So, I guess I should post about my adventures in another medieval southern town, Albi. Albi isn't too far from Toulouse or Carcassonne, actually. It is located in the Tarn department of the région Midi-Pyrénées. So, where should I begin?
I'll state the obvious: lots of steps. Lots and lots and lots of steps. Lots of steps means lots of tripping, and lots of tripping means several almost-face-plants. Even though I basically put myself in danger with all these stairs, I prefer to walk. Yeah, we could have easily taken the bus from the train station to centre-ville, but you miss so much by being a bus. Walking really allows you to take everything in.
So after the first "hike", my first sight was the Basilique Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d'Albi.
Here's a better photo. It was being renovated, so we didn't get the chance to go inside. This church is the center of the town, as are most churches in towns in France. It was constructed when heresy filled the town of Albi. The style is Gothic, but it is more of a Southern Gothic due to the construction with bricks.
The hike to the town was pretty tiring, and I thought it would be a good idea to rest our legs and grab a bite to eat so we had more energy for sightseeing. Aurélie took some great photos of me along one of the narrow, stone streets.
Isn't this restaurant just the cutest? We didn't eat there, though.
Although Albi is best known for its cathedral, it is also known for its impressive bridges. Here I am by one of them:
The view was breathtaking!
You can see the cathedral in the background when looking at the other bridge. The sun was in the way, so it's not the best photo:
In good old adventurous Sabine Bouchard fashion, I just HAD to walk along the river Tarn.
That walk included one heck of a descend first, though! But look at these sights! It was so worth it! I'm completely fascinated by all things "old", and these ancient ramparts were no exception. I really wished that the blocked off portion was open to the public. I'll have to come back once the safety improvements are finished.
After we walked along the river, we began the climb to the courtyard gardens. Pretty, right?
There were no benches on the way up, and did I discover how out-of-shape I am or what?! My type of physical activity involves riding my bike though the city (city as in Lille, my hometown). Aurélie was a real trooper with all of this walking. Hey, she's a dancer; she's used to being on her feet! I guess that doesn't make it any better since she wanted to sit down, too. One of her blisters was irritating her.
Oh, but all of that walking was totally worth it because the gardens were amazing!
How can you not fall in love with the gardens or the view? What's not to love? I mean, this is absolutely breathtaking. It's incredible to think how something this old has really withstood the test of time. I couldn't believe it. Again, I really felt like I went back in time.
We had to take the TER bus back to Bénédicte's house in Toulouse. I was completely wiped out; I fell asleep as soon as the bus started rolling. From what I heard, I missed a pretty bumpy ride. Hey, I'm accustomed to uncomfortable car trips. I have been squished in the backseat in between my brother and sister in Renault Megane while our parents were in the front seats hoping we wouldn't kill each other. Sibling arguments almost caused a few accidents along the A25 autoroute, but that's what you get for stuffing your three, almost-adult children in the backseat of a small car. (Aurélie is an only child, so she obviously doesn't understand the suffering that happens on family car trips; she just laughs. My American friend Lilly laughs, too, since she's an only child as well. She says that she usually lies down in the backseats and naps. Lucky.)
So, I hope you enjoyed the photos of my trip to Albi! My country has so much to offer, and that's what I love. I love touring these almost-unknown small towns. They really are hidden gems. The cities are nice, but every once in awhile, I like to step off the beaten path and explore the little places.
What do you think? What are some of your favorite "hidden gem" towns?