The culture of pastel made the wealth of Lauragais in the XNUMXth century, located in the heart of the famous " Golden Triangle » between Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne. The fortunes generated by this plant offering an indelible blue have profoundly transformed our region. Let's discover this rich and little-known heritage!


Before the XNUMXth century and the cultivation of pastel, the region was rather poor. The great forest of Saint Rome covered part of the territory and the places of settlement were scattered. Each village naturally had its own church because religion was at the heart of daily life.

But when the pastel culture becomes intense, it generates unprecedented prosperity. Some people pass from the status of simple landowners to bourgeois, to see noble when they can buy loads thanks to their fortune. They therefore want their église or in the image of their social prestige and therefore rebuild or embellish them.

  • Church of Saint Martin de Nailloux  (end of the XNUMXth century - beginning of the XNUMXth century). Inside, the Nottingham alabaster dates from the same period.
  • Bourg Saint-Bernard : (circa 1500-1534) Very beautiful exterior portal and the interior has retained its original architecture.
  • Montgeard : (1522 - 1561) Admire the tombs of the shepherd's merchants in the side chapels, the Nottingham alabaster embedded in the walls and the holy water font, brought back from Pisa by a shepherd's merchant, Jacques de Caussidières in 1516.
  • Loubens-lauragais to 1515

pastel castles

These pastoral merchants were keen to have ostentatious homes built to show their social success. Besides, it would be fairer to speak "Private hotels". These merchants have experienced a meteoric rise in the social echelon. Under the Ancien Régime, the offices, that is to say the important posts in the public service, were monetized: anyone who had money could buy an office and thanks to that, sometimes ennoble himself.

It happened that these merchants bought castles that had already existed on the territory since the Middle Ages and carried out embellishment work there.
During the French Revolution, most of these families were dispossessed or became mayors of their villages.

  • Tarabel : Built on a pre-existing 1540th century castle, the mansion was fitted out from XNUMX by Pierre de Coustous.
  • Montgeard : The mansion was built ex nihilo in 1555 by Guillaume Durand.
  • Monestrol : In the basement of the castle, hides a tiled tank for making agranat.
  • Loubens-lauragais : Built on a fortified castle whose origin we do not know, it was in the XNUMXth century that the lord of the village, Jacques de Loubens, embellished his property. In the park, you will be able to see an old pastel mill which now serves as a fountain.


The expansion of this trade took place in the second half of the XNUMXth century. From its symbolic aspect - it is the color of the mantle of the Virgin Mary - many are the nobles and bourgeois who want to own a garment of this precious blue.

The cocagne was bagged and on each of them, there was the “logo” of the pastel merchant who shipped them. It was a dyer who took care of assembling the tank.

Certain places in Lauragais are clearly cited as a reference point for being the hub of the pastel trade. The Toulouse merchants come to look for it on the stalls, to then ship the product throughout Europe (Spain-England-Italy-Netherlands):

  • Avignonet Lauragais : unmissable shopping town from the XNUMXth century, renowned above all for its sheets and fabrics. Pastels and other materials for dyeing are sold there
  • Villefranche-de-Lauragais : Located near the only stony path of Lauragais (the Aquitaine route), this town is a “collecting center”. These local collectors travel the Lauragais countryside from farm to farm, in order to buy the produce and sell it at the Villefranche market.
  • Caraman : place of sale attested from 1515.

Did you know?

In the past, pastel vats were used to paint joinery, carts and ox horns. Indeed, pastel has fungicidal and insecticidal properties.

Today, many houses and farms in the south of Toulouse have retained this tradition of painting the shutters in this blue color. On a brick background, it's the most beautiful effect!


Dovecote in Monestrol : built during the second half of the XNUMXth century by the Durands, a wealthy family of pastoral merchants from Montgeard.

Pasteliers have all disappeared today, but in historical texts, they often appear in dozens of the same city in the 15th century. These testimonies let us imagine that the activity linked to pastel was preponderant! Montesquieu Lauragais counted XNUMX, Bourg Saint Bernard about twenty ...