Tarn map, The Albiegeois
This is the heart of the Tarn region. In the towns and the surrounding Administrative Centre (“Prefecture”) of the Tarn department you will find Albi. To the east of the Aquitaine Basin, the Albigeois is served by many rivers and it is this water, with the presence of pebbles and food, which led early man to settle on the banks of the Tarn river and colonise this attractive natural space. Explore the heart of the Tarn, where heritage, leisure activities, and a good atmosphere mix perfectly.
Located in the central-northern part of the department, Albi is the most populated and largest town of the department. It is the main administrative centre (“Prefecture”) of the Tarn, and a dynamic episcopal city. The buildings made from red-pink bricks are unusual. There are attractive monuments to see and a relaxed lifestyle.
Located in the heart of the Occitanie region, Albi is only 45 minutes from Toulouse, approximately 3 hours by car from the Pyrenees and less than 2 hours from the Mediterranean Sea ; it is a pleasant place to live ! The town is also ideally located for the starting point of your holiday in the Tarn. It is a very practical location for exploring the surrounding area.
Albi has more than a million and half visitors each year. There is plenty of accommodation available. Albi has a wide range of accommodation - from hotels to charming Bed & Breakfasts. Between cultural and architectural heritage, sports, leisure activities and the many events and festivals available during the high season, Albi is a destination for all the family
What to see in Albi, for brick and heritage lovers :
It is impossible to miss Sainte-Cécile's Cathedral, with its glowing dungeon-belltower ; this is the town's symbol. It is built in the Gothic style, is richly ornamented with decorative paintings and has an enormous organ, the largest classic organ in France ! Today it remains a strong spiritual place. Its construction took two centuries. It is one of the most visited cathedrals in France.
The episcopal city is located on the left bank of the Tarn. The cathedral and four of the town quarters are located here. There is much architecture to admire. Since 2010 it has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and also includes the Palais de la Berbie which houses a museum with the biggest collection of art by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Saint-Salvi Church Collegiate, with its 12th century cloisters, is also listed as a Unesco World Heritage site along with the Pont Vieux, built from bricks and dating from the 11th century, and also the Tarn river banks (which provide lovely walks).
Those who love interesting architecture will enjoy Albi, as many mansions, built during the great pastel trading period (pastel was a plant which was pulverised to produce a blue dye in the middle ages.) and up until the 18th century, can be seen : the Hôtel de Gorsse (Place Henris Gorsse) has a square central structure between two wings ; the hôtel Reynes is listed as a historic monument and now belongs to the Conseil Général of the Tarn ; the hôtel de Rivières, on rue Saint-Clair has a superb gate ; the Hôtel de Martin in the rue de l'Hôtel de Ville, houses the town hall. There are also many others !
Walk round old Albi to see beautiful half-timbered houses in brick and wood.
Cross the old bridge, to get to the right bank of the Tarn River and see the ancient Albigeois mills, which houses the Laboratoire Artistique International du Tarn (LAIT).
For museums, do not miss the Museum Lapérousse, and stimulate your love for exploring ! How did we see the world at the time of Jean-François de Galaup (French Naval officer and explorer, 1741-1788) ? Find out here.
The best tips and plans of the Guide of Tarn Aveyron in Albi :
This is a small town directly joined to Albi, which is part of the same community. Le Sequestre houses the Circuit d'Albi (motorsport race track), you can do laps, learn how to navigate and attend competitions. There is also an airfield, where you can have your first flight or do a parachute jump. The Parc des Expositions is a flexible place which houses very regular conferences and other events ; check the itinerary for the events taking place during your stay. For beautiful views, go to the Sentier des Crêtes, an easy walk which takes 2 hours.
A few kilometres from Albi is Castelnau-de-Lévis. See the remains of the 13th century castle though only one of its towers remains. From the castle, enjoy a beautiful view over the Tarn valley and Albi just below. Also explore Sainte-Cécile du Carla Church which is close to the medieval village. Walk in the beautiful arboretum.
In Saint-Juéry, 8km from Albi, you can see the site of the Saut du Sabo and its unruly natural waterfall which is 18 metres (3.28 feet) high. Nearby is the Saut du Tarn Museum, which tells the story of the ironworks established here in 1824. The metal was forged in a mixture of noise and dust plus the characteristic smell of this type of industry. The museum is in a former hydroelectric plant. Through films, models and period documents, relive the journey of this industrial adventure, unique to this place.
In Saint-Juéry, bathe and relax at the Avalats Nautical Base, there is canoeing and swimming, which is supervised during the summer.
About fifteen kilometres to the west of Albi you will find Lagrave. It is a quiet commune in the heart of the Gaillac wine vineyards. You can stay here as a starting point for your tours round the Tarn. There are hiking paths, several restaurants and gites, and some small green areas nearby on the banks of the Tarn river. For archaeology lovers, visit a site of great interest : Sainte-Sigolène, where a monastery for women was established during the 7th century. For more information, check the archaeological work on Troclar's website.
Half way between Albi and Castres, Réalmont is a picturesque bastide full of charm. Look for beautiful half-timbered houses, a beautiful Place des Arcades, where the market takes place on Wednesdays. The bastide was created to establish the influence of the Catholic church, in a land where Cathar 'heresy' was prevalent. Visit Notre-Dame du Taur, the church in the town, walk towards the "Blima", the small stream providing water to the old washhouse. For leisure activities, go to Bancalié Lake to enjoy pedal boating, canoeing and fishing.
This 13th century bastide is located between Toulouse and Albi, in the heart of the Gaillacois vineyards. Explore the Church of Notre-Dame de la Jonquière, the very large square of the Place des Arcades in the centre of the village and Gines Castle. Also visit the Raymond Lafage Museum and the chocolate museum. Some winemaking chateaux open their doors around the town for local wine tasting.