Sunday, April 29, 2018

Life in Bellegarde and Albi

After our marathon of driving to little villages we've been using our last two days here to experience life in and around Albi. On Thursday evening we went out to dinner with our home-stay hosts at a lovely restaurant, Cascabar, that serves beautiful fresh food. We had the three-course meal that included two appetizers, a main course, and two desserts. Fortunately the portions were small enough that we could enjoy everything. Here's my appetizer. And here are our French friends, Julien and Adeline.

Albi is a small city of about 50,000 and it has a wonderful Medieval centre that is full of restaurants and stores and narrow alleys with tall brick buildings. Apparently some of these buildings are home to wealthy people who have created parking for cars and swimming pools in the inner courtyard areas. But there are also many smaller apartments and homes. It's not really a tourist city despite its beauty, but a place where lots of people live and work. It has a large hospital is right down along the river beside the cathedral and there is a university affiliated with the one in Toulouse.
This is big covered market right in the old area. It appears to be old but I think it is a new building designed to fit right into place. The market is open every morning with longer hours on Saturdays.

On Saturday we headed down there to find an entirely different scene. An outdoor market hs been set up all around the covered market and scores of people were out shopping.

But by 12:15 all the action was over. Vendors were packing up and heading off to the bar for a celebratory drink

Down by the river there are three brick bridges across the Tarn. This is the new bridge, built in the 1940s. There's also the old bridge from 1040 that is still in use.

This shows the old bridge in front of the new one. We walked across the old bridge yesterday to explore the neighbourhood across the river. La Madeleine is an 18th C suburb. Our plan was to return on the third bridge, previously a rail bridge that is now being transformed to a pedestrian and cycle bridge. Our plans were foiled though as the transformation isn't yet complete.

But our walk back allowed the discovery of a sweet little museum and lunch spot. We saw the sign for the Museum of Miniatures and headed over to find an nice little lunch menu.  Inside we asked the woman about lunch and she told us about two dishes that were being served. She also told us that all of the miniatures had been made by her mother remembering scenes from her childhood.  We headed upstairs to the little dining room in the attic and ordered lunch. It was delicious.

Here's Harry in the oh-so-French dining area sitting in front of one of the miniature rooms. They're kind of like an upscale dollhouse. And the museum was full of dozens of them. The schoolroom, the butcher shop, the maid's room, the dance studio, the kitchen, the  patisserie...on and on. It was fascinating.

Not to mention the lunch, with very good wine and at an excellent price. the couple who run this place must be in their late 70s and they toiled to bring the food upstairs to the attic room. We enjoyed talking to them about their life which included time in India as well as France.

Here's a view of the cathedral from the other side of the River Tarn. The mauve blossoms from behind the wall have been intriguing us since we arrived in Toulouse. Here's a close-up of the flowers and leaves. I am thinking that that it may be what is called a French Lilac.

But I may be wrong. Correct me if you can.  What ever the name, they are very beautiful and a highlight of our time in this part of the Occitaine.

We've really enjoyed our time in Albi, but I think the high point may be last night when we went with our homestay hosts to a local Salsa fiesta at the community hall in Bellegarde. We walked down with Adeline and Julien and their two children plus another couple from  Bordeau and their two girls who are visiting this weekend.

It reminded me of the gatherings at Saturna Island with parents standing around talking and drinking and kids roaring around and having a great time.

Here is Evy on the right with her friend from Bordeaux as we walked down to the party room.

The room was set with a bar and big wine casks to stand around and socialize. People were super friendly and interested to meet us and we had a great time. The dinner was a traditional dish somewhat like paella and cooked in an enormous pan with prawns and chicken and mussels but with pasta instead of rice (sorry I can't remember the name--but it was delicious). We ate at long tables all together.

After dinner the dancing began.  We begged off the salsa lessons and headed home about 10:20, but it was a really wonderful evening and a great ending to our week in Bellegarde and Albi.

Today we left and headed south to Carcassonne in the pouring rain.  We're on our way to Narbonne and the  the second half of our trip


  1. Albi looks thoroughly appealing! Beautiful shots.

  2. You should write for a living. All these wonderful places you go plus all the lovely people you meet. You both are such wonderful people that I can see you fitting in with any group.
    I love your comments about places you drive to and the sights you see.
    Plus your photo are Fabulous.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. Hello Joanna. The flower name is Lilas.
    For saturday evening, We were eaten Fide√ľa.
    Thanks for your visit and your comments. We have Passed a great moment with you. Have a Nice travel in the south of France


I really appreciate your comments.