Archive for May 3rd, 2020

May 3, 2020

Montans in the Tarn!!

And ok as usual, the most emblematic towns personally speaking are the ones with the least photos, an old habit that is hard to get rid of. Anyway, even if mentioned briefly in previous posts I need to tell you about this town in a post dedicated to it, the minimum hommage.

I like to tell you a bit more about a sentimental spot in my belle France. This is Montans just outside Gaillac in the Tarn dept 81 of the region of Occitanie in my belle France.

The town of Montans is a very small village; this is where the family had uncles and cousins still there ; my wife grew up going to the local wine cooperative nearby in Técou. Nestled in the heart of a thousand-year-old vineyard, 4 km from Gaillac, the village of Montans is known for its production of Gallic and then Roman pottery, attested by numerous archaeological remains unearthed since the 19C. The Archéosite, an exhibition space depending on the community of Tarn and Dadou, offers a journey back in time to discover the daily life of Gallo-Roman potters with archaeological objects and life-size reconstructions.  The town is cross by the Tarn river and many smaller tributaries You can get here on the autoroute or expressway A68 (autoroute de pastels) exit or sortie 9 or the better the N88 road. Of course, I come from Gaillac on the D87.


visiting cousins Montans

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. This is old and small Montans.

The place called Le Rougé was occupied in the first Iron Age , then in the Second Iron Age. This last epoch has left common ceramics of Gallic tradition like cups and bowls ,and some vestiges of Campanian pottery. In 1982, prevention and rescue excavations in the district of Labouygue unearthed seven rudimentary potters’ ovens from Tène III, with full hearth and open hearth. The Tibetan era (years 14-37) produced sigillata pottery and numerous vestiges of wine amphorae of the Pascual 1 type signed Tarani, more stocky than the Catalan or Languedoc amphoraes. Dating from the very beginning of the 1C, these amphorae accompany the beginnings of the Gaillac vineyard. With the Roman occupation, the site became in the 1C a major production center for pottery sigillata from southern Gaul. There are many Montans potteries throughout the West of France, up to Spain, in Brittany, as well as in Great Britain. They also make other ceramic productions in Montans: antefixes, oil lamps, statuettes etc The first vestiges of potters’ workshops in Montans are only mentioned in 1868.

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. Every year you have something going on here with events, expo, demonstrations shops, expositions etc to showcase this museum.  Worth the detour me think. The Archéosite in French is here: Official Archéosite of Montans


Some further webpages about Montans and the Archéosite are here to help you plan your trip,again worth the detour me think.

The city of Montans on the Archéosite in French: City of Montans on the Archéosite

Tourist office of the Tarn dept 81 on the Archeosite of Montans in English: Tourist office Tarn 81 on the archeosite

Tourist office of Bastides and Vineyards local info on Montans and the Archéosite in English here: Tourist office of Bastides and Vineyards on Montans and Archeosite

Now you are all set with official information and just need to be there, great area wonderful architecture, history ,wines ,food the works this is the Tarn, Occitanie at Montans and we have it in our heart. Hope you enjoy it

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 3, 2020

Graulhet and leather!

And again in the region, very well known criss cross it for years, this village we have cousins on the outskirt on the road D964 towards Gaillac passing the wine cooperative of Tecou! Of course, this is in the Tarn dept 81 in the region of Occitanie and bien sûr I am speaking of Graulhet!

Let me tell you a bit more on Graulhet the leather town of France!  A big of history I like

There have been archaeological discoveries, dated from about 500 to 100 B.C.  The Roman presence is manifested among other things by the presence of a Gallo-Roman oppidum.   The castrum of Graulhet, first mentioned in 961, in a testament of Raymond I, Count of Rouergue. In 1166, Graulhet, then a lordship, passed under the control of the Counts of Toulouse. In the 16C, faithful to the Catholic Church of Rome, although in Cathar country, the city suffered relatively little damage during the crusade against the Albigeois and during the wars of religion, partly thanks to the policy of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux , Lord and Earl of Graulhet, who is also lieutenant-general. In the 17C, the grandson of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux, François-Jacques Amboise was the friend and protector of Molière from 1647 to his death, as the artist began his career and just fled his Parisian creditors. Its Chateau de Crins hosts at the same time troubadours like Chapelle and Cachaumont, on the edge of the Dadou river.

More on the history from the city hall of Graulhet in French here: City of Graulhet on its history

Some of the things to see here are the Château de Lezignac (17C), the old bridge, built in 1244 allowing communication between the old village and the new Saint-Jean neighborhood where tanneries were gradually settled on the right bank of the Dadou river.  The Medieval district of Panessac with rue Panessac  a typical medieval style alley, narrow, lined with wooden-framed buildings and corbelled from the 16C and 17C . The Hostellerie du Lyon d’Or, a superb medieval building; Henri de Navarre, future king Henri IV, made a gourmet stopover here. Note the crosses of St. Andrew, typical of the 15C, on its beautiful facade and the marks of assembly in Roman numerals on the wooden sections. The Notre-Dame-du-Val-d’Amour Church, at the foot of which is the funerary slab of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux. Home of the leather trades: visit of an ancient Mégisserie, the different stages of the transformation of leather, from skin to objects made of leather. True local culture for centuries, the work of leather has made Graulhet the capital of sheepskin, leather mainly used for the lining of shoes. Today it remains the largest French megisserie center: the tanning of small skins.

More on the leather trade on the following webpages:

Graulhet leather for contacts and a private tour; Graulhet leather association contact

The tourist office of the area Bastides Vineyards in English on Leather businesses: Tourist office Bastides and Vineyards on Graulhet leather businesses

The house of leather in Graulhet sort of like a museum but actual work can be seen in English: Tourist office of Bastides Vineyards on Graulhet leather house

Needless to tell you the leather business is big here and for centuries one of the best in France, Europe you name it. If you want leather come here, they can even taylor made one for you, inquire at the house of leather.We with local folks come for shopping even in the market and this is what we love the most and my dear late wife Martine die for it.

Of course, for a quaint one stop shopping the French way , the market is it. And did I said we love them, yes we do, one of the best shopping experiences in all of France. Graulhet is no exception and the small town ambiance makes it even more superbe! I recommend you to come and visit the markets of Graulhet.

Graulhet needs to be reach by car as there is no train station, and even this it is a bit off the A68 road (autoroute de pastels) connecting Toulouse to Albi and really link to Gaillac by the D964 road . Naturally, we come here by car always.

The main market here is on Sundays morning from 8h to 13h at Place de la République over to Place du Jourdain. More info on markets in English here; Tourist office Bastides Vineyards on Graulhet markets


Then, there is  one on Thursdays from 8h to 13 at Place du Jourdain . More info in English here: Tourist office Bastides Vineyards on Thursday market in Graulhet


And still a smaller market at place du Bosquet with more info in English here: Tourist office Bastides Vineyards on small market in Graulhet

We really love to come, the choices in the country are tops even in France…. And really we came here with the fam for shopping so as said need more time as a visitor because as locals we go for food! Lol!


My Martine really loved these markets here Graulhet pl du jourdain

And there you go a real deep country off the beaten path town of my Tarn 81 in architecturally and historically stunning Occitanie in my belle France, this is Graulhet come and discover it, you will be delighted as we are

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 3, 2020

Giroussens !

And here I am back in one of my favorite regions of my belle France, this is deep Tarn dept 81 in region of Occitanie. I was doing my road warrior tours of the regions as I do every couple of years as cousins are around and came into this picturesque town. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more about Giroussens!

Giroussens sits above the Agout valley between Lavaur, Graulhet and Saint-Sulpice –la-Pointe at about 40 km from Toulouse. The village was originally located 1 km from its current location. We came from Graulhet as family cousins are there on the D681 road but you can come from Toulouse on the A68 (autoroute de pastels) and get off at the D2 to Giroussens.

A bit of history I like to follow.

A Gallo-Roman villa is located on the edge of the Agout river. It was occupied in the 5C by the Visigoths who left a necropolis (currently the Martels). The Lord Amalric de Lautrec erects Giroussens in Bastide, and from then on a city grows and thrives in the shelter of its ramparts. The Church of Saint-Salvi was rebuilt at the end of the 14C. In 1381, the Count of Foix-Béarn, Gaston Fébus, will defeat looters in the plain of Albi. Upon the death of the Count, Giroussens returned to the domain of king Charles VI. Then the city passed to Mathieu de Foix-Graillis by order of king Charles VII in 1425. Under Charles VIII, the estate returns to the Royal crown. But king Louis XIV ceded the lordship to François de Gélas, Viscount of Lautrec and Marquis of Ambers, in 1695. The village will remain in his descendants until the French revolution. The village is known for its production of painted terracotta and glazed lead from 1538. The museum of the neighboring Rabastens maintains a collection of more than a hundred dishes, plates, benitiers and stoves in glazed pottery originating from Giroussens.

Things to see in Giroussens, in addition, are the Jardin des Martels, the original castle, Pech Mascou, built in the 13C. In 1437, the castle was a royal prison but it was set ablaze by the Protestants in 1562. A second castle, the Château de Belbèze, was built in 1640 . It is of square plan with four towers covered with pyramid roofs. It was ceded and sold eventually in the French revolution.


The Church of Saint-Salvi dates from the 14C. It consists of a four-span nave with arched warheads and a polygonal five-part choir. Three chapels are present in the spans. The façade is surmounted by a steeple-wall. The Church has furniture of altarpieces and paintings from the 17C and 18C. The chapel in the north is dedicated to Sainte Rufine, patron saint of potters and has a altarpiece of 1637. The walls of the nave are covered with wall painting by Fernand Augé (1896) and Paul Prouho (1900). A bit more on the history of this church that I like


Following the destruction of the old church in 1562, during the wars of religion, the current Church of Saint Salvi was rebuilt at the end of the 16C, the base of the large walls were preserved, the collapsed vaults rebuilt and raised, additional chapels are added. The original Gothic portal was then moved from the south wall to the west gable. It is the only vestige of the 13C church. The original church occupied the same location and was surrounded by the parish cemetery. It had two chapels forming, with the sanctuary a Latin cross. It was flanked by a square bell tower serving as a sachristy and a single door at the end of the south wall. After having been burnt down in 1562 by the Protestants of Lavaur, it was rebuilt at the end of the 16C, the large walls were preserved, the collapsed vaults reconstructed and raised. The original Gothic portico was then moved from the south wall to the west gable.


It was at the beginning of the 17C that the large altarpiece of the choir including 5 panels was placed. In 1638, after the birth of the Dauphin of France, the Church of Saint Salvi was embellished with statues of the Virgin and Saint Joseph, they are made of gilded wood. Around 1740 the altarpiece was seriously modified to allow the installation of paintings representing the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension. In 1790 the clergy of Giroussens included a parish priest and 3 vicars who did not take the oath of the French revolution were killed. In 1791 a sworn priest was sent to Giroussens as the new parish priest, but the clergy, determined to ignore him, remained there, occupying the curial house and continuing the celebration of worship. 1794, the church is closed and transformed into “Temple of Reason”. Certain statues were removed and hidden then restored at the end of the 19C but all the altar ornaments were sent to the cast iron. In 1804 the resumption of worship., and from 1825-1836 the rather dilapidated church was restored and refurnished. In 1856 the new sacristies surrounding the choir were built. The large bell and the small bell are dated 1870. The middle bell of 1822.

The Catholic diocese of Albi has nice pictures on the Church of St Salvi in French here: Catholic diocese of Albi on Church St Salvi of Giroussens

We did go into the ceramics center here world famous: The ceramic center for pottery traditions and sales to the public more info in French here  : Centre Ceramique de Giroussens


giroussens maison de la ceramique contemporain jul10

With more time you can go the Martels garden, more info here in English: Jardins des Martels at Giroussens

And a very nice little train ride we took from Giroussens Martels garden to Saint-Lieux de Lavaur very nice for the family and helping preserve a beautiful tradition . More info in English here: Petit train on rails from Giroussens

And many of my information comes from the heritage foundation of Giroussens here in French: Heritage association of Giroussens


overlooking the Agout valley rememberance and me

And there  you go another dandy in the Tarn 81 and wonderful territory of many souvenirs, always looking forward to be back in these lands. Hope you have enjoy the post on Giroussens , a small village but loaded!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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