A FORMERLY FORTIFIED BRIDGE
Imagine this bridge, 151m long, 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 into history: In 1040, the construction of a bridge was decided upon and funded by a portion of the revenue from the ferry operated by the chapter to cross the Tarn. At that time, France was experiencing ‘bridge fever’ due to the development of traffic, a consequence of 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, a fruit merchant. In 1766, following a major flood of the Tarn, the city bought the damaged houses to destroy them.
A TOLL BRIDGE
In the 12th century, Albi was at an important crossroads on the routes between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, between the Basque country and Toulouse and Lyon, and between 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;
- raw materials for tannery, tanning and the textile industry
- finished products, utensils and work tools
- the trade in Carmaux coal and pastels.
This document is a very rich source of information about daily life, the nature of trade in the Albi market, the diversity of measures and the nature of transport.
In the Middle Ages, the Tarn was the base of an important river trade that was done on boats called scows. The Port Vielh of Albi, below the old bridge, was alive with life and various activities until the late eighteenth century. Today, scows can still be seen on the Tarn. The fleet of ‘Albi croisières’ is a nod to this historical tradition and gives a different viewpoint of the City, its bridges and its geographical location. In Albi, we enjoy cruising!