Monday, June 27, 2011

A Summers Day Out

One of the lovely things about having friends and family visiting in the Summer months are the memorable days out, visiting familiar and undiscovered places, you see things with fresh eyes and it makes you appreciate your near and far surroundings all the more.

On Saturday we set off for the lovely historical market town of Albi in The Tarn department it's about 50 miles north east of Toulouse in the Languedoc Roussillon region. Like it's larger neighbour Toulouse 'La Ville Rose' most of the buildings are hewn from red brick.  We ambled round the lovely windy, cobbled streets, browsed in fabulous shops, looked up in awe at the imposing Cathedral fortified and built from red brick, inside, every inch of it is painted, it is beautiful.  After a rather fine lunch washed down with local Gaillac wine we strolled along the banks of the River Tarn, with temperatures reaching the upper thirties, we made a lot of cafe stops for long, cold drinks.

The River Tarn

I was rather taken by this shrub, growing by the banks of the Tarn, Belle Mere told me it's a type of Grenadine, (Pomegranate), if I can find one, it will be in my garden next year.

Albi is the birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the largest collection of his works are housed in the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec in the heart of Albi, the museum was founded in 1922 by a lifelong friend and the paintings were gifted by his family.

Desire Dihau Reading a Newspaper in the Garden, 1890

Never one to miss an opportunity to go round an art gallery, the cool, air-conditioned, museum was a welcome escape from the searing heat outside.  Toulouse-Lautrec has never been one of my favourite artists but I did enjoy looking at his works and I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of his works and of the man behind the paintings.  Poor Henri, he was born into a wealthy aristocratic family descended from the counts of Toulouse, his parents were first cousins and as a result of interbreeding Henri suffered from many congenital health disorders, as a child he fractured his right and then left leg, the bones never healed, his torso developed normally but his legs stopped growing, his adult height was 5ft 1. With long periods of convalescence he immersed himself in his art, showing promise and talent he was encouraged by his parents who knew his destiny and future career would be in the art world.

Toilette, 1896

Henri went to Paris and was drawn to Montmarte, he is most famous for his lithographs for the Moulin Rouge and depictions of life in the decadent, seedy underbelly of Paris. I feel he was most comfortable painting prostitutes in the salons and the brothels, the prostitutes of the day rarely left the brothels and he seemed to have an affinity with them, painting them going about there daily business.  Henri was often mocked for his short stature and he consoled himself with alcohol, his favourite tipple was a mixture of Absinthe and Cognac served in a wine goblet and nicknamed 'Earthquake'. Sadly alcohol got the better of him and he spent periods of time in health sanatoriums and institutions.  One of the most poignant items in the museum for me was his walking stick, which he used every day, inside the cane was a secret compartment containing long thin bottles and a glass, this way he could have alcohol on him at all times, he died from complications of alcoholism and syphilis at the family estate in Malrome, he was 36.

Typical Albi Mansion

I did not get a chance to go into this time!

We left Albi and headed for the beautiful hilltop village of Cordes-Sur-Ciel, we took the D roads and drove through stunning countryside, passing pretty villages and narrow roads flanked by sun drenched Gaillac vineyards.


Beautiful Architecture

Views from Cordes of the Summer Countryside

This pigeon was most obliging posing for the camera

Love this stone carving, of a man (possibly the original owner of this medieval building) crawling out.

“In Cordes, everything is beautiful, even regret” Albert Camus.

Crusoe has sneaked onto this photograph, he is recovering beautifully.

Crusoe relaxing on very old flagstones, he looks suspiciously demure, but we know he has just polished off the remnants of a child's ice cream cone! 

With all the entertaining and messing about in the French countryside, I have barely turned my laptop on, hoping to catch up with you all soon.


  1. What a fabulous tour! Your photographs bring it to life!

  2. Oh Dash - where to begin? Such beauty! From petunias to pigeons and everywhere one looks...the most charming...everything! Thank you! And thank you for the Toulouse-Lautrec piece. I do admire his work.

    And saving the best for last - how wonderful to see Crusoe out and about! I've thought about him often.

    Your photos are magnifique!

  3. Look at that countryside! I am usually very much a buildings sort of girl but my word, that scenery is something a bit special.

  4. Beautiful photographs, and I'm so pleased to hear that Crusoe is making a good recovery.

  5. Seriously Dash, your post is almost as good as a vacation in the country. Your photos are really beautiful and Crusoe looks just so ready for his close up!
    I'm glad to read that you are having some fun summer travel.

  6. Ah, le Midi! There is nothing quite like it, is there. Beautiful trip through the Southwest where I am from. Merci beaucoup! Headed there myself in a few days after a week-long stop in Paris where, like you, we survived intense heat thanks to shady streets and sidewalk cafes. A bientot! Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

  7. Those photos just made my day - almost like I was there with you.

    I LOVE your blog!!!

  8. You live in a stunning part of the world Dash. Only today, I was watching Jacques Tati's Jour de Fete and I remarked how rightfully proud the French are of their beautiful land:)) xo

  9. How absolutely gorgeous, Dash! I'm insane with jealousy. The scenery is so beautiful but it's the doorways and windows that totally captivate me and of course dear Crusoe who looks very elegant. x

  10. I'm with everyone else here - so much to love in this post!! What a lovely trip to Albi - it looks like a beautiful town. And of course loved all the Lautrec details - what a sad life indeed. Cordes is gorgeous as well and glad to see that Crusoe is up to his old tricks!!

  11. Fabulous pictures. That countryside! And the sea view! It looks wonderful.

    We're not coming to France until the beginning of September now, we postponed because of my aunt.

    Thank you for your lovely comments as always. I hope you're really well and having a great weekend. Love, C xx

  12. everything looks so beautiful and so relaxing! I would love a week in your photos!! such a treat!!

  13. What gorgeous countryside. Makes me long to be there. And the architecture - so elegant.

  14. Oh gosh, I am so jealous.
    Your photography is just as beautiful as the countryside and town.

  15. HI Dash you do live in a gorgeous place... I guess like me...:)
    We probably do not appreciate just how lovely until we show it to others.. you have a lot more culture though and arty beauty where is mine is back to nature kind of beauty xx
    Just to let you know I am back at the old place .. when you are browsing no longer Ruby Tuesday .. but moi as moi xx

  16. What fabulous photos!!! There's no WAY I'm loading up my pissy little snaps from the Isle of Man after seeing this lot of gorgeousness!

    Wonderful, as ever, Dash!

    Ali x

  17. Très beau moment chez vous , merci EB

  18. I’ve just stumbled upon your lovely blog. I look forward to popping by again for some more inspiration! I'm just new into blogging this year & have put together a daily blog on design, fashion, food, travel and anything pretty. and one on everything coastal
    I had a lot of fun putting them together maybe you would like to check it out if you have a spare minute.

  19. Amazing photos!! Lovely blog!!


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