- The Race 2010
- All about the race
While Carmaux reconverted its mining heritage into a leisure park with Cap Decouverte, it did not leave its glass tradition behind in new projects to attract tourists in the area. The secular know-how is honoured in a museum and a workshop dedicated to the art of glass on the very site where it thrived.
The Domaine de la Verrerie, the historical setting of the first coal glassworks in France in 1752, was the ideal place for such homage. The park has been renovated to shelter gigantic glass sculptures.
The castle was built in 1755 by the Knight of Solages, founder of the Carmaux mines, and turned into an imposing and cosy household by his great grandson during the Restoration period. Destroyed by arson in 1895, it is now the home of the Carmaux Community of communes.
The museum is installed in the glassworks itself and displays a new exhibition every year in the summer. Partnerships have been established with leading international glassware companies.
A workshop was installed in the old chapel castle. It is the residency of young glass artists and a perfect complement to the museum.
Carmaux and Blaye-les-Mines are mainly known for coal but they also form one of the French capitals of glass. Outside the Carmaux area, Tarn has had a glassware tradition from the 15th century with forest glassworks in La Gresigne or the Black Mountain. In the 18th century, a new production, black glass or bottle glass is inspired by the English glass factories, the first to have introduced coal in the 17th century.
In 1752, the Knight of Solages creates a Royal Glass factory in Carmaux, using some of the unused coal from the mine. The glassworks will expand and employ 800 people in 1882. The glass workers are a working class elite and receive the best wages in the land. From 1884, industrialisation and new technologies make it possible to hire unqualified workers. In 1895, a strike decides the creation of a cooperative. The project, supported by Jean Jaures, takes place in 1896 with the creation of the Albi Workers Glassworks. The Carmaux glass factory closed down definitely in 1931.
The Tour de l’Avenir made several stops in Blaye les Mines and it was about time the Tour itself made a halt in the old mining city. In 2005, a stage here was won by Frenchma Sebastien Minard. Three years later, the laurels went to Estonian Rein Taaramae in an individual time-trial. A Criterium International stage in 1998 had showed the way. All these events owe a lot to Blaye’s mayor Andre Fabre, a cycling fan since he was a child.
|1302||Creation of a royal bastide (fortified town).|
|1752||Creation of the Solages glass factory.|
|1837||The fist mine opens. Most of the Carmaux coal is produced in Blaye.|
|1934||Blaye en Albigeois becomes Blaye-les-Mines.|
|1987||Closure of the last coal pit.|
|1997||Closure of Grande Découverte, an open air mine.|
|2003||Inauguration of the Cap’ Découverte theme park.|
Near the town hall, a huge 30-metres-high metallic head-frame and an 18th century one, made of wood, recall the town’s mining past. They were used to go down into the Ste Marie pit.
In the old town hall, a small museum is dedicated to local painter Bernard-Joseph Artigue (1859-1936).
Prefecture : Albi
Subprefectures : Castres
Population : 360,000
Websites : www.tourisme-tarn.com / www.tarn.fr
By its surface and population, the Tarn department is the second in the Midi-Pyrenees region. Its climate reflects both the mildness and coolness of the Atlantic and the luminous weather of the Mediterranean.
With a population of 360,000 Tarn is renowned for its quality of life: an exceptional natural and human heritage, a bustling economy and artistic riches make it a great place to live.
The economic network is mostly composed of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. But some large companies like pharmaceutical group Pierre Fabre also bring wealth to the department. Chemistry, food processing, glassware and building material, leather and textile are the main industries. While services are booming, agriculture remain an important part of the country life.
On the bans of a river, Montesties is a peaceful village. Nested around its St Pierre church, the small city keeps many traces of its historical past: medieval fortifications, half-timbered houses, covered squares, 12th century bridge used by the St James Way pilgrims. Such an heritage rewarded Monesties with a label as one of France’s most beautiful villages.
Between stone and nature, round the corner of narrow streets, visitors are surprised to discover cultural treasures set in unique locations: the St Jacques chapel and its remarkable 15th century statues, a manorial house sheltering a museum or and old windmill.
The site is dedicated to a couple of Spanish artists, Martine Vega and Francisco Bajen, who fled Franco’s regime in 1939. In 1967, while walking around the village, they fell in love with an old 15th century manorial house with its courtyard and the tower signalling its owner prestige. They bought the house to create their museum. The project went ahead in 1994 after the couple donated the house to the municipality. Some 120 paintings are on display.
Botanic footpath “the River’s secrets”
The banks of the Cerou are ideal for a peaceful stroll after discovering the town. A footpath winds around the stream, crossing the small Candreze bridge. The path is easily accessible to all the family who will find answers to several questions: what was the Monesties agriculture I the past? Why shouldn’t you sleep under a hazelnut tree?
Between the medieval towns of Monesties and Cordes sur Ciel, Salles sur Cerou retains several remains of the past. An old keep, several towers remind the past presence of a castle and its surrounding walls.
Cordes-sur-Ciel is the first and the most visited bastide (fortified towns) in Tarn. It was established in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse Raymond VIII in the midst of the crusade against the Cathars. Its foundations allowed the populations of threatened nearby villages to regroup. For defensive reasons, the city was built at the top of the Puech de Mordagne. In the late 13th century, Cordes enjoyed enormous prosperity: some 6,000 inhabitants worked in tanning, textile and rope mills. It was the period when Cordes built the beautiful Gothic mansions and townhouses that still make its reputation today.
Museum of modern and contemporary art
In the historical Grand Fauconnier house, the museum is a unique meeting point between medieval architecture and modern art. The collections cover a wide range of styles, recounting the history of 20th century art.
Charles Portal Museum of art and History
The museum is the reference point for the collective memory of Cordes and its neighbourhood. More than a homage to Charles Portal, who founded it in 1904, the museum evokes the several periods that made Cordes what it is today from prehistoric times to the 20th century archaeological discoveries.
Contemporary, oriental and medieval, the Paradise Garden is composed of several enclosures dedicated to a distinct atmosphere or material.
The charming little village was an outpost of Cordes sur Ciel. The church, with its 17-metres-tall bell tower houses a beautiful 17th century altar-piece. Close to the church, the castle belonged to the Tapie de Celeyran family, relatives of the Toulouse-Lautrecs.
At the junction of roads D91 and D15, the dolmen is the most famous megalith in the department. It was excavated in 1984 and 1940.
Neglect led the remains of a Templars commander house to collapse in the beginning of the 20th century. Only the vaulted stables are preserved.
Le dolmen de Vaour
In agreen setting by the river, at the foot of a limestone cliff and its aural caves, Larroque is a picturesque village with half-timbered houses and two castles from the 16th and 18th centuries.
Puycelsi was not a bastide as such but still a remarkable fortified village from the Middle Ages. The walls were equipped by seven towers and two gates still visible today: the Gate of the Irissou and the Gate of the Navistour (a tower in the shape of a nave). The village grew around a Benedictine monastery from which only the imposing Ste Corneille church remains. Puycelsi (the heavenly mound) keeps traces of its religious past like the St Roch chapel built in 1703 to conjure plague. The St Jacme chapel, belonging to the Vaour Templars and the houses of several little congregations.
Castelnou de Mon Mirailh was the name first handwritten by a banister in 1241. It meant the new castle on the lookout mound. Castelnau de Montmiral indeed stands on a promontory on the left bank of the river Vere, an ideal post for a medieval settlement. It was built by Raymond VII of Toulouse around 1220.
The reliquary cross of the Counts of Armagnac
A real masterpiece of religious jewellery, this treasure is one of the most beautiful of its kind in France and is now part of an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. It can otherwise be seen inside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church. It was held in great devotion by the locals for it contains bits from the Holy Cross and several relics from the apostles. It played an important role in the religious life of the village and used to be taken out for a procession recalling the defeat of the Protestants in 1586.
Concealed near the castle by a priest during the French Revolution it was found by a pig digging for food several years later.
Built around the St Michel Abbey in 972, Gaillac (from Latin Gallus = rooster) was always renowned for its wine and kept a great heritage from its past: a beautiful abbey and its abbatial church standings on the banks of the river Tarn. The St Michel monks used to send their wine by boat to Bordeaux on the Tarn and today Gaillac reds and whites travel the world. Several parts of town and the Griffoul square with its arcades recall the medieval period. Several museums are indispensable to discover this pretty city and its typical red bricks: the Wine and vine museum n the Abbey, the Museum of Fine Arts.
A rugby town, Gailllac had several internationals in ts ranks: Eric Blanc, Bernard Laporte or Vincent Moscato.
St Michel abbatial church
In 972, a Benedictine community was present on the site and making wine which was exported by the Tarn river. The abbey was rebuilt in1271. Twice destroyed by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion, the building was restored in 1570 and 1620. In 1849, a new entrance was built by Alexandre du Mege in a neo-Romanesque style. Important restoration work was undertaken in the late 19th century and completed in the 1990s.
Museum of the Fine Arts-Foucauld Castle
Built in 1630 by Jacques de Foucauld d’Alzon, president of the Toulouse parliament, the castle is surrounded by a park and a beautiful garden designed by a pupil of Le Notre. Inside the castle, the museum shows a collection of French paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries and a sculpture room.
According to poet Ausonius, Roman emperors used to drink Gaillac wine. Potters in Montans built amphora. The wine, with added spices, sold well. In 972, monks from Candeil settled in St Michel and apparently started making sparkling wine long before Dom Perignon. Today, some 200 producers welcome visitors in their vineyards. Gaillac produces quality red and white wines. The grapes are local breeds: Mauzac and Loin de L’œil for the whites, Duras and Braucol for the reds.
Graulhet grew on a rocky island between the Dadou brook and the Jourdain marshlands. Its names comes from Granolha (frog), an animal extremely frequent ion the site at the time. The town’s medieval past is still obvious in the picturesque streets of the Panessac quarter. Hostellerie du Lion d’Or is one of the oldest oak timber-framed houses in the south of France. In the 17th century, the Count of Aubijoux, lord of Graulhet, was the lieutenant-general of Languedoc. He was a friend and sponsor of Moliere during his ten years touring the south of France. His Crins castle, on the banks of the Dadou, was often entertained by troubadours like Chapelle and Bachaumont.
Gaulhet was essentially agricultural at the time yet a fraction of the population already turned to other trades like tanning or shoemaking, activities which made her wealth and reputation in the industrial era.
Graulhet is a rugby town, and the original club of French international Yannick Jauzion.
The small medieval village owes much of its renown to the Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa family, whose most illustrious member was painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a leading figure of art in the beginning of the 20th century. Affected by a bone injury which stopped his growth, he became the soul of Montmartre and lived a bohemian life which finally destroyed his fragile health. Alcohol and syphilis took him at the age of 37.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s passion for cycling is often overlooked but he drew more than a hundred advertising posters for Simpson chains or the big cycling tracks of his time. A close friend of writer Tristan Bernard, who was also the director of the Buffalo track, he spent a lot of time in the tribunes drawing sketches of cyclists he later used in his posters.
In the Middle Ages, a Benedictine abbey existed on the site under the protection of the Lautrec viscounts. In the Wars of Religion, the Protestants seized the town and plundered the abbey. The year after, the Catholics took it back and plundered it in turn. The fatal blow to the monastery was given by the French Revolution.
In the 19th century, restoration work on the church excavated the tomb of Abbess Pontie, buried in 1238.
On the outskirts of the Montagne Noire, the village was built on a small volcanic hill or puy. A Cathar stronghold, it prospered by providing the whole of Europe with blue pastel. Pastel mills were an ideal base for the diffusion of protestant ideas, which spread rapidly in the former Cathar country. During the Religion Wars, almost the entire population was Calvinist and in 1660, it became known as the Geneva of Languedoc when Montauban’s Protestant Academy was transferred within its walls. The Academy was closed down in 1685 when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. In the village was born troubadour Guillaume Lavabre, who is thought to be the first to have called the new French Republic Marianne in a song written in 1792.
A peacock features on the town armouries for Paul in Occitan is Paou, which also stands for peacok.
During the Wars of Religion, Henry of Navarre, the future King Henry IV, met the Duke of Montmorency, governor of Languedoc, in St Paul. They signed an agreement in August 1585 which was essential to Henry’s accession to the throne. After Henry IV’s death in 1610, fighting resumed, more violently than before. The villagers were all Protestants and sought refuge in the nearby Catholic bastide of Damiatte. To eradicate Protestantism, Catholic troops destroyed Damiatte, killing the entire population, regardless of its religion.
Prefecture : Montauban
Subprefectures : Castelsarrasin
Population : 235,000
Website : www.cg82.fr
The department was created in 1808 by a Napoleon imperial decree to answer the plea of the city of Montauban, angered at being but a subprefecture of the Lot. The department was created on territories drawn from neighbouring departments. Small in size, it offers a large variety of landscapes from the plain and the Aveyron valley in the South to the Lomagne hills in the North. The eastern part of the Tarn-et-Garonne is a plateau dedicated to sheep breeding. The gorges of the Aveyron in the region of St Antonin are tourist favourites for their beautiful landscapes.
Tarn-et-Garonne is a farming area and produces 80 pc of the fruit in Midi-Pyrenees.
Its location made Bruniquel a popular city in the Middle Ages for merchants and pilgrims on St James Way who stopped at the Ste Catherine hospital, opened in 1303. The narrow streets bear evocative names, rue Bombecul (big arse), rue Trotte Garces (trotting bitches). Legend attributes the creation of the castle to Merovingian queen Brunehaut in the 6th century. It became the property of the Counts of Toulouse in the 12th century. It was later split into two branches of the Comminges family hence the division between the Old Castle and the New Castle. The site was used as a set for the 1975 Robert Enrico movie Le Vieux Fusil (the Old gun) with Philippe Noiret and Romy Schneider.
While the computer age seems to signal the end of printed paper, Lavaur went against the trend by launching its first Paper Arts and Techniques Festival (STAP). The idea, inspired by the presence in town of a state-of-the-art printing press, Art et Caractere, was to bring together professionals of the noble material. Art et Caractere, rewarded by the industry’s most prestigious prizes, was naturally the festival’s first partner. The first such event in France welcomed printers, publishers, bookshop keepers, illustrators as well as paper artists to discuss their trade and help discover little-known crafts and know-hows.
In the first edition, inaugurated by Culture minister Frederic Mitterrand, the guests of honour were International Research Centre for Paper Folding Modelisation (CRIMP) and association Culture Papier. Some 60 companies were present to prove that paper is not yet a material of the past.
Lavaur was in 1211 one of the towns most hard hit by the repression of the Cathar heresy led by Simon of Montfort, who started his conquest of the County of Toulouse. In 1181, Pope Alexander III had asked Henri of Marsac, cardinal of Albano, to lead an anti-Cathar mission with the support of Raymond V of Toulouse. Lavaur was known as a Cathar stronghold but the town handed two Cathar bishops to the cardinal and order was restored. But the heresy was stronger than ever.
In 1211, the town was ruled by Guiraude de Laurac, the widow of the local lord. Lavaur was again one of the main Cathar towns and Guiraude’s brother, Aymeri of Montreal, had found refuge at her sister’s. He was one of Simon of Montfort worst enemies. Montfort, who had just conquered Minerve, Termes and Cabaret, was now setting his sights on Toulouse and Lavaur was an ideal starting point. When he reached town in March 1211, he did not have enough troops to seize it. But when Guiraude de Laurac asked the Count of Toulouse for support, Raymond VI only sent a few knights when he could have won easily. The count was probably wary of an anti-Cathar campaign in Toulouse, the White Brotherhood, who sent 5,000 men to help Simon of Montfort. Outnumbered, the Lavaur troops were forced to surrender. While the troops sent by Raymond VI were spared, Aymeri of Monteral and his men were massacred. As for Guiraude, she was handed to Simon’s soldiers, lynched and thrown into a pit. Simon of Montfort’s tactics were clear. His goal was to inspire fear while the Count of Toulouse showed indecision and weakness.
The only Tour de France stage to finish in Lavaur in 2001 saw the victory of Belgian Rik Verbrugghe after a long solitary breakaway. The peloton was leaving the Pyrenees, on which local hero Laurent Jalabert had seized the polka-dot jersey. Jalabert was almost at home in Lavaur, having won the Criterium International in town in 1995. Winner of two stages, Jaja had finished third in the final time-trial won by Pascal Lance.
In 1994, another rider from the South-West, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, had won a stage of the Route du Sud in Lavaur. The town is also noted for women’s cycling as Francis Moncassin’s cousin Cathy, a multiple French champion, rides for the local club.
|1025||A small fortified town is described in several writs.|
|1098||Construction of the St Alain church. The land is offered by Isarn, the bishop of Toulouse.|
|1181||Lavaur is besieged for sheltering Cathar heretics.|
|1211||Lavaur is seized by Simon de Montfort during the war against the Cathars. Lady Guiraude is thrown into a pit. Eight knights are hanged and 400 Cathars are burnt on stakes.|
|1220||After the death of Simon de Montfort, Lavaur is taken back by future Count of Toulouse Raymond VII. He kills he entire garrison.|
|1317||Pope John XXII makes Lavaur a bishop see. The town develops as a result.|
|1468||Louis XI turns Lavaur into a county.|
|1483||Lavaur returns to the Royal domain of Charles VIII. A terrible plague hits town.|
|1540||A session of the Languedoc Estate General is held in Lavaur to discuss the project of a canal between the Garonne and the Mediterranean, the future Canal du Midi.|
|1589||Languedoc leaguers swear to never recognise a heretic as their king.|
|1800-1926||Lavaur is temporarily a subprefecture of Tarn.|
The riders leave the coal mines of Blaye les Mines and its latest pit, closed in 1987. After crossing the Black mountain, the peloton reached the Aquitaine Basin, like the Paris Basin filled with sediments coming from the erosion of Massif Central.
Billions of tons of rocky debris, carried by the flows of rivers and streams, formed thick layers of sand and sandstone.