The Waters of Thore
"Is getting there really half the fun?"
Like a lot of people, I am very interested in the origin of my name. A couple years ago, I was playing around on Google and found that there are two places with my surname as part of their place name. There was one in southwestern France with no real indication as to whether it is a town, body of water, or what-have-you. The other is a town between Tours and Le Mans, closer to Paris.
This summer after a trip to Bosnia, I decided that I was going to find those two places. It was an interesting adventure. After spending a couple of days on the Riviera, I headed toward Toulouse in hope of figuring out what the Thore of amorphous location was.
From Toulouse, I took a train to La Bruguiere, hoping to find this mysterious Thore water. The reasons for picking La Bruguiere was that I remembered it from some of my studies of WW II history and that it was the closest place with a train station to that squiggly blue line named Thore.
From the train station, I began walking. I stopped at the post office and a bakery as well as trying to query people on the street but could not find anyone who knew anything about Thore, nor even evidenced a recognition of the name either with or without the accent aigu over the e, and with a silent or enunciated h. The amazing thing about that was that within a couple miles on the main road heading southeast out of town, I started seeing large road signs with arrows pointing toward "Vallee Thoree." After walking several miles and encountering increasing traffic density and narrowing shoulders, I decided to catch a bus. The next decision was as to what destination I should seek.
"A very quiet little town"
Mazamet seems to be a small town of about 10-12,000 people and it appears that it may be in the Vallee Thoree since what appears to be the River Thoree flows right through the center of town. As I arrived in late morning, the town frustrated me, but at the same time I was very pleased to find a place that was not trying to sell its soul for the tourist dollar, franc, nor euro. The Visitors' Center was closed for lunch, as it appeared that everything in town was as well. I found a very small stream (8-10 incghes deep where I first tried it) which in fact turned out to be the River Thoree. Since I could not find a place to eat or otherwise spend my dwindling resources, I walked down the river for a mile or so and returned to town. Everything was still closed and it was about two o'clock.
By wandering around town and talking to some men in a small, quiet park near the center of town and some skateboarders who seemed to be at least as interested in why I was there as I was in finding out about their hometown, I was able to discover that the town was once known for its wool and leather and that it was a relatively wealthy town. I do not know if the Tour de France which was about to start within about 10 days of my visit had anything at all to do with it but there were quite a few bicyclists on the streets and roads around Mazamet that day as well. The Tour did not go through Mazamet this year but it was the start of a stage in 2007.