697km (433 miles) SW of Paris; 76km (47 miles) NE of Toulouse

The "red city" of Albi straddles both banks of the Tarn River. The cathedral and the bridges spanning the river are made of brick, as are most of the town's buildings, earning Albi its title -- in the rosy glow of a setting sun, Albi often looks as if it were in flames, a spectacular sight.

The fortified cathedral that broods over the medieval center is a reminder of the bloody struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and the Cathars, a religious group the Church considered heretical. They were also called Albigenses after the town, which was an important center of their movement. The town is also the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec and contains an important museum of his works.