Albi picturesque: the Castelnau

The interest of the city “to visit” is divided between different districts organized around the Cathedral Sainte Cécile and its place. This magnificent square was freed from the houses occupying it but their location is materialized in the tiling of the present place.



Le Castelnau

This district borders Place Sainte-Cécile, to the south. It developed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with the suburbs of Puech Bérenguier, Puech Amadenc and Verdusse.
It was born of a concerted urban planning following agreements between the Count of Toulouse, the Bishop of Albi and the Viscount Trencavel who shared the rights to develop a new borough on land still vacant.
The more regular layout of the streets reveals a more orderly urbanism, with righter and more spacious streets.

The Bourguetnau (or new town) also bears the appellation Castelnau as opposed to the Castelviel, the primitive site and oppidum, constituting the City in the middle of the Middle Ages.
The wealthiest Albigenses possessed beautiful aristocratic mansions at the end of the medieval period. Today, it is one of the districts of the old center which contains the best preserved and best restored buildings.
Le Castelnau preserves beautiful mansions and offers perspectives on the bell tower of the cathedral which stands out on the roofs.

You can admire the rue Sainte-Cécile bordered on the western side by beautiful wood-paneled facades with large corbellements and the Rue Saint-Clair, with the Hotel Séré de Rivières, its tower and its two elegant Renaissance doors; In the courtyard one can see the rearrangements and openings in the classical taste which triumphs in the 17th and 18th centuries and which envelops these Renaissance testimonies of a sumptuous, perfectly restored setting.
The hotel also has a large vaulted brick cellar.
There are many vaulted cellars in the Old Alby, one of the characteristics of the Albigensian houses; Today they are often furnished by restaurants, shops or art galleries.


On the platform overlooking the intersection of the streets of the Piale, Caminade and the Priests, there is a remarkable view of the southern façade of the cathedral with its porch and bell tower.

One of the six gates of the city, that of La Trebaille. Was located at the entrance of the boulevard Sibille which runs along the old ramparts One of the very beautiful houses of the old rampart belonged to the Toulouse-Lautrec family. The painter, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born there and lived there in his youth before the departure, towards the Gironde, of his mother, the Countess Adele. The building, whose interior is dilapidated, can not be visited.

Via the Rue Saint-Clair, we reach the triangle drawn by Rue Croix-Blanche, the Priests and Puech Bérenguier; A picturesque triangle favored by photographers, artists and painters, who discover here the half-timbered or brick houses and the seductive prospects on the cathedral.



The Rue de la Croix-Blanche offers a beautiful alignment of perfectly restored facades where the brick dominates. The n ° 9 shelters the “Forge of Old Alby” and preserves Renaissance elements. At the bottom of the street, the building of the “Castelnaou”, at 19, rue Croix-Blanche and No. 1 rue des Prêtres, brings together two hotels with Renaissance elements.




It is a perfect restoration of the Office des H.L.M. Which has developed a very pleasant residence in these two buildings, highlighting arcades, galleries, inner courtyards: one of the finest developments carried out in the preserved area.

The rue Puech Bérenguier (named after a medieval family) retains many corbelled, timber-framed and brick façades. It offers a good representation of the general appearance of the medieval streets of Albigensia. The facades have been restored, the street has been laid out with artistically arranged paving stones, framed by pebbles rolled on the edges, and lighting by the ground. You can visit “the House of Old Alby”


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