Transcript for Episode 441: Jean Jaurès and his Birthplace, Castres

Categories: French History, Toulouse Area

[00:00:16] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 441 – quatre cent quarante-et-un.

[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.

Today on the Podcast

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about Jean Jaurès, and the city of Castres where he was born.

The Magazine Part of the Podcast: Superhosts

[00:00:47] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, today I will go into Superhosts on Airbnb. What’s a Superhost anyway? How do you get to be a Superhost? How can that title of Superhost be turned into a profitable business in France and all over the world really?

Podcast Supporters

[00:01:06] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at my boutique

[00:01:24] Annie Sargent: Somebody left this review of my Latin Quarter tour this week. Whoever it is said: “Hugely enjoyed this tour and took two afternoons to complete, still lots of places to return to as well. The amphitheater was a surprise and it was great to find out so many interesting facts about Paris. I would highly recommend doing this tour and others too. A great way to get around the city on foot and finding places you’d probably walk past otherwise”.

[00:01:56] Annie Sargent: Thank you very much, anonymous reviewer.

The France Bootcamp

[00:01:58] Annie Sargent: The France Bootcamp is going to start six days from today. Woohoo. I so look forward to meeting all the bootcamp members. I have all my ducks in a row. It took an enormous amount of work. Now if I can just get L’Entrecôte, the restaurant, to call me back to make sure we have a table for our big group for our farewell dinner, I will be very happy and all will be well with the world.


Annie and Elyse about Jean Jaurès and Castres

[00:02:37] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse.

[00:02:38] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Annie.

[00:02:39] Annie Sargent: We have a great topic today, as always. We’re going to talk about the city of Castres and mostly about Jean Jaurès.

City of Castres

[00:02:46] Annie Sargent: But we want to talk about the city first, because it’s a really adorable little city that doesn’t get mentioned very much. We haven’t done another episode about it, and we’ve both been there recently, so I think it would be great to start with the city.

[00:02:59] Annie Sargent: You were there just even more recently than me. What did you think?

[00:03:02] Elyse Rivin: Well, I thought it was charming and that in spite of the fact that I was there during the Christmas break and so there were a lot of things that were actually closed, whichis what happens when you get to small cities outside the tourist areas, but Castres is, surprisingly, a charming, wonderful little place to visit. And it’s certainly a place that’s worth a good half a day, if nothing else, as a place to walk around, then visit the Jean Jaurès Museum, which is a very interesting place to see. Have something to eat, but not where I ate, where you ate probably.

[00:03:37] Annie Sargent: Yes. I will tell you in a minute.

[00:03:39] Elyse Rivin: And enjoy the fact that it has a very beautiful old medieval and 17th, 18th century city center and has this lovely river, the Agout, which runs right through the middle of the city.

The Goya Museum

[00:03:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s a cute town and if you’re going to be going and visit the museums, there are two museums that are worth going to there. You have the Jean Jaurès Museum, which is open and has been open for a long time. And the Goya Museum, which I haven’t seen, and it’s closed right now and we have no idea when it’s going to re-open.

[00:04:12] Elyse Rivin: Yes. Unfortunately, the Goya Museum is a museum I’ve actually been to several times, although not in the very recent past.

[00:04:20] Elyse Rivin: It’s in a beautiful, old 17th century building that was part of the Bishop’s palace, for a long time. And the reason it’s called the Goya Museum, Goya, of course, was a Spanish painter who lived at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. And you can wonder why, even me, I was like, why is there a Goya museum in Castres, which is in the Tarn department, which is Northeast or East of Toulouse?

[00:04:48] Elyse Rivin: And it is because it was a legacy of a rich woman who had a huge collection of Goya prints and drawings, prints meaning engravings and two series that are very famous by Goya. And she was from Castres. And when she died, she left all of her collection to the city, and they named the museum in honor of Goya, who’s a very famous painter, even though that is probably what attracts a lot of people, but there are lots of other paintings in the museum. It’s actually a great small art museum.

The Jean Jaurès Museum

[00:05:21] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. And the Jaurès Museum I thought was adorable as well. It’s kind of a creaky old museum, but it has a decent recap of the life of Jean Jaurès. Lots of photography mostly, and some busts and things like that, but it’s the type of museum where you have to do a fair bit of reading otherwise you don’t get much out of it. I’m pretty sure the displays were in both French and English. Do you remember?

[00:05:46] Elyse Rivin: You know, that’s an interesting question. I was just thinking about this morning coming over, I can’t remember because since I read in French, I don’t remember now whether it was also in English or not.

[00:05:56] Annie Sargent: I think it was big in French and small in English.

[00:06:00] Elyse Rivin: It’s very possible. The building itself though, to my surprise, is modern. It’s a building that I guess was an old building that they renovated. It was inaugurated by Mitterrand when he was president, which means it was inaugurated in the 1980s as a museum.

[00:06:14] Elyse Rivin: There was an old creaky one, really creaky that was there before. And it’s very interesting because down below they have a space that they use for temporary exhibits, and the rest of it, which is the second and third floors, are really devoted to the life and the works of Jean Jaurès, who is of course the native son that is the most famous coming out of the city of Castres.

La Part Des Anges Restaurant

[00:06:37] Annie Sargent: Right, right. And to just briefly mention the food thing, so you had lunch somewhere, some trattoria or something Italian? And it wasn’t any good. Okay. But apparently, you had limited choices because a lot of restaurants were closed because it was during, you know, between Christmas and New Year.

[00:06:55] Annie Sargent: And so in small places like that, don’t expect everything to be, you know, as soon as Christmas is over, people close down and they take some time off.

[00:07:04] Elyse Rivin: They go away, too.

[00:07:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. I went with Jennifer. Hello Jennifer, I’m sure she’s going to be listening to this, and we had lunch at a place called La Part Des Anges

[00:07:16] Annie Sargent: And it was a lovely little restaurant, nice service, it’s not a super fast restaurant. You know, an hour and a half perhaps, and it’s the kind of place that you should reserve a day or two in advance. I reserved on The Fork, and I recommend you do that as well because it makes it so easy to both book and cancel if you have to. We really had a good time at La Part Des Anges so I recommend that one. And walking around the town is just, it’s a small, little medieval city center, but it’s adorable.

Markets in Castres

[00:07:46] Annie Sargent: And also I would like to mention thatMeredith on the episode about Lautrec, which was, I can’t remember, not that long ago, just a few weeks ago, mentioned that she really loves the Thursday organic market that they have in Castres.

[00:08:02] Annie Sargent: And just like most French cities, they have markets on different days of the year, but the Thursday one, so it’s Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

[00:08:14] Elyse Rivin: That’s a lot of markets.

[00:08:15] Annie Sargent: Yes. And it’s morning 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM. And it’s on Place Jean-Jaurès.

[00:08:21] Annie Sargent: The big square, yes. On Thursday it is an organic market, perhaps exclusively, I’m not sure. You know, these days, markets in France are doing more and more of what they call Marché des Producteurs.

Circuit Court Market

[00:08:34] Annie Sargent: So that means locally-sourced, it means that it’s the local farmers that are bringing, they also call it Circuit Court, which means short circuit, but it has nothing to do with electricity.

[00:08:46] Annie Sargent: It just means that the food doesn’t go from hand to hand to hand to hand, right?

[00:08:49] Elyse Rivin: And it’s coming from nearby.

[00:08:51] Annie Sargent: Exactly, it’s nearby and it’s directly from the person who produced it or perhaps one step removed or something, but not a lot of hands. And they also have on Wednesday morning, they have a market on Place de Lameilhé.

[00:09:05] Annie Sargent: So anyway, when you’re ready to go check on the markets, because they have markets most days because, you know, it’s a 50,000 population city. So there’s quite a bit, you you know.

[00:09:14] Annie Sargent: 43 thou. 43 thou. oh, there you go. 43 thou. In fact, interestingly enough, it’s called the Little Venice of the Southwest because it has the river, the Agout, and then another river called the Dadou, which is kind of cute, which both run through the city, but also something I found out yesterday going online.

A Town of Art and History.

[00:09:33] Elyse Rivin: This year, that is this past year 2022, it has been labeled a Town of Art and History. So it is coming up in the world in terms of its reputation for things to look at and do when you go there. And it’s really got, it’s very clean the old medieval city center, it’s got lots of flower boxes now and a lot of things.

[00:09:54] Elyse Rivin: It’s very pretty. I was there on a very sunny day. It was really nice to see the reflection of the water as you walk along, you can walk along the river on both sides, and you see the old buildings and how they come out. You really get a sense of why it’s called the Little Venice of the Southwest.

[00:10:09] Annie Sargent: It’s an adorable little town, really. If you’re in the area, you should stop there and perhaps one overnight or something. And it’s not a place where you should stay for weeks, but if you’re going to go to Lautrec, for instance, it’s not very far from Albi.

Castres surroundings

[00:10:23] Elyse Rivin: It’s 42 kilometers from Albi, which is very close. It’s 72 kilometers, but a little bit of windy road, it’s not big highway, which means the 72 kilometers from Toulouse is pretty much an hour’s drive. But it’s a lovely drive because you go up into the hills. Because Castres is a city that’s very close to the beginning of what are called the Black Mountains and a region that has a lot of forests called The Sidobre which is a great place to go walking and climbing.

[00:10:50] Elyse Rivin: And it’s a great place to go if you have family and kids who are old enough to scramble up rocks.

[00:10:56] Annie Sargent: Right, the Sidobre isfamous for scramble. You climb on the rocks, kids love it.

[00:11:00] Elyse Rivin: It’s a place where nothing is forbidden except you have to be careful because it can get a little bit slippery.

The famous child of Castres

[00:11:05] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. So now let’s talk about the famousChild of Castres.

[00:11:10] Annie Sargent: A man. I mean, you can not find well, perhaps this is a dare, can you find any place in France that does not have some building or road or place named after Jean Jaurès, even a small place? I would bet that they do.

[00:11:28] Elyse Rivin: I would venture to say you’re right.

[00:11:29] Elyse Rivin: Just as an idea, I looked this up because I really wanted to see there are 320 elementary schools named after him. There are 53 high schools named after him. There is probably, as you say, not a town aside from tiny villages, that does not have a street or a square named after him. You have at least two cities, Marseilles and Toulouse, that have a metro stop and a huge avenue named after him.

[00:11:55] Elyse Rivin: And of course, he is in the Pantheon. He is really considered to be a hero and a great statesman, and part of the central history of France.

[00:12:07] Annie Sargent: Right, and for that alone, we of course needed to talk about him.

[00:12:11] Annie Sargent: So to put him into context, because French history is not something that most visitors know all that much about. And that’s fine, but at least know why this guy’s name keeps coming back again and again and again, right?

[00:12:25] Elyse Rivin: That is right. And I have to say, I knew some stuff about him, but having gone to the museum and really spending enough time to read most of what was in it, and then going back, looking at the pamphlets and going back online, I have come to admire him even more and know a lot more about him, in fact, you know?

[00:12:45] Annie Sargent: Right. So growing up in Toulouse, I grew up on Avenue Léon Blum, which intersects with Jean Jaurès and they were both greats of, although Léon Blum is not as famous as Jean Jaurès, but in Toulouse is huge, and you’ll see, I’m sure that’ll come up why as well. I think he wrote over 2000 articles for La Dépêche du Midi which is the local newspaper.

[00:13:07] Elyse Rivin: Honestly, don’t know how many he wrote, but it turns out that between writing for the Dépêche, writing for another newspaper called La Petite République, and then the newspaper that he created called l’Humanité, which still exists and has changed.

[00:13:22] Elyse Rivin: I mean, it’s changed since he created it, but it’s interesting that besides being a politician, a statesman, having a PhD in philosophywith a specialty in 18th and 19th century German philosophers, he was perfectly fluent in German. He was an incredibly prolific writter.

[00:13:40] Annie Sargent: Right, he wrote books and he wrote lots and lots of articles, and orator as well. He wrote a lot of speeches. But I’ll let you take it away, Elyse.

[00:13:48] Elyse Rivin: Well, so Jean Jaurès, I don’t even have written down all his other names, but let’s just, because he had lots of them. He came from a nice upper-middle class family. He was born in 1859 in Castres. That’s just why we have been talking about Castres, obviously. And this put Castres really on the map anyway. He was interestingly fromkind of upper-class, middle family. But what happened, he could have gone on just to be a typical middle-class person with a nice career and something. We’re talking about a time when education is still not free for everybody in France.

Jean Jaurès was brilliant at the age of 10

[00:14:25] Elyse Rivin: And so you had to have come from a privileged background to go through more than just two, three years of school and have a little bit of literacy. And it turns out that he has a brother and I believe he had a sister as well. But at the age of 10, he was going to a religious school, but at the age of 10, they noticed that he was brilliant.

[00:14:44] Elyse Rivin: You know, I have a step grandson who’s 11. I have to say that the idea that at the age of 10 adults can decide that a child is brilliant, you have to really be outstanding to be noticed in that way, I think.

[00:14:58] Elyse Rivin: Well there are a lot of parents who think their kids are brilliant, but it has to be somebody beside your parents that thinks you’re brilliant.

[00:15:04] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. No, you’re right. Because grandparents always think their grandchildren are the best and the most in innovative and whatever, butso because he was considered to be so brilliant, he was given a scholarship,at a time when even going to high school was considered to be really something only for a certain select part of the population. And so he was given the chance to go to school. And because the people who sponsored him thought that he was brilliant, they convinced his parents that he should not, he was supposed to be, he was apparently destined, it kind of made me laugh, to go to work for the postal service, which sounds like one of the most boring things you could possibly do with your life, in any event.

[00:15:45] Annie Sargent: Yetvery helpful, very useful.

[00:15:47] Elyse Rivin: Especially now that they’re eliminated stamps completely from French postal service.

[00:15:53] Annie Sargent: That’s not quite right. That’s not quite right.

Sent to Paris to continue the studies, Louis-le-Grand

[00:15:56] Elyse Rivin: They’re trying to computerize the services. In any event,he is sent to Paris where he continues his schooling and he goes into what basically is a kind of preparatory class so that he can go into one of the more prestigious high schools in Paris, and he is so brilliant, he is number one in his class in just about everything.

[00:16:20] Annie Sargent: And he went to Louis-le-Grand.

[00:16:21] Elyse Rivin: He went to Louis-le-Grand which I have to say, even though you would never know it, that’s where my husband went, you know.

[00:16:27] Annie Sargent: Well, there you go. Fancy, fancy, fancy. It’s the high school that is in a magnificent building that’s just behind the Pantheon.

[00:16:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Right by the Pantheon, if you walk my tour, you’ll walk by. I think I mentioned it I didn’t mention your husband,no, it wouldn’t make a difference, to be honest.

[00:16:42] Elyse Rivin: No.

[00:16:43] Annie Sargent: I knew your husband had gone, but I failed to mention him in my walking tour.

[00:16:46] Annie Sargent: I’m sorry to say, but I mentioned a few people, you know, like this is where Macron went for high school, this is where a lot of famous French people go for high school. He was so brilliant even in high school, that he gave a public speech at the age of 16 in front of the local Prefet and the government,the local Parisian government. And so his career, even as an orator, began really young.

[00:17:10] Annie Sargent: He was apparently a firebrand. He was brilliant. He was brilliant in his way of speaking. He was putting ideas together that people hadn’t really thought about, and he chose to study. Interestingly enough, Jean Jaurès decided to major in philosophy, which is interesting considering what happened in his career later on.

Philosophy major

[00:17:29] Elyse Rivin: So in high school and then at the university, he was in fact a philosophy major and specialized, as I mentioned, in German philosophers. I’m not big on philosophy, I really don’t know very much about them, but what I do know is that he really concentrated on philosophers of the 18th and 19th century who really talked about the material world and things that had very little to do with spirituality. His thing was not spirituality, his thing was relating to the life that people live basically.

[00:18:03] Annie Sargent: Things people can see and touch.

[00:18:05] Elyse Rivin: Exactly.

[00:18:05] Annie Sargent: It makes sense to me because up until very recently, in French high school you had two tracks. You were either going to do math and science, or philosophy and languages. These were the two tracks. And so it makes sense to that he had to pick one of the two. And even to this day for French high school, you have to take a philosophy test.

[00:18:27] Annie Sargent: Part of the exam to finish up high school is philosophy. So it’s always been big in France.

[00:18:32] Elyse Rivin: You are absolutely right. It’s very big in France. I honestly have no idea if it’s big in any other country besides Germany, where apparently it is also very big. He immediately gets a job teaching in Albi, first as a high school philosophy professor, and then at the age of 23, he gets hired to teach as a professor at the University of Toulouse.

[00:18:53] Elyse Rivin: Which is extraordinary. I mean, 23, come on. That’s amazing.

[00:18:57] Annie Sargent: Right, and he eventually of course gets his doctorate, because at this point he hasn’t yet finished his doctorate.

Political Career

[00:19:03] Annie Sargent: And then in 1885, so in 1885, he is not quite 26 years old, and he gets elected as a deputy. Now this is where you need to help me Annie, because I have to confess that I still have a very hard time understanding the difference between the two chambers in France. Okay. Deputies are like senators, is that correct?

[00:19:24] Annie Sargent: No. It’s the opposite.

[00:19:25] Annie Sargent: Deputies are representatives. So they’re elected in their region, but well, okay, in the Fifth Republic, we’re not talking Fifth Republic, Third Republic, okay. So things were different, I’m sure. But today you are elected in your department, but you represent all French people.

[00:19:46] Annie Sargent: So you vote on laws for all French people. You just, you know, you bring the local flavor because in America you have state representatives and you have federal representatives. And it’s the same with Senate. In France, we only have the federal if you want to, you know, so it’s a representative.

[00:20:06] Annie Sargent: He was elected in the Chamber of Representatives. And that means he was elected because senators, and I’m pretty sure that was the case already then, senators are not elected directly, even to this day in France. We don’t vote for senator.

[00:20:21] Annie Sargent: It’s all the elected officials, including mayors, counselors, people like that. They vote for the senators. We don’t. It’s different.

[00:20:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah. That’s how it works.

[00:20:30] Elyse Rivin: Okay, so in any event, he starts becoming famous already in 1885, being the youngest deputy in the country, and he represents Castres and the region around Castres at the time he’s voted in.

Becomes Interested in Social Issues

[00:20:43] Elyse Rivin: And in the process of whatever happens in his thinking and the people he meets in these very beginning of the 1880s, he starts to have political ideas and he starts to be interested more and more in politics, not just in philosophy.

[00:20:58] Elyse Rivin: It’s interesting to know that his family, having had an uncle who was a vice admiral and his family is relatively conservative and very Catholic, his ideas become more and more secular and more and more humanist and definitely not religious.

[00:21:13] Elyse Rivin: And he starts being interested in basically what was at the timemore social issues, and the beginning of what becomes eventually what is called the Socialist Party.

[00:21:24] Elyse Rivin: And one of the reasons why is because very close to Castres, there were mines. There’s a town named Carmaux, which was famous until the recent past in the 20th century as being a town that had mines. It had coal mines, and it also apparently had glass companies that were using the coal to heat, because you need to have a lot of heat, of course, to make glass. So there were not just hundreds, but there were actually several thousand workers that were working under what were terrible conditions.

[00:21:56] Elyse Rivin: And miners still work in many places in terrible conditions. And in his contact with people, because obviously he was someone who had a contact with people all over the place and talked to people all the time, he became very sensitive to the situation of the conditions of these workers.

[00:22:13] Elyse Rivin: And so his politics, which apparently, really scandalized his family, moved more and more to what we would now call the left. Being that he defended workers there, he wanted to make their working conditions better. And since he was a brilliant orator, my guess is, I mean, it would be interesting and sadly, I don’t think it exists to have a recording, maybe there’s a recording left of him at the very beginning of the 20th century. I have no idea.

[00:22:41] Elyse Rivin: It would be interesting to hear him. Because he must have really incited the people who listened to him. He was apparently so brilliant when he spoke. So what happened was he started writing articles, as you mentioned, he started writing articles for La Dépêche Toulouse, which is a newspaper that still exists and was begun in the 1880s in Toulouse as a kind of socialist newspaper that really paid attention to issues that involved workers and things like that.

Lost his position as deputy

[00:23:09] Elyse Rivin: And he went on, he lost his position as a deputy.

[00:23:13] Elyse Rivin: Here again, I have to ask you how many years? I don’t even know. Is it two years, three years, or four years?

Member of the government of Toulouse

[00:23:19] Annie Sargent: I don’t know that, especially not in the Third Republic. But it’s true that he lost his bid for reelection, but then he ran in Toulouse instead.

[00:23:27] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:23:28] Elyse Rivin: And so he became a member of the government of Toulouse. He was an adjunct mayor. He was a member of the city council. And in this period, which is in the beginning of the 1890s, hewrites for the Dépêche, he creates this other newspaper of his own with one of the other people responsible for the movement to create a free and secular education system in France.

[00:23:51] Annie Sargent: And again, it’s impossible to find a city of any size that does not have a Jules Ferry Boulevard, plus school, something, he’s huge. And we might do an episode about him at some point as well.

[00:24:05] Elyse Rivin: This was a time when there was a group of obviously at this point, only men, but young men who were very dynamic, who were very interested in changing things socially and creating better conditions for a lot of people.

[00:24:17] Elyse Rivin: This has come after a, you know, the 19th century was a lot of turmoil in France with changes of regime so many times. And so this is the period that is actually what is still called, in history, The Third Republic, right? In the 1890s there is a period of time of four, five years where most of the workers in the mines in Carmaux and then in Albi go out on strike.

[00:24:41] Elyse Rivin: And Jaurès, who has been reelected to Parliament, winds up being the spokesperson for all of these miners and for these workers.

His ideas

[00:24:52] Elyse Rivin: And there are two or three things that are really important to know about him. One is that he was an absolute a hundred percent pacifist. He did not believe in army and he did not believe in going to war. He thought that there was always a solution and a way of working things out so that countries no longer had to go to war. He believed that there should not be a death penalty.

[00:25:14] Elyse Rivin: He did not think that there should be a militaristic government. He really believed in working to help workers’ conditions, that is people who did menial difficult jobs to make their lives easier. Also to guarantee them a halfway decent salary and provide them with help in case they were sick or in case that they were wounded.

[00:25:35] Elyse Rivin: And the other thirdidea that was extremely important to him was the idea that the world can only be improved by having everybody become educated. And in the 1880s and 1890s, it was still not the case that education was free for everyone, and now I’m not just saying just for boys or young men, but for everyone.

[00:25:57] Elyse Rivin: It was only the case that if you had a possibility of going to school, maybe you went to school for two, three years. But the idea that up until the age of even the end of primary school, sixth grade, that everything was available to everyone. This was an idea that was being floated around, but was not yet in place.

[00:26:16] Elyse Rivin: All of these things were part of what he talked about, part of what he wrote about. So all this time, he was a deputy all through the 1890s into the very beginning of the very first years of the 20th century. He spoke, he wrote, he came to defense of all of these people who had very menial jobs, the miners particularly who were devoted to him.

The Dreyfus affair

[00:26:40] Elyse Rivin: And interestingly enough, I was reading about this yesterday, in 1898 he spoke out and wrote about the Dreyfus affair, which we’ve mentioned, I don’t know if we’ve ever really done a total podcast about it.

[00:26:52] Annie Sargent: We have not, we should.

[00:26:53] Elyse Rivin: We really should.

[00:26:54] Annie Sargent: Again, another one we should do.

[00:26:55] Elyse Rivin: Right, but what I found interesting was, two of the articles I read talked about how the reason he decided to defend Dreyfus had nothing to do with what was at the time a virulent form of antisemitism, which made Dreyfus the target of both some falsehoods and campaigns that were terrible in terms of what they wrote about him and about the fact that because he was from Alsace and was Jewish, he was obviously someone who was the enemy and a spy.

[00:27:24] Elyse Rivin: It turns out that Jaurès at first, really believed that he was guilty. But it was because Jaurès believed in the due process of law, and when he discovered that papers had been falsified, that was when he decided to take on the defense of Dreyfus. So it had nothing to do with the man himself, it had to do withJaurès’s idea of what fairness was in terms of law and government. And this was basically one of the basic principles that he used all his life.

[00:27:53] Elyse Rivin: At the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, his activism led him to be one of the people to create what became the French Socialist Party.

[00:28:03] Elyse Rivin: Now, this is a part of the history, at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, there are anarchists, that’s a whole other ball of wax, what anarchism is.

Anti-communist and anti-anarchist.

[00:28:13] Elyse Rivin: There was the beginning of what has come to be known as communist movement. And there were many different versions of what was considered and what is still considered to be socialism, which means the government helping people.

[00:28:26] Elyse Rivin: And Jaurès moved basically from one idea to the other, but was very muchanti-communist and anti-anarchist. He really believed in government being just and for the people. And so he became friends with and then basically disassociated himself from a whole group of people who are known in the history of France for being part of the political scene at this time.

[00:28:50] Elyse Rivin: But because he was an adamant pacifist and because he no longer believed in the death penalty, he started to have a lot of enemies, interestingly enough. And this was the time also, and one of the things I saw at the museum, I don’t know if you remember, is that there were hundreds, if not thousands of nasty cartoons and caricatures made of him. He became the target of these smear campaigns. And when you look at what he defended, there’s nothing strange or weird about what he defended. He defended things that had to do with justice for people to be treated better, for people to have a better chance of education.

[00:29:32] Elyse Rivin: But because it was against the reactionary Catholic Church, because it was against the reactionary factions in the government, he created many, many enemies.

[00:29:42] Annie Sargent: Well, there were a lot of rich people who weren’t so happy about needing to share the wealth as equally as was ideal.

[00:29:49] Annie Sargent: If you go up against rich people, eventually you’re going to make enemies.

The law of the separation of Church and State

[00:29:53] Elyse Rivin: Yes, indeed. And so in 1905, one of the most significant things that happened was that he participated in the writing of the law that is still in place in France. That is the law of the Separation of Church and State.

[00:30:08] Elyse Rivin: This is a concept that is very pertinent today that is still debated in lots of ways by lots of people, and it was at this time that he started to speak out very adamantly against the death penalty, and against the development of a very huge military force and a force that would be used to attack. He said that it was perfectly okay to defend oneself. It’s very interesting. It’s kind of like the Swiss idea, I think.

[00:30:36] Elyse Rivin: I know that they have a standing army in Switzerland, even though they’re neutral, everybody has the right to have a rifle to defend themselves, but they don’t make people participate in sort of active aggressive actions.

[00:30:49] Elyse Rivin: So what happened was he wrote articles that spoke out about the growing militarism of the government and warmongering. This was at a time when things started to heat up in Europe, unfortunately. The beginning of the 20th century saw the animosity between Germany and France start growing again.

[00:31:07] Elyse Rivin: There were problems in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I think that it sounds like Jaurès sensed that the world in Europe anyway was headed towards more war which had basically been the case up until the 1870s. And so he wrote more and more articles and he came out in 1913 against a law called The Three Year Law, which was a law that was put forth in Parliament requiring three years of mandatory military service for everyone in France.

[00:31:39] Elyse Rivin: And he spent a lot of time writing articles and making speeches all over. And he got, he had a backing, you know, the workers and the people who belonged to the socialist party really believed in his ideas and his actions.

[00:31:53] Elyse Rivin: But he made too many enemies.

[00:31:56] Annie Sargent: Well, and also he was going against the grain in many ways. Obviously, it’s all well and fine to say you’re against war when you don’t have anybody threatening at your borders. But as we saw with the question of Russia invading Ukraine, you know, those are the days when you’re like, oh yeah, we do need a military, a good, strong one. Because there are bullies in the world and you have to stand up to them or you get invaded. And so he was going against the grain. I don’t think he was right in everything he advocated for. To advocate for peace when everybody else is going towards war is just making yourselfan easy target. And unfortunately, that’s what happened to him.

[00:32:40] Elyse Rivin: That’s so exactly what happened.

[00:32:41] Elyse Rivin: And what happened was, basically, of course, that was by 1913, there was this realization that there was going to be a war. And of course, there was the assassination of the Archduke, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by a Serb. And France had signed an alliance,a pact with Russia, that if there was a war and there was a war between Russia and Germany or the middle part of Europe basically, this is the pacts that are still made to this day, this is what we have with the European Community as well, that France would join in war. And when the Archduke was assassinated, this is when the rumbling started and it was very clear that there was going to be war. And Jaurès organized a huge march that had thousands of people, that was basically a march against the idea of going into war.

[00:33:31] Elyse Rivin: Now, it’s true also that he didn’t believe that you shouldn’t have defensive capacity, in other words, you should have arms. But I think a lot of it also had to do with the fact, unfortunately, was that he was a germanophile. Remember? He had a PhD in philosophy that was basically based on German thinkers, very important German philosophers, and he had a lot of friends who were part of the German Socialist Party, because he really believed in a more international approach to dealing with things.

In 1914 Jaurès is assasinated

[00:33:59] Elyse Rivin: And so, as you have hinted of course, in 1914 on the 31st of July, he was about to go to write an article for his newspaper, the l’Humanité. And he and a group of friends went to dinner in a cafe called The Croissant. Would you believe that? Right near the office.

[00:34:19] Elyse Rivin: And a man named Raoul Villain, interestingly that was his last name, which of course means villain, who was apparently someone who was mentally disturbed, but also was someone who hated Jaurès’ politics. He actually came up to the window of the cafeand shot him in the head twice, right through the window and he died.

[00:34:43] Elyse Rivin: I mean, they thought they would try to see if they could save him, but within two hours they realized that there was no chance, he was shot directly in the head.

World War I

[00:34:51] Elyse Rivin: And three days later, World War I began.

[00:34:55] Annie Sargent: Yep. So in a way, it was the end of an era of people who had very high ideals against suffering, against inequalities, against war. But unfortunately, ideals can’t do much against militaristic and also very… I mean, people were just hateful, a lot of the population were hateful. If you read what was said about Jews, about anybody who was different, there was a lot of people were very intolerant. He was the end of the hope, the optimistic era when progress was going to make the world a better place for all and all of that.

[00:35:40] Annie Sargent: And in some ways, we got back to that. And we’re in a phase like that today, except that, you know, Russia and Ukraine are a reminder that it doesn’t, it’s not always that way, unfortunately.

[00:35:52] Elyse Rivin: No, you’re absolutely right.

[00:35:54] Elyse Rivin: And reading and writing up all of the notes and everything, it made me realize that he would’ve been one of the first people to say yes to a Europe, to a Europeanorganization, to a European committee, to the idea that there’s a way of trying to bring people from different countries together.

[00:36:11] Elyse Rivin: The irony isthat he was hated, as you say, by many people for his anti war, anti militaristic ideas, and the irony is, of course, that in 1924 when the war was over and there was a more socialistic government, his ashes were taken to the Pantheon.

[00:36:34] Elyse Rivin: That was the year he was declared a national hero for his ideas and for his ideals, I think, more than anything else. And there was a huge cortège of miners who went with the ceremony to take his ashes, which had been buried in a cemetery in Castres, and taken to the Pantheon where he is, of course, till this day.

[00:36:54] Elyse Rivin: A sad fact is that his only son enlisted in the Army in 1915 and was killed three years later in 1918. There are many things that are very sad and ironic about the people in his family in relation to what he actually stood for. Very interestingly, the president François Mitterrand, who was elected in 1981 as a socialist president, who was one of the first socialist presidents since the 1930s in France.

[00:37:21] Elyse Rivin: One of the first things he did when he was elected was go to the Pantheon and pay his respects to Jean Jaurès. And he was the one who went to Castres in 1988 to inaugurate this museum in honor of Jean Jaurès, which is really significant. Because for him, Jean Jaurès was a symbol of another way of thinking. Which as you say, it’s interesting that all these schools and streets and places all over France are named after him, but I wonder how many people really know why.

[00:37:53] Annie Sargent: Well, that’s a good question. I don’t remember being taught that much about Jean Jaurès when I was growing up, but of course, I don’t remember very much about the history lessons I got as a child.

[00:38:05] Annie Sargent: It’s later on in life that I was like, why are all these streets about Jean Jaurès, you know? And eventually you just start wondering, and I’ve read, you know, there’s regularly articles about his life, about his work, and all of that. He’s definitely a hero.

[00:38:22] Annie Sargent: And I think he was, you know, La Dépêche du Midi so this is the newspaper that I grew up with because in Toulouse there’s no escaping. It was more of a centrist, left-leaning center newspaper.

[00:38:36] Annie Sargent: And I think he, even though he’s the founder of L’humanité, which these days is a, I don’t even know if L’Humanité gets published anymore, perhaps only online.

[00:38:45] Elyse Rivin: I think it’s a weekly now, instead of a daily, I think that’s what it is.

[00:38:49] Annie Sargent: It’s a communist paper, and up until the 80s in France, the communist party got 10% of the vote.

[00:38:56] Annie Sargent: Now it’s not even a 10th of a percent of a vote.

[00:38:59] Annie Sargent: It’s minuscule compared to what it was.

[00:39:02] Annie Sargent: But we still have a strong kind of left, extreme left even groupment of people, around Mélenchon, who is another interesting character of French politics. But we’re not going to get into that.

[00:39:14] Annie Sargent: But we still have this idea in France that you can fix things by helping the poor and less fortunate. And honestly, I think as a middle-class person, I have no desire to see anybody living on the streets or struggling, or I would rather they didn’t. I would rather we did something to help them, because it doesn’t do anybody any good to let these people in their terrible situations, you got to help them. We’re all better off if we help them. Perhaps I’m just an optimist or whatever, but I think that’s what we should do. So the ideals Jean Jaurès are still very much alive in France, but I think on the war and on the business of no war, he was unfortunately wrong.

[00:39:56] Elyse Rivin: Well, when you see all the different things that he believed in, I didn’t even mention that, it was astounding to me, he actually put forth a bill which didn’t go through to give Algerians, Algeria had been made a colony by France, he put forth a bill to give citizenship to Algerians, who are of Arab descent. I mean, these are the things at the end of the 19th, beginning of 20th century that were absolutely unheard of.

[00:40:22] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. People were like, hell no.

[00:40:23] Elyse Rivin: Right. There was no more slavery, but the Islands in the Caribbean, Martinique, Guadalupe, all of that, there was no more slavery, but it might as well have been just like the sharecroppers in the south of the United States.

[00:40:35] Elyse Rivin: People’s conditionswere horrendous. He put forth another bill to try and improve their lot in life. I mean, really? In that sense, I find that I admire him more and more all I read about him, which is because he really cared about people. That’s basically, I think the bottom line.

[00:40:52] Elyse Rivin: And maybe I agree with you. There are times when unfortunately, war is inevitable. I’m not sure about World War I, I honestly don’t understand really why there was World War I, but that’s another whole story. But I can understand why it was part of his humanistic ideas to think maybe there’s another way of solving problems, whatever. In any event, thank you Jean Jaurès for existing because you really did make a difference in the end.

[00:41:19] Annie Sargent: Certainly, and also if you’re in the southwest of France, do consider a visit to Castres.

[00:41:25] Annie Sargent: It’s a cute town, honestly it’s well worthone overnight. And the issue is always when you travel, should we go there and stay can we…, but I think you can use it as a central and then branch out from there. Because there’s a lot of places to do day trips from there.

[00:41:42] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. You can go to, as you mentioned, the village of Lautrec, but you can go to The Sidobre and see a lot of nature, you can go into Albi, you can go hiking in the Black Mountains.

[00:41:52] Elyse Rivin: It’s not a bad place to be.

[00:41:53] Annie Sargent: And it’s also an up and coming kind of small town in France that’s worth considering if youwant to possibly move to France at some point.

[00:42:03] Annie Sargent: Not a bad place to retire to, honestly, because medical care is pretty good. I mean, for the big things you need to go to Toulouse, but it’s not that far, it’s an hour drive.

[00:42:13] Elyse Rivin: And it’s very dynamic right now, economically.

[00:42:16] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much, Elyse.

[00:42:17] Annie Sargent: You are quite welcome. Annie.


Thank you Patrons

[00:42:25] Annie Sargent: I would like to thank my patrons for their continued support. By joining at, you’ll gain access to many exclusive rewards. And a warm welcome to new patrons this week: William Paugh, Amy, Shelly, Katy Stephens, Amy Stone and Brian Apsley.

[00:42:54] Annie Sargent: Your dedication to keeping this podcast going is truly appreciated.

Patreon app on your phone

[00:43:00] Annie Sargent: Patrons, I recommend you download the Patreon app for easy access to your rewards on the go. Enjoy perks like French pronunciation assistance. I need to get back to that after the boot bootcamp, I promise. Personal video updates as I explore France and delicious French recipes beyond the ones you can already find in my cookbook, Join Us at the Table.

Personal Itinerary Consultant Service

[00:43:25] Annie Sargent: And if you’re gearing up for a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as possible to prepare, keep doing that, it’s a great way to prepare your trip. But you can also take advantage of my expertise as your personal itinerary consultant.

[00:43:39] Annie Sargent: To get started,simply follow these steps.

[00:43:42] Annie Sargent: Number one, purchase the service at

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent: Then complete a questionnaire to share your travel ideas and preferences.

[00:43:51] Annie Sargent: Then the third step is schedule a phone appointment during which we’ll discuss your plans for about an hour.

[00:43:57] Annie Sargent: And number four, after our conversation, I send you a comprehensive document outlining the itinerary that we discussed.

[00:44:06] Annie Sargent: Now the thing is, my schedule is booked up many weeks in advance, and unfortunately I can’t stretch the time, but I’m trying to figure out ways to make it easy for people to just book a time to talk with me, just quick questions kind of deal. I’m working on that, it’ll probably come in June.

GPS self-guided tours

[00:44:27] Annie Sargent: But if I’m fully booked up and you’re coming soon, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. I’ve got lots of them you can choose from Eiffel Tower, Ile de la Cité, le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés, and the Latin Quarter.

[00:44:48] Annie Sargent: This is really the simplest way to enjoy a worry free parisian experience because my voice guides you through all the wonderful sites and tells you the significance of the places where you are standing.

[00:45:02] Annie Sargent: Now you can access these directly via the VoiceMap app if you need immediate access, or you can receive a special listener discount by buying codes at

[00:45:16] Annie Sargent: But if you do it that way, it will take a couple of days, okay? This is not an automated process.

Airbnb and Superhost

[00:45:21] Annie Sargent: One of the things that comes up all the time in the Join Us in France Facebook group is Airbnb. Some people love it, some people hate it. It’s clear that this service creates all sorts of problems for locals because it pushes rental prices up.

[00:45:40] Annie Sargent: Many municipalities are taking steps to limit the number of nights owners can rent their apartments and impose licenses and taxes. So either you only rent for a few nights a year, or you pay quite heavy taxes and licensing fees.

[00:46:00] Annie Sargent: As you know, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a long time, I inherited an apartment that my parents bought decades ago in Spain. It’s in a city called Vilanova i la Geltrú, and Elyse and I talked about it in episode 117 of the podcast.

[00:46:17] Annie Sargent: I am now doing some much needed renovations to the apartment, and I thought, Hey, it’s going to be looking much nicer, and I only use it for a few weeks a year, let’s talk to some people about renting it out as an Airbnb.

[00:46:32] Annie Sargent: This is when I learned all about the racket of the Superhost.

How to become a Superhost

[00:46:40] Annie Sargent: Becoming a Superhost takes some skill. You have to be good at getting your apartment ready for visitors and be good at getting them to write you glowing reviews, and you have to do that repeatedly, maybe 20 or 30 times. But once you get to be a Superhost. Ding, ding, ding, ding, you can monetize that.

[00:47:05] Annie Sargent: Here’s how it works. A charming Superhost sets up a business where they offer to list apartments. They get you to comply to what they know renters want because they’ve done it for a long time, they know what renters want. They also make sure that you’re set up legally to get rental income in that market.

[00:47:27] Annie Sargent: So they talk you into paying your taxes, even if it’s high, you got to pay your taxes. And they list the apartment for you. Of course, they take both a yearly retainer and a 28% of whatever you charge per night for the privilege. Most of them only list your place if you are signed for at least two years.

[00:47:52] Annie Sargent: And if you agree to never use the apartment in high season. And then me, a complete newbie in the Airbnb world I wouldn’t know how to list it, how to take photos and write the descriptions, and they do it all because they know what sells. So when you think the apartment is going to be great because it belongs to a Superhost, you’re wrong.

[00:48:22] Annie Sargent: It probably does not belong to the Superhost. The Superhost has never stayed there. They just walked through with a checklist, took some photos, wrote descriptions with keywords they know hit the spot. They’re also taking a big chunk of money for the privilege.

[00:48:41] Annie Sargent: Then the two I talked to said, when pressed that what would be left for me is barely enough to pay all the utilities and taxes for the year, because Villanova is not a touristy town. So I don’t get to use my apartment when I want it and the only people making money are Airbnb and the Superhost. It’s not for me.

[00:49:07] Annie Sargent: I can see how investors who just want to fix up several places in a city in high demand like Paris or Nice or Barcelona, they do it according to the taste of visitors and put it in the hands of a Superhost, they would get to pay off that property quite quickly because they got people who know their drill.

[00:49:31] Annie Sargent: But then there’s another layer to this. Right next to Villanova, which again is not a touristy city, is another town called Sitges that is very, very touristy. Okay? Lots of tourists from all over the world. You hear English in that town all the time. The mayor of Sitges recently decided that he’s done granting tourist licenses to new apartments.

[00:49:58] Annie Sargent: There are way too many Airbnb apartments in Sitges, locals can’t afford to live there anymore.Now, nobody new can get in the game in Sitges. The Superhost I talked to said that investors are already coming to Villanova instead, where it’s still quite easy to get a tourist license. The moral of the story is this.

[00:50:23] Annie Sargent: If you think you’re renting an apartment when the owners go away on their own vacations, that’s hardly ever what happens. Because even if these nice people going on vacation take the trouble to list their apartment for two or three weeks a year or whatever it is, they’re not going to be a Superhost. Nobody’s going to rent that place. For one thing, it’ll be so far down the search that nobody’s going to see it. For another thing, if they’re not in the game, they don’t know what keywords to use, what sort of photos they should post, the story they should tell. So when you book an Airbnb, you are probably dealing with an owner who has a portfolio of apartments bought as an investment, who then contracts with a Superhost to keep the place full as much as possible.

[00:51:17] Annie Sargent: And also they want a new IKEA kitchen every three years. She actually told me, because I’m getting a new IKEA kitchen and I told her, I’m not sure what to pick, whatever. She said, it doesn’t matter, you have to redo it. Oh my God, like three years. You redo it. And they also want a beautiful view out of the balcony.

[00:51:36] Annie Sargent: That’s very important. That’s what sells in that area.

[00:51:40] Annie Sargent: Now, obviously there are times when it makes sense to rent an apartment rather than go to a hotel. I know this. I just wanted to shed some light on the Airbnb ecosystem because I learned a lot about it this month and I bet most of you don’t know this.

[00:51:58] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for telling your friends about this podcast, for your reviews and all of that. You are wonderful and a big thank you to podcast editor Cristian Cotovan, who produces the transcripts. He’s such a big help. If he wasn’t there, there wouldn’t be a podcast next week because I’m going to be way too busy or the week after that.

Next week’s episode

[00:52:18] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about visiting French ports on the Mediterranean by cruise ship. An episode with Helen Talley-Macrae. We haven’t talked about cruise ships very much, but it’s a biggie, and the question is always, what do we do with the short time we have in port, right? You’ll hear all about it next week.

[00:52:43] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.


[00:52:50] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

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Categories: French History, Toulouse Area