Europe 2014

Albi, 6-7 June


  We set off along narrow roads along the cliffs lining the Lot River ... *
  passing St-Cirq-Lapopie, where we stayed in 2008, perched high up on the other bank of the river. *
  We arrived at the Château de Cenevieres, where it seemed that admission was by tour only, and in French. The guide asked us to wait, and came back with the owner, who very graciously gave us a personal tour in English for half an hour or more. *
  The main internal courtyard. *
  The Grand Salon ... *
  and its extraordinary ceiling. *

Past owners of the castle were very keen on alchemy. *

  View along the River Lot. *
  Off again on roads that were still narrow, but not with a rock wall on one side and a vertical drop on the other. *
  We detoured to visit the "plus belle village" of Najac, also perched above a river, in this case the Aveyron. *
  It is a perfect medieval village, much used as a film set. These are "porch houses", with sheltered shops on the ground floor. *
  Not all the houses are in perfect repair. †
  Some are totally abandoned. †
  More picturesque streets. †
  The castle dominates the village, just as intended. *
  The village fountain. *
  Medieval car, in excellent condition. *
  Lunch under umbrellas again, this time with a view of a castle. *
  Coming into Albi, it had something of the feel of an Italian town with rosy colours and curved tile roofs. The old bridge spanned the river and there was the massive cathedral like a fortress on the skyline. Many buildings are in brick, including the cathedral. It reminded us of Florence or Urbino. *
  The next day, we went for a wander around the town and found ourselves at the local covered market (again). *
  We had lunch on a square facing the cathedral and Bishop's Palace. *
  Afterwards, we went to the Bishop's Palace, which now houses the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, full of works of this fascinating artist, who died of syphilis and alcohol at age 36. No photos allowed, unfortunately. *
  From a belvedere behind the palace, there was a good view of the Bishop's formal gardens ... †
  and across the river. *
  Then just around the corner to the cathedral, a powerful statement in brick. *
  The exterior might be plain brick, but inside was full of decoration. *
  At some other stage, a decision was made to cut an opening in the biggest painting of the Last Judgment ever known, which was on the wall under the organ. So now the central Christ in Judgment is missing, but the saved and the damned are still there as a lesson for the faithful. These are the saved ... *
  and these the damned (always more interesting). *
  There was also a peaceful cloister.
  That evening, the main square was being set up for a game of chess. *
  We sat in a restaurant with a view of the square ... *
  and quietly had some aperitifs. *

From the reality of Albi, it was time to move on to the fantasy of Carcassonne


Copyright © 2014 by *Lynn Booth or †Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.