Castres is a large town in the Tarn department which is part of Occitanie. It is about 48 kilometres from Castelnaudary where we have our house.
We are fortunate that there are so many interesting and attractive towns and villages in the vicinity. The only problem is finding the time to see them all!
Castres is not as well known as some other places and is probably not on the main tourist route. We knew that it would take under an hour to drive there and after
wasting time on the internet some research decided that it would be worth a visit.
You can see from the first photo that we had amazing weather. Look at the colour of the sky! It was the last Friday in September but the temperature was at least 30 degrees.
When we came out of the underground car park, our first view was of the River Agout which flows through the centre of Castres.
I was delighted to spot one of the Miredames boats that will take you on a 45 minute trip (1) down the Agout, as I had set my heart on experiencing a ‘voyage’ in one of these. These boats were traditionally used to transport people and goods. They were built to be able to cope with the very shallow waters.
Imagine my disappointment when I came across this note; there were to be no boats trips at all. A tree was blocking the river… Best laid plans and all that.
Instead we strolled around Castres and admired these stunning houses (2). They originally belonged to the textile dyers who needed the water for their trade.
Our arrival in Castres coincided with the end of the market – unintentionally! This is held in the town square ‘Place Jean-Jaures’ (3) and takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Apparently, an excellent Christmas market is also held here.
As it was such a hot day, we took the opportunity to sit a while and enjoy a cold Belgian beer! This was a new beer to me but the name of the brewery – ‘Sudden Death’ was as appealing as the taste!
We continued our wanderings beneath these pink umbrellas which were there to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Heading for the Goya Museum (4) our walk took us through Le jardin de l’Evêché (5). This was designed by André Le Nôtre who was the principal landscape gardener of Louis X1Vth and who designed the gardens at Versailles. We lingered a while by the fountain, in the garden. Can you spot the rainbow? The Goya Museum is in the background. You can probably spot the theatre, too.
The rest of our time was spent wandering around the old town and through the medieval streets. We visited the Church of Saint-Benoit (6) which was built in the 17th century and was originally a cathedral. The Church interior is undoubtedly Baroque with soaring marble columns and high windows. It was built on the site of a Benedictine abbey-church founded in the ninth century. I forgot to take any photos of the church but here’s a selection I took while strolling through the narrow streets of the old town.
I do hope you enjoyed the mini-tour of Castres! Have you ever visited this small town? Do you have recommendations for other places we should visit in the local area? I’d love to read your comments.