John & Brenda's Excellent European Adventure - Part Deux travel blog

Morning Mist From Our Balcony

Sainte-Cecile Cathedral In Albi

Interior Of Sainte-Cecile Cathedral

Toulouse-Lautrec Museum (Palais de la Birbie)

Pont Vieux Over The Tarn In Albi

Dinner At The Fete In Vieux

Rob And Brenda Entertain Each Other

One More Dance Before We Leave

July 29, 2011

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to brilliant sunshine streaming through the open window right into Brenda’s face so I stumbled out of bed to close the shutter. The interruption apparently didn’t bother me as I went back to sleep until 9:00 (10:00 for my lovely bride). Relaxing like this is a great respite from the busy days of our trip, yet we’re still building precious memories.

It was indeed a fabulous day in this piece of paradise and we enjoyed our never-tiring window view as we wrapped up our laundry. Brenda completed some light house-keeping while I tried to catch up on this journal. Our day’s plan was a trip to nearby Albi to visit the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum and the Cathedral Sainte-Cécile. Albi is only 32 kms away and in no time we were parked a block away from the Cathedral.

Cathedral Sainte-Cécile may not be the most beautiful church in Europe on the outside but it is magnificent all the same. It is purported to be the largest brick structure in the world and has a massive presence when you first encounter it. Inside, the plainness of the exterior is countered with a soaring arched decorated ceiling and its naves displaying wonderful relics and art. The church was started in 1282 and is divided into two distinct parts, one of which we declined to visit (not because it cost €2 but because we were short on time).

Immediately behind the church is the “Palais de la Berbie” (Bishop’s Palace) which actually predates the church in its construction. This building houses the permanent collection of the Musée de Toulouse-Lautrec, which was our next visit. The collection is extensive, covering his early career and classical paintings, moving into his impressionistic era and finally his lithographs and posters of the entertainment world of Montmartre. We ended our day in Albi with a walk down to the Tarn River and a view of the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge), built in 1040.

On our return to Castelnau, Yvonne told us of a major kerfuffle in the village, as a large portion of an old roof collapsed just around the corner from their house. It was on a street we had walked many times and Rob told us that, just days earlier, it was crammed with Japanese tourists video taping the architecture…it was a miracle no one was killed.

Rob and Yvonne showed up at our door at 6:30 and we made the short drive to a Fête (festival) at Viuex, the next small village over. We parked in an empty farmer’s field set up for that purpose (not empty for long) and entered the Fête grounds rather early, along with the vendors and organizers. The area soon filled up and we got a table in a prime spot with a good view of the band. The food vendors were soon ready for us and we grabbed our dinners of lamb sausage and frites along with a couple of beers and bottles of local wine.

The fun little 3-piece band sang half French and half English songs and their renditions soon had the locals up dancing, from small children to old-timers. It was interesting to hear the band cover “Queen” with the singer attempting a not-to-shabby Freddy Mercury. I was the DD and we made our way home on the narrow winding country road, trying to avoid wildlife and potential drunk locals. Back home on our balcony (now devoid of laundry) we enjoyed cocktails and discovered in our rambling conversation

that Rob was an Academy Award nominee for sound mixing on “Unforgiven”, one of my favourite all-time western classics…talented guy!

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