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Heritage at the heart of development

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

After the creation of the protected site, a plan of conservation and protection was elaborated under the direction of France’s Chief Architect for Historic Monuments.

This led to the implementation of a project, approved by the municipal council in 1973 and then by the National Commission of Protected Sites in 1974. It was necessary to wait until the council of state’s decree on the 21st January 1993 for the protection plan to be enacted.

Nonetheless, in 1978, as part of its ’town contract’ the town of Albi launched the first rehabilitation programmes in the ancient centre, now a priority for the implementation of urban planning.

In 1979, the local fund for housing assistance was created with the principal mission of guiding the rehabilitation. The town acquired several buildings and entrusted their rehabilitation to the ’Office Départemental des Habitations à Loyer Moderée’ (a government agency charged with rent control) with the aim of providing social housing in the town centre.

The town had two objectives:

  • improve the parts of town which had suffered the most serious deterioration
  • maintain the population of the ancient centre by creating social housing, attracting a new population and ensuring social diversity

This effort was translated into a policy to treat whole urban blocks together, renovating the road network, reorganising traffic and refurbishing public spaces. This operation allowed the rehabilitations of many of Albi’s poorer quarters and more than 44 homes were renovated and consecrated to social housing.

Improving the banks of the Tarn

A forgotten space for more than a century, the banks of the Tarn, in the protected site, were landscaped, allowing the people of Albi to rediscover a peaceful site where they could come for relaxation. Major protection and conservation works on the banks of the Tarn were undertaken between 1988 and 1992, including:

  • consolidation, widening and stabilisation of the banks and the creation of footpaths and stairways providing access to the river bank
  • clearing of overgrown sections of the river bank
  • reinforcement works (pillar n° 1 of the Pont-vieux) and refurbishment of the quays
  • installation of benches, dustbins, safety rails...

In parallel, the refurbishment of the banks also allowed the creation of new tourist attractions through:

  • the transformation of the old lock house into a restaurant in 1989
  • the resumption of ferry crossings from May to October through the launching of two ’gabarres’ (flat bottomed barges identical to those that sailed the river from the 17th to 19th centuries) in 1997
  • the inauguration, in June 2004, of a 4km urban footpath ’l’Echappée verte’ which runs along the at the foot of the fortifications of the Berbie palace then along the Caussels stream, through an authentic and well preserved natural site. This path offers remarkable panoramas and an unexpected approach to the heritage and the biodiversity of the town.
  • the establishment of the summer event ’Les Rendez-vous des Berges’ (the meetings on the banks), organised on the river banks from 2006-2010. An invitation to enjoy musical and literary siestas at the foot of the Berbie palace’s fortifications
  • a variety of other events regularly taking place along the banks: open air film projections, concerts...

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