Rocks in Albi area are not suitable for construction, or only of bad quality. . . . Since middle age, people of the area learnt to use the clay from the alluvia deposited by the Tarn River since a few thousands of years, to bake the bricks and to assemble them in various ways; it proved much cheaper than transportation of stones from far quarries, or much stronger (and less dangerous-fires-) than wooden constructions, and once the technique was mastered, big buildings began to raise in Albi.
There is the cathedral, the Palais de la Berbie, the high bridges, the market hall, and there are the more modest buildings and small houses. . . . . . In the old city, almost all is built with red bricks; the great monuments and buildings will have “their” tips, so here it is for the modest constructions, small staircases in the streets, little houses. . . . .
A few white stones in the window frames give a bit personality to the houses, like on the first picture, here under a tower of St Salvy Collegial; sometimes it is wood (picture 2) which personalises the brick walls.
Bricks are extensively used like here (picture 3), to make big retaining walls. I liked a lot this more modern house (picture 4), Boulevard du General Sybille, with rectangular and arched windows, on a big brick terrace, and where despite the weather, that day, the green of the shutters and the other greens from the trees fit so well with the red bricks.
If you had to renovate that house hosting a restaurant (picture 5), would you apply new rendering, or remove it and redo the junctures between the bricks?
And other little jewels in the church
In the St Salvy church are a number of small chapels in the low sides, and there are many interesting paints, sculptures and altars to look at.
Each little chapel has nice displays, so it is worth to take some time and have a look in the quiet atmosphere of this not very visited church.
On the left side (looking at the choir) is the chapel of the purgatory (first picture) where the paint displaying the purgatory is very “realistic” in some way; I like how the angels “save” some of the sinners (just miss the music of the trumpets at the entrance of the paradise!), and how the devils take some to hell. . . . for eternity, and they resist. .!
On the right side of the choir are these two statues (pictures 2 and 3) of Judith and Esther, (red and blue), the faithful widow of the old testament and the young slave who was chosen as wife by Assuerus, the Persian king (who named her Esther= star), and who was so scared to leave her people, her family, her faith. . . .
This lady in her golden cape (picture 4) is not Jeanne d’Arc but the Virgin discovering the empty cave at the Golgotha (Euh, Personal interpretation).
In St Salvy are few known saints, like St Roch, or here on picture 5, Jude (Or Thaddeus), the “political apostle”, the one who was a resistant against Roman occupancy of Palestina, and who asked Christ why He came back for the Last Supper to be seen by the Apostles only and not by the whole world.
Many other old or modern paints and statues can be discovered in St Salvy, a real treasure of art; many artefacts are listed on the “Inventory of the Historical Monuments of the French ministry of Culture”.
Place du Cloître St Salvy; Entrance of the church: rue Mariès
Rue Mariès or Sainte-Cécile, 81000 Albi
Le Vieil Albi: A 15C House
Walking east from St.-Salvy on r. Maries, this wood and brick "half-timbered" (colombages) house appears on the left. It is also cantilevered on the upper floors (encorbelment or jettying). The reason for the overhanging is found in the fact that buildings were taxed on their ground-floor square areas. This type of encroachment was outlawed in the 17C. Note the gallery on the upper flloor (now glassed-in). This space was used to dry the woad flowers from which indigo was extracted. Continuing east the stree ends in a small olanted square before the Prefecture of the Tarn.