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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