In 2010, the World Heritage Committee added Reunion Island to the list of natural sites and the City of Albi to the list of cultural sites. France now has 35 sites registered to this prestigious list.
This site coincides with the central zone of the Reunion National Park. It covers an area of more than 100,000 ha, which is 40% of Reunion, an island composed of two volcanic mountains situated in the southwest of the Indian Ocean. Dominated by two volcanic peaks, the site presents a wide variety of steep slopes, gorges and wooded valleys which together create a spectacular landscape. It is home to a wide diversity of plants, many of them indigenous to the island. There are subtropical rain forests, misty forests and moors, all forming a mosaic of ecosystems and some quite remarkable landscapes.
"The second overseas site to be classified after the great coral reef of New Caledonia, this international recognition shows the essential place that the Overseas Territories have in France’s rich natural heritage," wrote Jean Louis Borloo, Minister of State, Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, responsible for green technologies and negotiations over climate change, and Marie-Luce Penchard, minister responsible for Overseas Territories, and Chantal Jouanno, Secretary of State with responsibility for Ecology, in a communiqué.
Episcopal City of Albi
Situated on the banks of the river Tarn (Midi-Pyrénées), the old city of Albi in southwest France reflects a flourishing medieval architecture and urban society that can still be seen in Le Pont-Vieux (the Old Bridge), the quarter of Saint-Salvi and its church (10th-11th century). In the 13th century, the city became a powerful episcopal city after the crusade led by the Albigensians against the Cathars. Built in an original southern French gothic style, of locally produced brick in shades of red and orange, the 13th century fortified cathedral dominates the city as a symbol of the power regained by the Roman Catholic clergy. It is completed by the vast bishop’s palace of Berbie, overlooking the river and surrounded by historic dwellings dating back to the Middle Ages. The Episcopal City of Albi forms a coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments and neighborhoods that have not substantially changed for centuries.