage, university, research and innovation. In the same time, the city of Albi and the local professionals of tourism are launching a new campaign for business tourism: “Albi, congress and business destination”.

The Cordeliers Grand Theatre, with its modern architecture, will be dedicated to this new approach and become another key element of Albi's tourism offer.

Albi has already opened globally thanks to cooperations with Benin historical capital Abomey, whose royal palaces are also World Heritage sites. Japan has also become a major partner tha ks to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum while links have been established with the Chinese sicty of Lijiang.

Web sites

entrance to the Toulouse Lautrec museum - ©Vincent RufTourists in Toulouse Lautrec museum - © Ville d’AlbiLes Cordeliers projects - ©DPA
11 previous stages
Population: 51,200
Prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: pot au feu à l'albigeoise (stew), melsat (white pudding), repountsous (plant), croustade, gimblette d'Albi (pastry). Gaillac wines.
Economy: glassware, hats, pharmacy, aeronautics.
Sport: SC Albigeois (rugby). Albi Rugby League. USSP Albi Volley-ball.  US Albi (football). Décanation (decathlon).  
Celebrities: Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), La Pérouse (explorer), Pierre Benoît (writer).  
Culture: Albi carnival (February). Festival des Oeillades (December). Winter Rock Festival. Festival Pause Guitare, Acthéa (May)
Labels: UNESCO World Heritage. Most sporting city in France 2012, ville fleurie (4)

Timeline

  • 4th century BC

    The Celtic people of Ruthenes occupy a territory equivalent to the current towns of Rodez and Albi.
  • 405

    First Albi bishop named Diogenes and first mention of Albi.
  • 1145

    Start of the Cathar heresy.
  • 1209

    Start of the crusade against the “Albigeois”. Albi passes to the Catholic camp after the fall of Carcassonne.
  • 1282

    Start of the construction of St Cecile cathedral.
  • 14th century

    The town is divided in six quarters or “gaches”.
  • Renaissance

    The trend for pastel makes Albi’s fortune.
  • 1572

    Albi stages its own St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. The town becomes a member of the Holy League.
  • 1797

    Albi takes over from Castres as the prefecture of Tarn.
  • 1896

    Creation of the Albi glass factory.
  • 1992

    Creation of Ecole des Mines of Albi-Carmaux.
  • 2010

    Albi Episcopal city becomes a World Heritage site.
Ste cecile cathedral in Albi- © Ville d’AlbiThe population is dirven away from Carcassonne in 1209 after the crusade led by de Simon de Montfort. – Domaine public des Etats-Unis
11 previous stages
Population: 51,200
Prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: pot au feu à l'albigeoise (stew), melsat (white pudding), repountsous (plant), croustade, gimblette d'Albi (pastry). Gaillac wines.
Economy: glassware, hats, pharmacy, aeronautics.
Sport: SC Albigeois (rugby). Albi Rugby League. USSP Albi Volley-ball.  US Albi (football). Décanation (decathlon).  
Celebrities: Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), La Pérouse (explorer), Pierre Benoît (writer).  
Culture: Albi carnival (February). Festival des Oeillades (December). Winter Rock Festival. Festival Pause Guitare, Acthéa (May)
Labels: UNESCO World Heritage. Most sporting city in France 2012, ville fleurie (4)

Web sites

Albi and cycling

Voted the most sporting city in France in 2012 by L'Equipe, Albi confirms the claim by hosting the Tour de France for the 12th time.  The cathedral, a World Heritage site, was the finish of a stage of the Route du Sud in  2012, won by local rider Stpehane Poulhies. Albi is also the hometown of a great lover of the sport, Toulouse-Lautrec, who painted several posters for bicycle brands in his time. Some of the biggest names in the history of the sport were crowned in Albi, like the greatest of all, Eddy Merckx, who won a time trial in 1971. In 2007, another TT saw the victory of Cadel Evans. Another Tour winner, Roger Pingeon, won a stage from Font-Romeu in 1968.

Stéphane Poulhiès, 2013 – © Presse SportsEddy Merckx, stage Albi-Albi in Tour de France 1971 – © Presse Sports
11 previous stages
Population: 51,200
Prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: pot au feu à l'albigeoise (stew), melsat (white pudding), repountsous (plant), croustade, gimblette d'Albi (pastry). Gaillac wines.
Economy: glassware, hats, pharmacy, aeronautics.
Sport: SC Albigeois (rugby). Albi Rugby League. USSP Albi Volley-ball.  US Albi (football). Décanation (decathlon).  
Celebrities: Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), La Pérouse (explorer), Pierre Benoît (writer).  
Culture: Albi carnival (February). Festival des Oeillades (December). Winter Rock Festival. Festival Pause Guitare, Acthéa (May)
Labels: UNESCO World Heritage. Most sporting city in France 2012, ville fleurie (4)

Web sites

Places to see

Sainte-Cecile cathedral

The cathedral of Albi, built from 1282, is the largest cathedral made of brick in the world. It is 113 metres long and 35 metres wide. Alone of its kind, it is monumental thanks to a style typical of south-western France known as southern gothic. Set on one of the hills of the city, it bears witness to the strength of the Catholic faith after the Cathar heresy. Its originality is reinforce by the interior decoration, a true museum of Christian art. It is the only cathedral in Europe whose walls and vaults are entirely painted on a surface of about 18,500 m2. Especially remarkable are:
- the oldest painting of Judgment Day dating from the Middle-Ages and covering 200 m2.
- the rood screen decorated with more than 270 chiselled by Burgundy masters.
- the vault in Italian Renaissance style built between 1509 and 1512.
- the organ built by Christophe Moucherel and dating from the 18th century.

Berbie palace and Toulouse-Lautrec museum

The former Episcopal Palace, built in the 13th century, is the unexpected showcase of Alibi painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The imposing fortress vowed to demonstrate the temporal and spiritual power of the bishops who built it. The thick walls confirm its defensive role. In the course of time, several transformations turned it into a comfortable palace. The defensive aspect is reinforce by the fortifications and the Mage Tower, an enormous keep, 50 metres high, flanked by four corner towers. The fortifications were destroyed in the 17th century while galleries, lounges, halls, a library and terraces were built to make the place a little cosier. A garden also replaced the old Place-d'Armes.
The Toulouse-Lautrec museum displays more than 1,000 works. Early works, major portraits, brothel paintings, posters and lithographs form an exceptional collection.  

Saint-Salvi collegial and cloister

The St Salvi collegial church, named after the first bishop of Albi between 474 and 584, was refurbished through the years and is a patchwork of several styles combining Romanesque, gothic, stone and bricks. It is one of the largest churches in the region while the houses surrounding it were the lodgings of the canons. Turned into a barn during the Revolution, it became a church again in the 19th century. The cloister, built in 1270 by Vidal Malvezi, was also crippled during the Revolution but still shelters a discreet and peaceful garden in the heart of the old town.

Castelviel and Ste Cécile cathedral – ©Ville d’Albitourists in front of the Place of la Berbie and the Toulouse Lautrec museum- ©Ville d’AlbiGarden in the Saint Salvi collegial cloister - ©Ville d’AlbiEpiscopal city overall view - Pierre Behar et Christophe Bouthé Balloïde photosbourg Saint Salvi - ©Ville d’Albi
11 previous stages
Population: 51,200
Prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: pot au feu à l'albigeoise (stew), melsat (white pudding), repountsous (plant), croustade, gimblette d'Albi (pastry). Gaillac wines.
Economy: glassware, hats, pharmacy, aeronautics.
Sport: SC Albigeois (rugby). Albi Rugby League. USSP Albi Volley-ball.  US Albi (football). Décanation (decathlon).  
Celebrities: Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), La Pérouse (explorer), Pierre Benoît (writer).  
Culture: Albi carnival (February). Festival des Oeillades (December). Winter Rock Festival. Festival Pause Guitare, Acthéa (May)
Labels: UNESCO World Heritage. Most sporting city in France 2012, ville fleurie (4)

Web sites

Cathars and albigenses

The words Cathars and Albigenses (Albi inhabitants) are often considered synonymous. Perhaps because of the cool reaction to the visit in 1145 of St Bernard, who had come to Albi to preach against the heresy in the region. Catharism appeared shortly after other dualist movements from central Europe like the Waldensians or the Bogomils, who came from Bulgaria via Italy and seem to have directly inspired the Cathars. For the Cathars the Holy Spirit and Satan share the possession of mankind. The ones avoiding the rule of Satan are considered Perfects, a status sanctioned by a sacrament, the Consolamentum. The rest reincarnate until they find the way to perfection. Catharism settled in Languedoc in a highly developed and tolerant society. The locals admired the ascetic life of the Perfects a opposed to the vices of the clergy and readily accepted these men they called “the Good men”. The election of Innocent III as the new Pope changed things radically as he launched a merciless fight against the Cathars. In 1208, the papal legate Pierre of Castelnau was murdered and strong suspicions pointed to the Count of Toulouse, who was excommunicated. The campaign against the Cathars started in Beziers, where the new legate of the Pope, Arnaud-Amaury pronounced the famous sentence: “Kill them all, the Lord will recognise his own.”

The Albigensian crusade was led by Simon de Montfort, who imposed a ruthless repression against the heretics. Plundering, rapes and executions were the rule to restore the glory of God.  Four hundred Catahrs were burnt in Lavaur, Toulouse and Montsegur. Pyres are erected in the whole of the region. Albi, whose name was directly linked to the heresy was however one of the first towns to surrender to the Catholic rule in 1209 and the construction of the Episcopal palace and the Ste Cecile cathedral were the symbols of this submission.

Dispute between Saint Dominique and the Albigensians, when books were thrown into fire. - Painting by Pedro Berruguete.the cross of Languedoc, symbol of the Cathar rallyingPalace of la Berbie - © Ville d’AlbiGardens of Place of la Berbie - © Ville d’Albi
11 previous stages
Population: 51,200
Prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: pot au feu à l'albigeoise (stew), melsat (white pudding), repountsous (plant), croustade, gimblette d'Albi (pastry). Gaillac wines.
Economy: glassware, hats, pharmacy, aeronautics.
Sport: SC Albigeois (rugby). Albi Rugby League. USSP Albi Volley-ball.  US Albi (football). Décanation (decathlon).  
Celebrities: Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), La Pérouse (explorer), Pierre Benoît (writer).  
Culture: Albi carnival (February). Festival des Oeillades (December). Winter Rock Festival. Festival Pause Guitare, Acthéa (May)
Labels: UNESCO World Heritage. Most sporting city in France 2012, ville fleurie (4)

Web sites

video05/07/2013 

The towns 2013 : visit Albi

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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