While it is not exactly undiscovered, Albi is one of those French provincial cities that has only recently come into its own as a tourist destination.

The change in the city's fate came in 2009, when its episcopal area - comprising the cathedral and the Palais de la Berbie, the bishop's palace - was classed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Until recently, Albi suffered from its location which is rather aside from the main tourist routes in France: but within the last ten years, the motorway link with Toulouse has been completed, and the link via Rodez to the A75 is being upgraded to motorway standard.

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Next to the cathedral stands the similarly massive and fortified Bishop's palace, part of which now houses the magnificent Toulouse Lautrec museum.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1864-1901, was the great post-impressionist iconographer of Parisian life in the late nineteenth century; he was a native of Albi, and the museum hosts the largest collection of his work.

This is the country that taught the world about joie de vivre and savoir-faire, about high culture and haute couture.

France has everything a discerning traveler could wish for.

You may have heard the stereotypes, about haughty French waiters, pervasive cigarette smoking and smelly cheese. Centuries of history have shaped France’s rich heritage, and the buildings speak volumes: from the medieval city of Carcassonne to the Renaissance chateaux of the Loire Valley, and the magnificent 19th century Haussmann boulevards in Paris.

To put the record straight: the waiters are formal rather than friendly, smoking is on the decline, and strong cheeses are decidedly optional. You can imagine scenes of the Belle Epoque at the Moulin Rouge as vividly as World War II battles at Omaha Beach in Normandy.For now however, over half the section between the A75 and Albi is still single carriageway.Albi, capital of the Tarn, is arguably the most interesting small city in the Midi-Pyrenees region. Cecilia's cathedral has always been a remarkable and unique monument, being both fortified and built of brick.The conference features an interactive program that includes posters, talks and round tables designed for young researchers.The wide variety of represented disciplines and topics allows attendees to deepen their knowledge of their own research field while broadening their horizons.Other sites act more as matchmaker services and agencies, where people fill out a comprehensive form about themselves which is then looked at by people who work for the service, who then in turn try to match with another member based on the two members' interests and other information.