Situated on the banks of the Agoût river, Castres is a city with a preserved environment, where historical and sporting traditions are mixed. Labelled as a City of Art and History in 2022, the city of Castres has a rich past from which it has retained a strong cultural, architectural and economic identity. But Castres is also a land of sports, especially thanks to its famous rugby club: the Castres Olympique. With JOOKS, discover the little Venice of the South thanks to the sports and tourist routes proposed by the city.
Stage of the roads to Santiago de Compostela since the 9th century, the city of Castres knows an important economic development in the 13th century, with the discovery of the pastel in the region. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was very much affected by the Wars of Religion and underwent numerous destructions.
It found a new lease of life when it became the seat of the House of Edict and from then on, it experienced a great cultural and economic boom. Today, Castres is a cultural, dynamic, modern and multi-faceted city that attracts many visitors every year.
Castres and history
Witnesses of the city's textile past, the houses on the Agoût river give the city its charm and are at the origin of its nickname: the little Venice of Languedoc. These old workshops of weavers, tanners and other dyers in pastel colors are still visible today. They cannot be visited because they are inhabited, but you can admire them during your walk or during a ride on the water coach "Le Miredames", a wooden boat built on the model of the river stagecoaches of the 19th century.
In the 17th century, the growth of trade allowed the city to become richer and wealthy merchants built magnificent private mansions. While strolling in the city center, you can discover the remarkable architecture of the Viviès hotel or the Nayrac hotel, both classified as historical monuments. Take the time to admire the corbelled corner turrets of the Jean Leroy hotel or the caryatids and the loggia of the Poncet hotel and have fun trying to discover the unusual details of these sublime residences.
It is impossible to visit Castres without mentioning Jean Jaurès, the local celebrity. The father of French socialism was indeed born in Castres in 1859. It is therefore logical that his name is omnipresent in the streets of the city and that a museum is dedicated to him. The Jean Jaurès National Center and Museum was inaugurated in 1988 by François Mitterand and retraces in a chronological manner the life, work and political commitments of the tribune.
The cultural and religious heritage of the city is perfectly illustrated by the former episcopal palace. Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis XIV's architect, the building now houses the city hall and the Goya Museum. The latter, created in 1840, has the largest French collection of Hispanic art, after the Louvre. It includes, among others, works by Velasquez, Murillo, Picasso and especially Francisco Goya, of which the museum owns three fundamental paintings: Self-portrait with glasses, Portrait of Francisco del Mazo and The Junta of the Philippines.
Castres and sports
If the landscapes of the Tarn invite you to go for a walk or a bike ride, the king sport in Castres is rugby. The city's club, the Castres Olympique, was created in 1906 and currently plays in the Top 14. Based at the Pierre Fabre stadium, named after its patron, the founder of the eponymous pharmaceutical laboratories, the Castres Olympique has been five times French champion, three times French vice-champion and winner of the French Cup. The La Sportive route will take you in the footsteps of the players and their training circuit.
Castres is also strongly linked to cycling. It has indeed been the starting and finishing city of the Tour de France several times and is also a stage city of the Route d'Occitanie. This cycling race was created on the initiative of the professional rider Jacques Esclassan, a native of Castres, who won the first edition in 1977.
Castres and nature
Located between the Haut-Languedoc Natural Park and the Cambounet-sur-le-Sor Regional Nature Reserve, crossed by the Agoût River and its tributaries, and awarded the "3 flowers" label by the Villes et Villages fleuris (Cities and Villages in bloom), Castres has a privileged natural environment. Numerous green spaces are available for walkers and are a delight for young and old alike.
A real green lung of the city, the Gourjade park is dedicated to relaxation and leisure and offers many activities: playground, golf, mini-farm... Prehistoric remains present in the park testify to the presence of man in the region since the Neolithic period. The Jardin du Mail is a beautiful English garden, while the Jardin de l'Évêché, attached to the episcopal palace, is a so-called "French garden", which was designed according to the plans of André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV's gardener. It was classified as a historical monument in 1995 and awarded the "Remarkable Garden" label in 2004.
Find all the routes in the city of Castres on the JOOKS application.
Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS, from the Goya Museum to the banks of the Agoût river!