In the Tarn Department in southwestern France, the city of Albi’s calling card is its architecture made from red brick. This material seems to change colour depending on the light or time of day and permeates the six quarters of Albi’s sizeable historic centre. The red-brick showpiece is the Episcopal City, a fortified cathedral complex steeped in medieval history.
This bastion of Catholic power was the base for the bloodthirsty 13th-century Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, and still looks like it’s ready for war. If your idea of the perfect city break means specialist museums, historic monuments and animated old city streets Albi is well worth looking into.
Lets explore the best things to do in Albi:
1. Albi Cathedral
This hulking cathedral was erected in the 13th-century, on the back of the Albigensian Crusade that crushed the Cathar sect.
The building was meant to convey the authority of the Catholic church and this fearsome edifice does that successfully even now.
Building material for this sort of project doesn’t occur naturally around Albi, so bricks were used instead.
If the outside is threatening, the interior is extravagant, with the largest and earliest set of Italian renaissance frescos in France in the high vaults.
The choir is stunning too, and rare because it still has its ornate filigree roodscreen, a barrier separating the clerical elite from common worshippers.