We visited Castres again in January of this year, where this time I had a pleasant meander around its Goya museum. But that’s not what’s depicted in the photo. These houses in Castres’ handsome Old Town line its Agout riverbank. They’re brightly-coloured houses, with corbelled façades and basements immersed in the river, and have earned Castres the nickname of “Languedoc’s little Venice“.
The earliest houses date back to the end of 12th century and for hundred of years served as workshops for tanners, “chamoiseurs” and parchment-makers who used the water from the river to work the skins. The basements and sinks were found below, above the dryers or “soleliers,” between the two living floors. Faithfully restored, they are a photographers’ delight and provide the town with a link to centuries past. I confess I love photographs where the subject is reflected in water.