Cordes, perched on a conical hill 24km northwest of Albi, and just a brief trip away by train and bus, is one of the region’s must-see sights. Founded in 1222 by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, it was a Cathar stronghold, and the ground beneath the town is riddled with tunnels for storage and refuge in time of trouble. As one of the southwest’s oldest and best-preserved bastides, complete with thirteenth- and fourteenth-century houses climbing steep cobbled lanes, Cordes is inevitably a major tourist attraction: medieval banners flutter in the streets and artisans practise their crafts.