Today we tour the town of Albi, famous for its Cathar Cathedral and its favorite son, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Anna is not 100% but she’s rolling with us as we walk to the metro to catch the train.
I know it’s going to be a good day, however, when in the process of buying Metro tickets, a man comes up to us and offers us a 10-ride ticket that someone lost with 7 good rides on it. Free! Saved us about $10! He wasn’t a helpful homeless, either, but a metro security worker. Who said the French were rude?
The kids sleep on the hour train ride and we arrive in Albi. Anna ‘s nausea has returned so we visit the Pharmacie to get some pepto-bismol-like help. Of course, they don’t have actual pepto-bismol, but the friendly pharmacist recommends something that should help and gives us clear directions, wishing Anna good health. Who says the French are unhelpful?
It’s the hottest day yet, almost 100degrees. We try to stay in the shade while walking and make it into the cool cathedral. This started out as a Cathar Cathedral, home to the group of Christians who had different ideas about life (such as non-materialism, vegetarianism, and personal relationships with God without priestly intercession, with baptism being the only sacrament) than the Roman Catholics. Even though they disagreed with the Catholic Church, they coexisted peacefully with their neighbors. When the Pope felt that this movement was getting out of hand, he called on the French king, who did not have control of this area but wanted it, to create a Crusades to get rid of the infidels. Within one generation, some 40,000 Cathars had been wiped out, leaving only the churches where they prayed. This must be the rude behavior everybody’s talking about – but, it was started by the Italians!
In the Palace of the Archbishop that took over, we find the defining museum of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, famous for painting can-can dancers and prostitutes. (How’s that for payback?) Only appreciated for the posters he created advertising local businesses, he died broke and broken. Thank goodness his mother saved all of his lithographs and paintings.
We had lunch in the shadow of the cathedral. The waitress was friendly and I chatted with her a bit while we were waiting for our fish and chicken. A cup of strawberries soaked in something good completed our meal.
On the way back, we stopped in the oldest cathedral in town. As Morgan was surveying the ceiling light, the man at the information desk noticed and offered him a book of close-ups of some of the ceiling art. This was something he did not have to do, just a nice thing.
The kids slept on the train back. We returned to a partially air-conditioned apartment (cooler than outside, anyway). I went out to get crackers for Anna and some salad for me. We ate what was left of the ham, cheese, and bread for dinner, happy to stay in. We spend our last night in Toulouse surveying the enormous and beautiful Place du Capitole, filled with the friendly French.