The day started out with a visit to the cheese shop under the supervision of Patrick the campsite owner. He also had a French couple in tow who turned out to be from the Yonne department of Burgundy which is our honorary French home, as that is where François the RV is based. We ended up with about 1/3 of a kilo each of three Cantal cheeses, one is called Cantal, one was called Salers, and the last was a blue cheese from the area which one food critic labeled the best he had ever tasted. The Salers cheese is a variant of Cantal that is only produced in two months when a certain flower is in bloom in the region, as the flowers mixed with the grass makes the cows milk that much better, you have got to love the French! We will give you a report later if the flowers make a big difference.
After two days of cold and damp weather we decided to head south in search of sun and heat. We had originally picked out a target of a town that was about 130km as the crow flies. But when Ron punched it into the GPS, the route said it was over 400km’s. Ron cursed and figured he had punched in the coordinates wrong. But after some further study of the map it turned out that this was really a case of the proverbial you can’t get there from here.
Now it was Ton’s turns to study maps, she proposed the town of Albi as a destination. It was south, the roads looked reasonable, and best of all it was the hometown of Toulouse-Lautrec which is both of our favorite French Artist.
The plan for the night was to stay in the Aire in Albi. The GPS led us close to the medieval old town down increasingly narrow roads, and only about 500 yards from the final destination we came to an arch that the road was going under, but the road under the arch was filled with construction equipment. After some studying of the map, and a little maneuvering in tight quarters we headed to our alternative route to the aire. About half way there we fell in behind a Dutch RV that appeared to be going to the same place. Again within about 500 meters of the aire we ran into some more construction and the Dutch pulled over and parked. Ron parked up behind them and knowing that almost all Dutch speak English he walked up and asked them about the aire. It turns out that the road to the aire is under construction and while you can barely make it there, it was full anyway. The husband said that they were thinking about parking for the night at a site we had passed on the way in, but the wife switched from English to Dutch and told him no way they were parking there. I don’t speak a word of Dutch but I didn’t need too to understand that conversation.
Ton and I decided to just leave François where he was and head into Albi to have a look around. Albi turned out to be a real Gem. This is why you do these trips without agendas, to find places like this. Our first stop was the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. The museum has an incredible collection of his art, because apparently the Louvre turned down the collection when his parents offered it to them. The museum is housed in the Palais de la Berbie which is the old palace of the archbishop of Albi. The building is as impressive as the art collection.
Next door is the Cathedral of Albi, which is the largest brick church in the world. We went into the Cathedral and it was as impressive as the outside. We got a break as one half which usually costs 5 euro to get in was open in preperation for a concert so we got a free look at it.