Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Cordes Sur Ciel 

We hiked up to the top of the hill to the old city of Cordes
Sur Ciel.  It was build by the Count of Toulouse in 1222 during
the Crusades.  A great example of Gothic architecture and is a walled
city.  It is a thriving tourist city, with lots of specialty boutiques, arty 
shops and great restaurants.  Most were closed when we were
there because the season is over.

View of the surrounding farm lands.

A shop that specialized in the blue dye known as 'dyers woad (wood)'.
From the plant Isatis Tinctoria grown in the area, the leaves are crushed 
to extract this beautiful lavender/blue colour that you see
everywhere in France.  Now I understand.  The chemical extracted is
indigo, but in a low concentration.  Dye merchants in the area around
Toulouse became very wealthy in medieval times until it was eventually
replaced by the stronger indigo traded from the East.

A small starter plant.

You can see the gates of the city.  All the cobble stones
and architecture is beautifully maintained.

Some idiot in a smallish SUV trying to negotiate a 
narrow winding pathway that was built for donkeys and 

Sue and Greta

Albi Cathedral and to the right, the Chateau that is now the
Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  

Formal gardens at the Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  You can
see it sits on the banks of the River Tarn. Stunning.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec

Born to aristocratic parents, decedents of the Count
of Toulouse and Lautrec.  He had a genetic disease 
caused by inbreeding (his parents were first cousins) 
where his legs were very weak and did not grow, resulting 
 in him being less than five feet tall.  He broke both legs as 
a boy and walked with a cane.  He was drawn (ha ha) to the 
wild side of life and lived among the prostitutes of Paris, 
who became the subjects of his entire body of art work. 
He had an amazing ability to capture the quirky characteristics
 of his subjects. He died at 36 of alcoholism and syphilis leaving 
behind a huge collection of work....he was very prolific.  Love 
this picture of him painting himself.

Painting of ladies waiting for clients, looking
resigned and bored.

Toulouse Lautrec was also famous for
his posters.  Timing was right for his work
and the printing press.

The Albi Cathedral was first built as a fortress in 1271 and
was under construction for over 200 years.  It claims to be
the largest brick building in the world.  A good example of
southern Gothic Architecture.  In 2010 it was made a UNESCO 
Heritage Site.  The interior is very elaborate in contrast to
the exterior.

Interior of the Albi Cathedral.  Mind boggelingly? beautiful.
Can you imagine being there when the pipe organ is playing?
A prayer chair!  

Beautiful woodwork and paintings on all the walls. 

Looking to the back of the Cathedral.

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