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A new route

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

The Pont-vieux is 151 metres long and has eight arches. In 1035 an assembly which included the Viscount Trencavel and higher members of the clergy of Albi and surrounding dioceses decided upon the construction of a bridge. All traffic that up to then had passed via makeshift bridges between St Juery and Arthés, little more than planks thrown between the rocks of the ’Saut de Sabot,’ would therefore be redirected via Albi, thus giving the town the monopoly on traffic crossing the river.

Replacing a ferry which passed at the point where the river banks were less steep, the construction of the bridge was a memorable event. It was a sign of economic renewal. From Toulouse to Lyon, from Bordeaux to Béziers, the roads led merchants to the Pont-vieux, the only bridge crossing the river throughout its entire course.

It was an important undertaking, building a link, not only between the separated populations of the Tarn but also between Italy and Spain via the great ’route de Lyon’ which traversed Albi, le Puy and Toulouse. It was a toll bridge with a fortified gate, a chapel and towards the right bank, a drawbridge and the ’ravelin.’

In 1820 the carriageway was redressed and widened to adapt to the new transportation of the industrial revolution. Built primitively in stone, it was given a new brick façade.

At this time, the Tarn was home to an important river trade, carried by barges. Albi’s Port Vielh (old bridge in Occitan) swarmed with life, the site of diverse activities until the end of the 18th century.

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