Albi featuring the Sainte-Cécile cathedral and the Pont Vieux (old bridge) over the river Tarn
Albi featuring the Sainte-Cécile cathedral and the Pont Vieux (old bridge) over the river Tarn
Coat of arms of Albi
Location of Albi
Albi is located in France
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Albi is located in Occitanie
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Coordinates: 43°55′44″N 2°08′47″E / 43.9289°N 2.1464°E / 43.9289; 2.1464Coordinates: 43°55′44″N 2°08′47″E / 43.9289°N 2.1464°E / 43.9289; 2.1464
Country France
Region Occitanie
Department Tarn
Arrondissement Albi
Canton Albi-1, Albi-2, Albi-3, Albi-4
Intercommunality Albigeois
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Stéphanie Guiraud-Chaumeil[1]
44.26 km2 (17.09 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2018)[2]
 • Density 1,100/km2 (2,900/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
81004 /81000
Elevation 130–308 m (427–1,010 ft)
(avg. 169 m or 554 ft)
Official name Episcopal City of Albi
Criteria Cultural: iv, v
Reference 1337
Inscription 2010 (34th Session)
Area 19.47 ha
Buffer zone 64.09 ha
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Albi (French pronunciation: ​[albi]; Occitan: Albi [ˈalβi])[3] is a commune in southern France. It is the prefecture of the Tarn department, on the river Tarn, 85 km northeast of Toulouse. Its inhabitants are called Albigensians (French: Albigeois, Albigeoise(s), Occitan: albigés -esa(s)). It is the seat of the Archbishop of Albi. The episcopal city, around the Cathedral Sainte-Cécile, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2010 for its unique architecture.[4]


Albi is the seat of four cantons, covering 16 communes, with a total population of 71,281.[5]


The first human settlement in Albi was in the Bronze Age (3000–600 BC). After the Roman conquest of Gaul in 51 BC, the town became Civitas Albigensium, the territory of the Albigeois, Albiga. Archaeological digs have not revealed any traces of Roman buildings, which seems to indicate that Albi was a modest Roman settlement.

In 1040, Albi expanded and constructed the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge). New quarters were built, indicative of considerable urban growth. The city grew rich at this time, thanks to trade and commercial exchanges, and also to the tolls charged to travelers for using the Pont Vieux.

In 1208, the Pope and the French king joined forces to combat the Cathars, who had developed their own version of ascetic Christian dualism, and so a heresy considered dangerous by the dominant Catholic Church. Repression was severe, and many Cathars were burnt at the stake throughout the region. The area, until then virtually independent, was reduced to such a condition that it was subsequently annexed by the French Crown.

After the upheaval of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, the bishop Bernard de Castanet, in the late 13th century, completed work on the Palais de la Berbie, a Bishops' Palace with the look of a fortress. He ordered the building of the cathedral of Sainte-Cécile starting in 1282. The town enjoyed a period of commercial prosperity largely due to the cultivation of Isatis Tinctoria, commonly known as woad. The fine houses built during the Renaissance bear witness to the vast fortunes amassed by the pastel merchants.

Albi had a small Jewish community during medieval times, until it was annihilated in the 1320s Shepherds' Crusade.[6] Afterwards, Jews were only allowed to transit the town by payment, without living in it. In 1967, approximately 70 Jews lived in Albi, most of them of North-African origin.[7]

Albi has conserved its rich architectural heritage which encapsulates the various brilliant periods of its history. Considerable improvement and restoration work has been done, to embellish the old quarters and to give them a new look, in which brick reigns supreme.

Main sights

Albi was built around the original cathedral and episcopal group of buildings. This historic area covers 63 hectares. Red brick and tiles are the main feature of most of the edifices. Along with Toulouse and Montauban, Albi is one of the main cities built in Languedoc-style red brick.

Among the buildings of the town is the Sainte Cécile cathedral, a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic style, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It is characterised by a strong contrast between its austere, defensive exterior and its sumptuous interior decoration. Built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy, this gigantic brick structure was embellished over the centuries: the Dominique de Florence Doorway, the 78 m high bell tower, the Baldaquin over the entrance (1515–1540). The rood screen is a filigree work in stone in the Flamboyant Gothic style. It is decorated with a magnificent group of polychrome statuary carved by artists from the Burgundian workshops of Cluny and comprising over 200 statues, which have retained their original colours.

Palais de la Berbie
La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec (1892)

Older than the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops' Palace of Albi, now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France. This imposing fortress was completed at the end of the 13th century. Its name comes from the Occitan word Bisbia, meaning Bishops' Palace.

The Old Bridge (Pont Vieux) is still in use after almost a millennium. Originally built in stone (in 1035), then clad with brick, it rests on eight arches and is 151 m long. In the 14th century, it was fortified and reinforced with a drawbridge, and houses were built on the piers.

Albi is a city known for its elite Lycée Lapérouse, a high school with 500 students situated inside an old monastery. It has several advanced literature classes. Furthermore, it is one of the few holding a full-scale music section with special high-tech rooms for this section. The Pacific explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse is commemorated in the museum.

Located in an ancient mill (41 rue Porta), the Le LAIT Art Centre is a research laboratory dedicated to contemporary art.[8]


The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum houses more than 1000 works, including 31 famous posters. This body of work forms the largest public collection in the world devoted to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who was born in Albi in 1864.[citation needed]

World Heritage Site

UNESCO's World Heritage Centre notes the Old Bridge (Pont-Vieux), the Saint-Salvi quarter, the quarter's church, the fortified cathedral (late 13th century) in unique southern French Gothic style from local brick, the bishop's Palais de la Berbie, and residential quarters, which help the Episcopal City of Albi form a "coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments and quarters that has remained largely unchanged over the centuries... a complete built ensemble representative of a type of urban development in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day."[9]


Albi is served by two railway stations on the line from Toulouse to Rodez:

The A68 motorway connects Albi with Toulouse (and Lyon N 88, future motorway).




Albi experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) bordering oceanic climate (Cfb). Like much of southwestern France, the summers tend to be warmer and the winters milder than most areas of similar classification. Substantial summer rainfall prevents its climate from being classified as Mediterranean.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1793 11,176 —    
1800 9,649 −2.08%
1806 10,061 +0.70%
1821 10,644 +0.38%
1831 11,665 +0.92%
1836 11,801 +0.23%
1841 12,408 +1.01%
1846 14,211 +2.75%
1851 13,788 −0.60%
1856 14,636 +1.20%
1861 15,493 +1.14%
1866 16,596 +1.38%
1872 17,469 +0.86%
1876 19,169 +2.35%
1881 20,379 +1.23%
1886 21,224 +0.82%
1891 20,903 −0.30%
1896 21,948 +0.98%
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1901 22,571 +0.56%
1906 23,303 +0.64%
1911 25,100 +1.50%
1921 26,628 +0.59%
1926 29,015 +1.73%
1931 29,351 +0.23%
1936 30,293 +0.63%
1946 34,342 +1.26%
1954 34,693 +0.13%
1962 38,709 +1.38%
1968 42,930 +1.74%
1975 46,162 +1.04%
1982 45,947 −0.07%
1990 46,579 +0.17%
1999 46,274 −0.07%
2007 48,889 +0.69%
2012 49,231 +0.14%
2017 48,970 −0.11%
Source: EHESS[12] and INSEE (1968-2017)[13]

Twin towns – sister cities

Albi is twinned with:[14]

Notable people


See also


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2018". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2020.
  3. ^ However, after the preposition a ~ à, the name becomes as Albi ~ à-z-Albi [aˈzalβi]
  4. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre – World Heritage Committee inscribes five new cultural sites on World Heritage List and approves two extensions to existing properties. Retrieved on 19 November 2011.
  5. ^ INSEE (2 December 2016). "Recensement de la population – Populations légales en vigueur à compter du 1er janvier 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  6. ^ "ALBY (ALBI)". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Albi". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  8. ^ "centre d'art Le Lait". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Episcopal City of Albi". World Heritage Centre - UNESCO. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Données climatiques de la station de Albi" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Climat Midi-Pyrénées" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  12. ^ Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Albi, EHESS. (in French)
  13. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  14. ^ "Albi: Une destination unique" (PDF). (in French). Albi. p. 54. Retrieved 20 April 2021.

External links