Archive for February 9th, 2018

February 9, 2018

And those Cathars , the Occitanie region now of France!

Lavaur  is the town of my wife’s father birth , it is in the department of the Tarn, in the Occitanie region. Located strategically and nicely in the triangle of Albi, Toulouse, and Carcassonne; more precisely it is east north east of Toulouse and south of Gaillac as well as west of Castres;you get the picture real country deep France. In addition to be cross by the left bank of the  Agout river and, also by the Laragou river  and surrounded by the hills of the Pays de Cocagne.

This is more personal as said my wife’s father Pierre (Peter/Pedro) comes from here. I never met him, he died in a car accident in the snow from Lavaur to Toulouse when she was 10 years old. Still a great impact on her life, and glad to be part of it. There are still family there especially cousins, and of course we go by with some non personal photos and a few personal ones. There are a lot more photos in the individual posts below.

This is a region that is gorgeous and often overlook for further south, but if you want authentic French traditions and little infusion or none of all of tourists then come here. Well not to much, keep it well ok. I do not want to be blame for the overrun ::)

A bit of history: the town of Lavaur was first known to be written about in 1025 as a fortified city ; by 1035 the mention of population north of a castle was mentioned on the site of Plô. In 1065 the constitution of the saviors of Lavaur was given to the monks of the abbey of Sainte-Foy-de-Conques and by 1098 the Church of Saint Alain was built.  By May 1211, Lavaur is taken by Simon de Montfort in a crusades against the Albigeois (cathars) many are executed hang and others burned. By 1213 there is the council of the Church and by 1220 the town is taken by Count Raymond VII and creates a consulat of Lavaur. In 1226 king Louis VIII from a campaign to conquer the Languedoc  stops at Lavaur.  The town fortifications are destroyed , and later the treaty of Meaux in 1229 between Count Raymond VII and king Louis IX bring the peace . By 1255 the construction of the new Church of Saint Alain , and in 1271 the town passes from the Count of Toulouse to the royal domain. By papal decree of  Pope John XXII in 1317 the town is a bishop’s seat. By 1462 king Louis XI raised Lavaur to county and in 1483 it comes to the royal domain of king Charles VIII. By 1540 there is held the Estates generals of Languedoc here to decide on the project of the canal that will link Garonne river to the Mediterranean sea , the future Canal du Midi.

Things to see, the hôtel de ville , change several times it finally was installed at the old justice palace in 2011 keeping the style of the Second Empire.   A must here is the now Cathedral of Saint Alain dating from the 13-15C and its jacquemart  or bell striker of which the first one was installed in 1603. The bishop’s garden French style garden and from the 19C done in the English style ; the Church of Saint Francis , the old Franciscan conventional church and its great organ of 1866. The Tour des Rondes, one of last vestiges of the old town , the monastery of Capuchins founded in 1642, destroyed during the French revolution and redone in 1802, the current chapel dates from 1837 and since 1852 keeps the body of Saint Clémentine a Roman virgin and martyr that was discovered in the catacombs of Rome ; The Hospital of Lavaur done in the first half of the 17C , the bridge of Lavaur in stone over the Agout river built between 1773-1791, and the wonderful halle aux grains the old cereal storage building built by 1880 ; the viaduc of Lavaur , a railroad bridge over the Agout built between 1882 and 1884, and the sanctuary of Notre Dame du Pech.

In French, the town’s webpage on history and heritage sites here:

The department tourist office in English here:

This is the metropolitan area tourism page in French and showcase many other things but a nice page on the Cathedral Saint Alain

Nearby you can have a nice train ride in  Saint Lieux les Lavaur with terminus in Giroussens

And this is the official page in English;

Giroussens you can see the ceramic and the gardens of Martels here

Or a wonderful cave in Saint Sulpice la Pointe they were done with iron picks more than 1000 years ago, with wonderful galleries for 142 meters long underground that served to refuge to the population from bandits of the middle ages

more in English here:

Then, the cousins uncles on father’s side live by Montans just southwest of Gaillac . The town is cross by the Tarn river and many smaller tributaries You can get here on the autoroute or expressway A68 exit or sortie 9 or the better Nationale road N88.

A bit of history well here you go way back to the Gaulois , and one of the most important sites of pottery under the Roman occupation.

The main and most important must visit here is the Archéosite opened in 1995. showcasing the pre history to the middle ages ; there is a street in the gallo roman style as well as a house of ceramic makers from parts found in Montans probably coming from the pottery enclave here in the 1C BC. Every year you have something going on here with events, expo, demonstrations shops, expositions etc to showcase this museum.  The site in English is here:

More in French on the city webpage about the Archéosite and see tourisme for restos etc info

Not to mention Gaillac for more family, cousins and the wine of course; we get it from here direct.  Oldest vineyards of France!! However, take a walk on the Place du Griffoul and see the house at 10 place du Griffoul next to the arcades market hall in brick done in 1842. See the wonderful tower and it has a nice small enclosed garden. All on top has a terrace with a cover of tiles held by beams; the windows takes you to the main building , all in gothic style of the 13-15C. In the middle a nice fountain of Griffoul. 17-18C. More on the tourist office in English here:

Lisle sur Tarn and the chocolates ,another wonderful town in this region of beauty in my belle France. More on general tourism here:

The wonderful chocolate museum with tour, presentation and tastings on place Paul Saissac is here facebook page:

Did I mentioned Castres! And the Goya museum ,yes. The general tourist office here:

The musée Goya managed by the city of Castres is here in French:

OF course the Cathedral and Toulouse-Lautrec at Albi; just magnificent beauty; the tourist office here:

Rabastens and especially its wine cooperative ! The page of it vinovalie is here:

oh yes nice town by the Tarn river and a very good find in wines of the area. The tourist page here:

You go to see earth from heavens and reach Cordes sur Ciel, a must to see! The tourist office is here:

There are a couple towns that I can vouch to be pretty and interesting, these are Graulhet with a trail walk of over 1000 years old; tourist office here:

And of course if you reach it in market days lol!

And the other is Saint Paul Cap du Joux,seat of the Cathars’s bishop! and a nice historical church with the tourist info of the city in French here:

Last but not least, one of my favorite cities of France; the pink city of Toulouse should have another post of its own, but hey enough here to read on Toulouse. The tourist office is here:

I hope you enjoy this quick passage of a beautiful region of France, very much attach to me with many stories that can fill a book. Ah oui the Cathars, and the Meldoises and the Guanches that is us. Cheers! and have a wonderful weekend wherever you are!!!!

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