Lavaur, cocagne and the jacquemart

Lets get back on track with the southwest or sud ouest de France. This is a gorgeous region that I come often as family around (wife’s father was born here! )and business trips abound. It is a region rich in French history as well as many local flavors still unpoil by the visitors as a car is best here. The pays de Cocagne is wonderful.

Today lets talk a bit about Lavaur, a small town in the department of the Tarn, no 81,and in the region of Midi Pyrénées.  It is on the rive gauche or left bank of the river Agout in a very nice picturesque area. First mention in about 1025AD on writings, it is located northeast of Toulouse, south of Gaillac,and west of Castres. The best way to reach it is by car from Toulouse on the road A68 for fast travel or the more scenic road D112 the one I take and highly recommended for its sights of the country. Parking is by the marché couvert in city center full of sunshade trees ,on grande rue and right off the D112 road at allée Jean Jaurés.

In addition you can reach it by bus on Tarn Bus system,  from the Gare Routiére or bus station at the Halle d’Occitanie (next to store  Netto). 2€ per trip or carnet of 10 for 15€, the popular lines are the 709  Albi/Gaillac/St Sulpice/Lavaur, the 710  Gaillac/Lavaur, the 705  Albi/Grauhlet/Lavaur, and the 765 Castres/Lavaur.  There is a train station or Gare SNCF at avenue de la gare, with the line 17 of the TER  Toulouse – Castres – Mazamet; the TER midi pyrénées site will tell you the schedules at

Some of the must sights in town are the Cathédrale Saint Alain, jardin de l’évêché, tour des Rondes, and the church Saint François, other interesting sights are the Grande Rue pedestrian street, pont Saint Roch, place du vieux marché, and the Plô on the site of the old castle of Lavaur marking its foundation of the city.

The most and its worth it come for the Cathédrale Saint Alain,built in the 13C around 1318AD on a site of a previous romanesque church.  The organ  main corp or buffet is in sculpture wood polychrome of Renaissance style from 1523AD and the organ is a Cavaillé-Coll of 1876, and on top tower it has the famous  jacquemart, or bell tapper the only one in existance in the south west of France.

Episcopal palaces were destroyed during the French revolution and the wells around them kept  as from the 17C to built vast gardens, now the jardin de l”evêché or bishops garden. Sloping towards the river Agoût you can now admire the pont Saint Roch or bridge Saint Roch a monumental work in stones built in 1791AD  with an arch of  49 meters (162 ft) . The Tour des Rondes, is today the tourist office of the city, today you can still see the old ramparts of the city built in the 16C in circular bricks ,and served as the slaughterhouse from 1830 to 1871.

The church or eglise Saint François,built between 13C and 14C it was the biggest franciscan church in the south west of France. Its interior decoration are toulousain inspired and very nice.

Le Plô is the area whre the old castle of Lavaur was built and oldest part from 1035AD . This was ,also, the last refuge of the local Cathars before the arrival of troops of Simon de Montfort in 1211AD, and does burned 400 cathars in the most bloody execution of the cathars war.  The place du vieux marché is from the 16C the place of administration of the city follow by a big wheat storage place or halle aux blés. After the French revolution the city hall is displace near the Cathedral and the house of wheat is changed to an aluminum hall of the Baltard type that was destroyed in 1966. The Grande Rue is the main street of the city today, and point of entry to it;  the beautiful mansions of the 18C and 19C embellished it even more, today is full of shops, and form the main commercial center of the city. The allée Jean Jaurés replaced the old wells and ramparts and it is now a nice walking promenade that houses the Saturdays one of the biggest marché or market day in the Tarn deparment; you can admire the fountain or Fontaine des Trois Grâces at the center. It will be here the new Hôtel de Ville or mayors’ office during 2011.

For shopping do stop by at the Maison du Cadeau,33 Grand Rue, email at decoration of the home, table, and pastels blues of cocagne wonderful beautiful.  For patisseries sweets and chocolats from a master chocolatier from the town do try Pâtisserie Amalric,54 rue pére Colin, email

We stayed nearby with family most often, or at the IBIS lavaur, 1 ave Georges Pompidou, webpage .

For eating, we have try to go out and did so at Les Americains, 1 allées Jean Jaurés, city center, formules menus from 10,50€ and good for light meals at lunch, and a nice cold beer people watching, tel +33 05 63 34 55 31.

The city tourist office webpage is at

The department tourist office of Tarn is ,

and the region tourist office of Midi Pyrénées is at

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