A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 10 November 2008


It was only 15 km from Boissezon to the old textile town of Castres, which I reached at 1 pm on Sunday 21 September. It was one of the biggest towns I'd been to for a while. And it was yet another very hot day. I walked by the important pilgrim church of Saint-Jacques-de-Villegoudou (Villa of the Goths). It was locked, so I couldn't seek out the many representations of Saint James (paintings, stained glass windows, a polychrome statue) inside, as I'd wanted to. I took this picture of the church exterior instead:

But, after leaving my rucksack in the very helpful Office de Tourisme, I was able to enter the Cathedral of Saint-Benoît, The Bishop's Palace and the Jean Jaurès Museum. (Jean Jaurès was a great French socialist thinker, social democrat, anti-militarist politician, party leader and reformer - born in Castres in 1859, and tragically assassinated in 1914 at the outbreak of WW1.)

Castres is a fascinating place. This photo shows some restored medieval houses of tanners, weavers and dyers on the bank of the Agoût river:

And this was taken from one of the windows in the Bishop's Palace:

I was surprised to find, inside the Bishop's Palace, the Goya Museum - the most important collection of Spanish paintings in France. The astonishing highlight of this unique collection was a dimly-lit room dedicated to displaying 4 series of extraordinary engravings by Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), one of the greatest Spanish painters. But more of Goya later...

When I returned to to the tourist office at 5 pm, the girl there had managed to find me some cheap lodgings for the night with Daniel Sidot, who'd converted one room of his terraced house into a pilgrim dormitory. He was a keen pilgrim himself, and had previously walked to Compostela as I had. He kindly walked with me through the suburbs of Castres the next morning and put me on the right road. This is a photo of Daniel:

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