The best thing about travel is when something pops up to give you a pleasant surprise.
In the case of our road trip through southern France it was the beautiful city and cathedral of Albi. Recommended as a good stop-off on our journey, we spent three or four hours there and were hugely impressed by it.
With fine examples of beautiful old streets that we’d come to expect in France, the centrepiece was the thirteenth century cathedral, a huge, bold structure that was claimed to be the largest brick building in the world and which utterly dominated Albi’s skyline.
Rather than the ornate, opulent Rennaisance designs, the Middle Ages origins of the cathedral made for an unusual and striking simplicity. Then, a surprise: the inside had no such plainness: like the gateway addition on one side, the interior was jaw-droppingly beautiful.
I realise now that my photos haven’t done the inside justice, but there was an astonishing array of craftsmanship on display – wonderful frescoes, ornate carvings, strange and seemingly unecclesiastical designs, and a richness to the atmosphere that was quite undescribable.
It was tempting to spend much, much longer in Albi, either exploring the beautiful surroundings of the cathedral or hiding from the intense afternoon heat in the cool interior. But we had another destination to reach that evening, and so we reluctantly had to part company with Albi.
Before we left, though Niall announced he was so impressed that he had committed it to his wonder list for a future visit. High praise indeed.
Here are my other photos from Albi.