CASTRES AND LE SIDOBRE
Itineray of a native of the Tarn Département
Stroll around Castres Spanish-style
Which Spanish painter has made Castres famous? You will have the answer once you've walked around the Place Jean Jaurès and along the banks of the River Agout, with the reflections of the colourful houses. The former Bishops' Palace rises in front of you, with the famous Museum of Goya and Hispanic Art on the first floor.
The river used to be the centre of life in the town of Castres. In the middle Ages, the houses on the River Agout belonged to artisans like tanners, dyers, parchment and paper makers, and weavers, who used the waters of the river in their business.
Boarding the local river boat
To enjoy the laid-back Castres lifestyle, there's nothing better than to board a "coche d'eau", a local flat-bottomed, wooden boat typically used for travelling on the river. You glide along the River Agout beside the colourful houses to the Gourjade Park. A great half-hour walk that the children will love too.
When you get to the Gourjade Park, you can enjoy all the activities: a playground for the children, rollerskating area, golf course, picnic area... perfect for a relaxing day with the family.
The Goya Museum
Right in the heart of Castres, the Goya Museum is the local benchmark for Hispanic art. Velázquez, Zurbarán, Goya and Picasso all have their significance in different periods. From the windows there is a birds-eye view of the Bishops' garden, presenting an attractive picture: a French-style garden designed by Le Nôtre in the 17th century. This town is a real history book!
The Goya Museum is installed in one part of the former Castres Bishop's Palace, which was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles.
Visiting the Rocks of Le Sidobre
Go and tackle the Le Sidobre Rocks, 30 mins by car from Castres, and recapture your inner child as you explore the marvellous trail of wonders. Right in the heart of the Haut-Languedoc Regional Natural Park, the largest granite plateau in Europe is a geographer's paradise. Each rock has its own name and its legend: the Three Cheeses, the Goose Rock, the Peyro Clabado (Nailed Rock), the Trout's Leap, and many more. Not to mention the Blackbird Lake, for a relaxing pause by the water's edge.
The Peyro Clabado (Nailed Rock) is a block of granite weighing 780 tonnes, balancing on a smaller block barely one metre square! Impressive.
A little history
On each bank of the River Agoût, there is a mediaeval castle that has resisted the passage of time. One was Catholic, the other built by the Protestants. If you go and visit the Museum of Protestantism in Ferrières, you will find all the history of the Wars of Religion which is linked today to the history of the Tarn Département.
Dine at the Café de Paris in Brassac
After the emotions of mountains and rocks, head to Brassac for a well-deserved gastronomic stop. There's nothing Parisian about the Café de Paris hotel-restaurant! The atmosphere is cosy, unassuming and friendly. Arnaud, the Chef, and Sandrine his wife will welcome you with Tarn hospitality: smiles, attentive service, advice about the region. And on the plates? It's wonderful! You can also spend a restorative night in one of the charming bedrooms.
- By car: 1hr by road from Toulouse by the A68 motorway. 2¾hrs from Montpellier by the A75 and the D999.
- By train: 1hr journey direct from Toulouse, 3hrs from Montpellier.
- By air: from Castres Airport (link with Paris Orly-Castres Mazamet)