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Tim
Tim

Day 3: Albi

Albi is probably the most photogenic place that we visited on this holiday, which caught me as something of a surprise. I knew it was reputed to be extremely pretty but I had no idea quite how much and was thrilled to see that our photos did it justice.

Much of the town is noted by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site, maintaining a visual link to medieval times. The sight of the cathedral towering above the town doesn't look as though it could be real ... but it is!

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We approached the cathedral via the beautiful old streets and it appeared as though out of nowhere, despite its imposing size.

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The bridges in Albi are magnificent specimens too.

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Visitors to Albi are spoilt for choice when crossing the Tarn. Whichever bridge you choose guarantees a spectacular view of the others.

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At some point during the day my phone rang. It was Nico, the third member of my old troupe with Cafard! I hadn't had any contact with him since 2002! Unfortunately, he was at the other end of the country. Cafard had told him that I was coming and even provided the dates, but Nico hadn't taken any action: "Tu le connais, lui. Il raconte que des conneries." That was an uncharitable way of expressing that Cafard's assertions often require some fact-checking. I agreed with him and said it right back to him.

At the end of the conversation Clare asked me what I'd been saying because two little girls were listening to me with their hands over their mouths. As I wrote in the initial blog entry for this holiday, a problem of learning French from Cafard is that it was highly non-standard. Well, Nico was a lorry driver, so his manner of speaking was similarly lacking in refinement and I was automatically responding to him in kind, much to the discomfort of those delicate ears in the vicinity.

I felt pretty bad about it because although I have the excuse of not having grown up in France and so not having a natural feel for when "Il raconte que des conneries" should be expressed as something else, I wouldn't be terribly patient with a visitor in the UK using inappropriate terms within earshot of children. That was something of a reminder that being fluent in a language involves more than just being able to converse, understand films and read things with ease; you also need to have a feel for it, and that's something that perhaps can't be learnt if you don't grow up with it, although I make an exception with Esperanto, whose adherents don't need to have grown up with it to be able to say what sounds right and wrong.

Anyway, that's a diversion which is taking too much away from Albi, which was a fabulous place. I'd definitely like to go back one day.

Edited by Tim




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