Castres

A showcase for Spanish painting

Set in a part of the old Episcopal palace of Castres, designed by Jules-Hardouin Mansart, one of the architects of the Versailles palace, the Goya Museum in Castres is an often overlooked jewel of Castres cultural heritage. While it was created in 1840, it became specialised in Spanish painting thanks to a donation by Briguiboul to the municipality in 1894. Himself a painter and collector, Briguiboul was fascinated by Spanish masters and acquired many works including several of Goya's best paintings, Self Portait with glasses, the portrait of Francisco del Mazo, a series of Los Caprichos, and the Junta of the Philippines, an exceptional masterpiece.

In 1949, a loan by the Louvre Museum reinforced the museum's vocation – a portrait of Felipe IV by Velazquez and the Virgin of the Rosary by Murillo.

The museum also owns four series of engravings by Goya, which are only displayed temporarily for preservation reasons. The museum of Hispanic art, alone of its kind in France, has become in the course of time a place of reference to appreciate the beauties of Spanish art from the Antiquity to the 20th century.

Web sites

Jules-Hardouin Mansart , portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud. Palace of Versailles.Goya museum in Castres - © DaaéGoya museum in Castres - © DaaéDetail of Freaks nº 43, Francisco Goya et Lucientes.Goya museum - © Ville de Castres
5 previous stages
Population: 45,000
Sub-prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: Castres honey, repountsous, wool.
Economy: textile, pharmacy, technology.
Sport: Castres Olympique (rugby)
Celebrities: Jean Jaures (politician), Pierre Fabre (laboratories), Dani (singer), Roger Peyrefitte (writer), Claude Puel (football), Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud (rugby), Jacques Esclassan (rider), Maryline Salvetat (Cyclo-cross), Fabien Bourzat et Nathalie Pechalat (figure skaters).
Festivals: Les Extravadanses (July), A portée de rue (classical music, July), Couleurs du Monde (Folk dances, August)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Jardin de l'Evêché listed as a remarkable garden since 2004

Timeline

  • 647

    The Benedictine abbey of St Benedict (Saint Benoît) is founded on the site of Castres. In spite of its name recalling the Latin word for fortress (castrum), there is no evidence of a Roman camp in the area.
  • 9th century

    astres becomes an important halt on St James Way.
  • 12th century

    Castres becomes a stronghold of Catharism.
  • 1271

    Castres is included into the kingdom of France after the Treaty of Paris putting an end to the Albigensian Crusade.
  • 1317

    The town becomes a bishop see.
  • 1356

    Castres beceoms a county.
  • 1476

    King Louis XI steals the town from Duke of Nemours and hands it to Boffille de Juge, his chamberlain.
  • 16th century

    Castres becomes a stronghold of Protestantism.
  • 1685

    The revocation of the Edict of Nantes leads many Catres inhabitants into exile.
  • 1797

    The town loses his prefecture status to Albi.
  • 1860

    Fifty wool mills are installed in Castres and the city thrives thanks to textile.
Famous tower of the old abbey of Saint-Benoît in the heart of the bishopry - © RoudièreKing Henri IV stayed in Castres in 1585 © Domaine public des Etats-Unis
5 previous stages
Population: 45,000
Sub-prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: Castres honey, repountsous, wool.
Economy: textile, pharmacy, technology.
Sport: Castres Olympique (rugby)
Celebrities: Jean Jaures (politician), Pierre Fabre (laboratories), Dani (singer), Roger Peyrefitte (writer), Claude Puel (football), Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud (rugby), Jacques Esclassan (rider), Maryline Salvetat (Cyclo-cross), Fabien Bourzat et Nathalie Pechalat (figure skaters).
Festivals: Les Extravadanses (July), A portée de rue (classical music, July), Couleurs du Monde (Folk dances, August)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Jardin de l'Evêché listed as a remarkable garden since 2004

Web sites

Castres and cycling

The Criterium International  was for long at home in Castres, host of the time trials which saw  victories by Chris Boardman in 1996 and Bobby Julich in 1998. Apart from Tom Boonen, who won a Criterium stage in town, another Tour de France green jersey winner is directly bound to the city of Jean Jaures. Jacques Esclassan, who topped the points standings in 1977 and won five Tour stages, was born and still lives in Castres.

The two stage winners on the Tour in Castres were Italian Bruno Cenghialta in 191 and Spain's Amets Txurruka in 2007. But Castres has never before been the launching pad of a stage heading for the Pyrenees.

Chris Boardman, 1996 Olympic time trial, bronze medal - © Presse SportsFedrigo Pierrick & Amets Txurruka in stage 12 Montpellier-Castres on Tour de France 2007 - © Presse Sports/B.Papon
5 previous stages
Population: 45,000
Sub-prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: Castres honey, repountsous, wool.
Economy: textile, pharmacy, technology.
Sport: Castres Olympique (rugby)
Celebrities: Jean Jaures (politician), Pierre Fabre (laboratories), Dani (singer), Roger Peyrefitte (writer), Claude Puel (football), Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud (rugby), Jacques Esclassan (rider), Maryline Salvetat (Cyclo-cross), Fabien Bourzat et Nathalie Pechalat (figure skaters).
Festivals: Les Extravadanses (July), A portée de rue (classical music, July), Couleurs du Monde (Folk dances, August)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Jardin de l'Evêché listed as a remarkable garden since 2004

Web sites

Places to see

Episcopal palace and garden

In 1669, the bishop of Castres, Michel de Tuboeuf asked renowned architect Mansart to build an Episcopal palace in Castres. Today, the palace houses the town hall and a Goya Museum dedicated to Spanish painting. At the time, the palace was flanked by a small garden leading to fortifications. In 1676, the bishop demolished the rampart and a larger garden replaced the old one and is still visible today. It was designed by Le Notre, who took advantage of the irregular shape of the terrain.

 

Jean Jaures centre and museum

Created in 1959 for the centenary of Jean Jaures's birth in Castres, the museum became a national centre in 1988. It presents the life and work of one of France's most celebrated politicians and explains the major ideas and topics in French politics in the 19thand 20thcentury. The centre, owning numerous documents and manuscripts is open to researchers and historians.

 

Saint-Benoit cathedral

A listed historic monument since 1953, the St Benoit baroque cathedral is impressive by its proportions. The choir is surrounded by four marble statues of the late 17thcentury coming from the Saix convent. The cathedral was built on the site of the abbatial church founded by Benedictines in the 9thcentury and of which only the Romanesque tower remains. After the Wars of Religion destroyed two successive buildings, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1677 and 1710. For financial reasons it was never finished.

 

Old craftsmen houses

Some thirty houses on the banks of the Agout have been restored and are beautifully illuminated at night as well as the arches of the bridge nearby. In the Middle Ages, the houses were the main trade centre of Castres and houses several corporations and activities: tanning, paper mills, parchment and textile.  

Bishop’s garden - © Ville de CastresSaint-Benoît cathedral - © RoudièreMunicipal Theatre - © Ville de CastresHouses on the Agout - © Ville de Castres
5 previous stages
Population: 45,000
Sub-prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: Castres honey, repountsous, wool.
Economy: textile, pharmacy, technology.
Sport: Castres Olympique (rugby)
Celebrities: Jean Jaures (politician), Pierre Fabre (laboratories), Dani (singer), Roger Peyrefitte (writer), Claude Puel (football), Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud (rugby), Jacques Esclassan (rider), Maryline Salvetat (Cyclo-cross), Fabien Bourzat et Nathalie Pechalat (figure skaters).
Festivals: Les Extravadanses (July), A portée de rue (classical music, July), Couleurs du Monde (Folk dances, August)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Jardin de l'Evêché listed as a remarkable garden since 2004

Web sites

Jean jaures, founder of french socialism

Born in Castres on September 3, 1859, a brilliant pupil and exceptional student, Jean Jaures first worked as a philosophy teacher. A writer and journalist, he rapidly started a political career and became the youngest member of the French parliament at 26. Concerned by the economic and social problems of his time, Jaures sided with the striking miners of Carmaux in 1892. He then became the defender and spokesman of the French working class by using his writing skills and eloquence to promote social progress – freedom of unions, creation of pension funds.
 
After the famous “I accuse” column written by Emile Zola in 1898, Jaures took the defence of Jewis captain Dreyfus considering it was not an isolated case but a political cause. In 1904, he founded the L'Humanite daily to enjoy a complete freedom of speech. In 1905, after long and tense debates he managed to unify the different socialist movements under the banner of the SFIO (French Section of the Workers' International).

A strong advocate of the separation of the Church and the State, Jaures was also one of the first politicians to question France's colonial policies.
 
A convicted pacifist, he tried in vain to convince of the tragic consequences of the imminent war. He was murdered on July 31, 1914 in Paris at the Croissant café, becoming for his supporters the first victim of the Great War.

Portrait of Jean JaurèsStatue of Jean Jaurès in Castres - © Roudière
5 previous stages
Population: 45,000
Sub-prefecture of Tarn (81)
Specialities: Castres honey, repountsous, wool.
Economy: textile, pharmacy, technology.
Sport: Castres Olympique (rugby)
Celebrities: Jean Jaures (politician), Pierre Fabre (laboratories), Dani (singer), Roger Peyrefitte (writer), Claude Puel (football), Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud (rugby), Jacques Esclassan (rider), Maryline Salvetat (Cyclo-cross), Fabien Bourzat et Nathalie Pechalat (figure skaters).
Festivals: Les Extravadanses (July), A portée de rue (classical music, July), Couleurs du Monde (Folk dances, August)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Jardin de l'Evêché listed as a remarkable garden since 2004

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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