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Coche d'eau, le Miredames, à Castres
In the past, the river was the vital centre of the city of Castres. These houses have been the main place of activity of Castres inhabitants since the Middle Ages. These craftsmen houses used to foster different guilds such as tanners, dyers, parchment makers, paper makers and weavers.

Coupe des maisons sur l'Agout
 
All these houses have got medieval foundations with barrel or ribbed openings. Cellars called “caoussino” in Occitan (literally it means lime bleach plant) were open to the river and worded as washhouses. After cleansing and rinsing the skins into the Agout river, they were put in tanks full of lime. On the ground floor floor were the apartments of workers then those of the masters. However, the craftsman’s dwelling and professional activity were not systematically under the same roof. As early as Louis the Fourteenth's era, the land registers have been frequently mentioning different owners between “caoussino” and upper stories.



On the last two floors were the drying sheds, one of them higher than the living rooms proper so that the leathers wouldn’t touch the ground. These rooms have little openings which were easy to close with wooden shutters in order to protect the leather from the sun rays during summer and from the frost during winter. Under the roofs, the second drying shed was called “soleiller”, and left widely open to let the air and light in.

These houses, also called “the little Venice” have kept their corbelled structures and balconies.

Since the 1980's these houses have been rehabilited and integrated the social housing category in the process of city centre rehabilitation.

Coche d'eau, le Miredames, à Castres