People walk on the banks of the Tarn River in Albi, France, with the red-brick town buildings in the background
Photo by Gwen Fran  –  Link

Albi

France

Anyone who's ever been to the provincial town of Albi in southern France will tell you that it's like a dream come true. Half-timbered houses in the medieval town centre sit alongside the iconic 13th-century Cathedrale Sainte-Cécile, an imposing fortress carved from handmade red brick. It's this distinctive rose-tinted brick that has inspired the town's nickname, "la ville rouge".

One of the main attractions here is the picturesque Pont Vieux (Old Bridge), which is still in use after nearly 1,000 years, yet another visual reminder of Albi's rich history. Just down the road, the Cathedral presents an austere exterior, but when you step inside it's a whole different story. And the majestic Palais de la Berbie on Place Saint Cecile is home to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, featuring artwork by the famous French painter who was born here in Albi. If you're doing a road trip around France or simply planning a day trip from Montpellier or Toulouse, consider spending some time in this lovely riverside town.

Albi was first settled thousands of years ago during the Bronze Age, but the architecture you see today has its origins mainly in the middle ages. Have a wander through the winding pedestrian streets of Old Town and you'll feel like you're stepping back in time.