The Pont Vieux

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Albi’s Pont Vieux ("Old Bridge" in English) is a medieval bridge still in use. Crossing this bridge gives you one of the most beautiful panoramas of the Berbie Palace and Sainte-Cécile Cathedral. The first link between both Tarn riverbanks, the Pont Vieux is a patrimonial element of Albi. It not only has a UNESCO classification within the Episcopal City but since 1961 it also has a Historical Monument classification.

A FORMERLY FORTIFIED BRIDGE

Imagine a 151m long bridge, safeguarded at each end by drawbridges, which explains why the arches are narrower there. It was defended at the centre by the fortified Notre Dame tower, which has since disappeared.
Looking back through history: In 1040, the construction of the bridge was funded by a portion of the revenue from the ferry operated by the Chapter. At that time, France was experiencing ‘bridge fever’ due to productive, demographic and commercial growth. In the 16th century, this bridge had a different appearance, as half-timbered 60 to 80 m2 houses straddled the roadway. 11 families lived there - tanners, shoemakers, weavers, fullers and a fruit merchant. In 1766, following a major flood of the Tarn, the city bought the damaged houses to destroy them.

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Pont-vieux-zoom-sur-les-piles-du-pont-Albi-Tourisme.jpg, par Fabienne

A TOLL BRIDGE

In the 12th century, Albi was at an important crossroad link: the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Basque country, Toulouse, Lyon, Catalonia and Paris. Fairs and markets played a key role. As a point of passage, the Pont Vieux was able to levy a toll. A very complete price list, dated 1245, includes 200 articles among which were:-

  • Food
  • Raw materials for tannery, tanning and the textile industry
  • Finished products, utensils and work tools
  • Coal and pastels from Carmaux

This document is a very rich source of information about daily life, the nature of trade in the Albi market, the nature of trade at this time, etc...

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Pont-vieux-eclairage-special-Nuit-Pastel-evenement culturel juin-Albi-Tourisme.jpg, par Fabienne

PORT ACTIVITY

In the Middle Ages, the Tarn was an important river trade point using boats called "scows". The Port Vielh of Albi, below the old bridge, was alive with life and various activities until the late 18th century. Today, scows can still be seen on the Tarn. The fleet of ‘Albi Croisièresupholds this historical tradition giving a different view of the city with its bridges and its geographical location. In Albi, we enjoy cruising!

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pont-vieux-croisiere-en-gabarre-sur-le-tarn-albi-tourisme.jpg, par Fabienne