- Albi, Carcassonne and Dordogne -

Castres

LINKS to other pages in the Albi, Carcassonne and Dordogne website and the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Home Page
2 : Introduction (Hotels etc.)
3 : Albi
4 : Najac
5 : Cordes Sur Ciel
6 : Bruniquel
7 : St Antonin Noble Val
8 : Gaillac Vineyard
9 : Castres
10 : Carcassonne
11 : St Cirq Lapopie
12 : Rocamadour
13 : Sarlat
14 : La Roque Gageac
15 : Cahors
16 : Guest Book:
HOME PAGE : LIST-O-LINKS INDEX

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CASTRES is the third-largest industrial centre (after Toulouse and Tarbes) in the predominantly rural region of Midi-Pyrénées and the largest between Toulouse and Montpellier. It had a population of 61,760 in 1999.

Situated on the Agoût River, Castres has been a textile centre since the 13th century. Machine tools, wood products, especially furniture, and pharmaceuticals are also manufactured in Castres. In the 9th century it was also one of the stopping places for pilgrims on their way to St Jacques de Compostelle.

The nearby Sidobre region is famous for its landscapes and geological curiosities including unusual rock formations (such as the 'Trembling Rock of the Seven Scythes' weighing 900 tonnes and the 780 tonne 'Peyro Clabado'). The area is also one of the biggest producers of granite in the world. The romanesque ruins at Burlats are also worth a visit. The Castres Tourist Office also arranges guided visits on foot, by bus and also a short cruise on the Agoût river from the centre of the town to the Gourjade leisure park on the Coche d'Eau, "Le Miredames", a wooden boat inspired by the horse-drawn river coaches of the XVIIth century.

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Once the site of a Roman encampment, Castres grew around a Benedictine monastery founded in 647. Protestantism predominated in the 16th century but was suppressed by Louis XIII. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 jeopardized the city’s economy by expelling Protestants, but Castres prospered again under Louis XIV.

Some of the houses along the east bank of the River Agoût started out as homes of the 14th century tanners, dyers and weavers ('peyrats')  (Right)

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The Bishop's Palace (Left) which later became the Town Hall, was built in 1675 under the direction of Jules-Hardoin Mansart who was also the architect of Versailles.

The Town Hall now houses the Goya Museum with its important collection of Spanish paintings including works by Murillo, Velasquez, Pacheco, Ribera and Purga along those by Goya. The collection was amassed by Marcel Briguiboul (1837-92) who had studied art in Barcelona and was donated to Castres in two bequests made in 1893 and 1927.

An Arms Museum, made up of an interesting collection of war weapons and memorabilia donated to the museum by René Gatal (1919-99), a member of the French Resistance in WWII, can also be viewed in the Town Hall.

The Municipal Theatre may be seen on the left of the picture, and the squat spire of the Saint Benoit Cathedral behind the Town Hall is also visible. The Bishop's Palace garden in the French style, designed by André Le Nôtre in the 17th century, is seen in the foreground and in the title picture at the top of this page.

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St Benoit Cathedral   (Right above and Left)

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Local produce and fish from the Atlantic and Mediterranean fishing grounds and local rivers are sold each day in the central market place.  (Right and Below)

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Old houses on the eastern bank of the Agoût River  (Right)

In conclusion one really must include a Google translation of portion of a Castres tourist information page on the web describing some features of Castrate (sic) :

"CASTRATE
Altitude 172 m.
Paris 700 km.Toulouse 70km; Albi 40km; Carcassonne 60km.
In the Heart of HIGH LANGUEDOC, Stage of COMPOSTELLE, Town of RUGBY, CASTRATE combines the ART OF LIVING IN OCCITANIE with HIGH TECHNOLOGY and KNOW HOW."




A visit to Carcassonne starts on the next page.
Please click on the 'Next' button (lower right).


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