It's not the biggest or most happening place, but it is really pretty, especially if you take a stroll on the river bank, enjoying the view of the cathedral and 11th-century stone bridge (which I think is the one in the background of the photos below).
|I love the light in this one, the moody clouds did rain on us a bit, but made for dramatic photos|
The main reason I had for visiting, though, was to see the cathedral. I think the photos above probably don't give a good idea of its scale. In a word, it's fricking massive. And really unusually shaped from the front, like some sort of strange titanic ship (but not the Titanic...) The Sainte Cécile cathedral, to give it its formal name, was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and claims to be the largest brick building in the world. The reason for the church's forbidding exterior is supposedly to symbolise the triumph of the church militant, commemorating its victory over the Cathars and reminding all who saw it of its might, both spiritual and earthly.
|The bell-tower is 78 metres tall|
|Looking towards the rood screen, one of the few surviving examples in Europe that separated the areas reserved for those in orders and the rest of the congregation|
|The ceiling, which apparently represents the oldest and largest group of Italian Renaissance painting in France|
|The best impression I could capture of the painting which covered every surface|
|A close up of the beautiful stonework on the rood screen|
|Frescoes of the Last Judgement. To give an idea of scale, counting the doorway (which cut through the original fresco), the paintings here cover nearly 200 square metres|
We had a great dinner in the town, another cassoulet, but this time "à l'ancienne", made with pois carrés (square peas), which are mysterious little customers. As far as I can tell (Wikipedia came up with two options in French for pois carré), they may be known as grass pea, blue sweet pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea, Indian vetch, white vetch in English, but since I haven't heard of any of those things, it doesn't help much. Frankly, the traditional lingot beans were nicer, but the pois carrés had a bit of a crunch and a nutty taste which was not unpleasant for a change.