Today is Toussaint, or All Saint’s Day, which honors the passing of all saints. In English, the day can also be called All Hallows (which is why yesterday is called “Halloween”, from Hallow’s Eve). In France, All Saint’s Day is a national holiday and is celebrated by returning to the graves of ancestors to lay flowers on their graves and remember them.
Michel prefers to go the day before All Saint’s Day as the cemeteries are more calm and peaceful, hence our trip to Castres and the nearby villages of Realmont and Roumegoux.
On the way to Realmont, we passed through Vénès, a small collection of houses with a large chateau.
Realmont is a village close to Castres where Michel’s father’s family is from. We stopped in the cemetery first and I was surprised to find that there was a separate cemetery for Catholics and Protestants. (Nowadays everyone is buried in the same cemetery, but the smaller Protestant one still exists.)
Realmont is just your typical small French town.
But the most charming part of Realmont is the colorful windows, bringing some warmth and color into a gray day.
After Realmont we drove to Roumégoux, where Michel’s mother’s family is from. Roumégoux is more a collection of farms than a town. The church and cemetery were in the middle of fields of horses and cows.
After leaving the cemetery to head back to the highway, we were driving through the rolling fields when suddenly in the field to our right a huge flock of sheep came running over the hill in a straight line, followed by the shepherd with his two border collies. My own dog is a border collie, but I have never seen them before in action herding sheep.
It was a special sight, a vestige from the past, a France that most tourists will never see.