Archive for August 24th, 2014

August 24, 2014

The trip continues Monein, Navarrenx, and Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

Moving right along, on our wonderful escapade to the Pyrénées Atlantiques departément 64 of the Région of Aquitaine, France.  This is the department official tourist site in English

French is more so here it is, . We passed the towns of Monein, Navarrenx, and Oloron-Sainte-Marie. Criss crossing the region by the road warrior pedmar10 ::) yours truly.

We set out from our home base in Pau to reach Monein, this is in the heart of Jurançon wine country and their English tourist site is  again more in French at  We took the rocade de Pau D817 towards Orthez and then cut off at road D2 at Pardies direction Monein right on a traffic circle.  It was a very prosperous city since the times of Viscount Gaston Fébus and only when industralisation came that the city slow down. Today other than the many caves of jurançon wines that we left for other location like Gan , you have the wonderful Church of Saint Girons, built from 1470 taking 70 years to complete! entering the Church is free if you wish to go up to the attic 72 steps,  and see the concave ceilings you pay 5€ adults, it is open for this from April 15 to June 30 and September 15 to October 16 Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays at 16h, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 15h and 17h. July 1 to September 15 every day at 11h , 15h and 17h; Sundays and Holidays at 15h and 17h. October 16 to April 14 Wednesdays and Saturdays 16h. You must see it.

We continue to Oloron Sainte Marie along the road D9, and this is a town we passed so many times its unbelievable that we never had stop to really see it. Well better now than later, it is very nice place to visit, again.  This is their tourist office in French but it can be change to English,

At Oloron you have two wonderful Church buildings, first Sainte Marie , a Cathedral from the 12C a UNESCO heritage site and on the way to St James de Compostela. Treasures of metal and wood from the 12C and 13C unique and richly deserving of the status and a must see ; there is even a baby crib from the 13C! you have a room done in the 17C with priest and bishop clothings of the period done in gold and silver! a really place to be. I won’t tell you more , you must come to see it.

We moved on to the Church of Notre Dame ,where it has a crypt from the 19C where mass is still held today.  The crypt has now a collection of sacred art. IN its four rooms you have a sacristy, and the crypt of the dead that welcome the families of the decease before their burials. A very serene quiet place and nice to see.

The city has a huge public garden or jardin public with many memories of the Fallen in wars all over; a nice covered market or marché couvert for veggies fruits cold cuts goodies, and a wonderful river or gave d’aspe passing thru it . By the Church of Sainte Marie you have a statue and plaque of the storey of the Saint Grat, where it said, the bishop of Oloron died in Jaca (Aragon,Spain) in the 6C and both the Aragonese and Béarnaise argued over keeping the body. To settle this issue they chose a mule at the col de Somport (the mountain passage we took and divide the countries) to see which direction the mule will take as it was blind. The blind mule carry the body all the way to the steps of the Cathedral of Sainte Marie in Oloron Sainte Marie, end of dispute.

One place you should not missed if chocolate lovers is the store of Lindt, the Swiss chocolate house has a factory and store here selling to the public as outlet. WE went for it and got a bag full of great chocolate some not even yet in the stores like the infusion of orange truffé sublime ::)  and the tourist office take on it ,

We hesitate whether to head back to Pau or stop by Navarrenx , a town we read was nice and fortified. As passing thru the area and missing so much before, now here, we did not passed up anything, and decided to stop by. A wonderful decision. Navarrenx is quaint, nice ,old and a very nice intact ramparts system. Meaning we had to take the road D936 and get away from Pau, no problem the road warrior to the rescue.

Navarrenx has the ruins of a citadel and the ramparts still intact. Awesome to climb and great views;  ; you see the porte Saint  Antoine from the 16C still there, rigtht over you see the river or Gave d’Oloron a wonderful river with a nice bridge. Historic town since 1180 it got its fortified castle in 1316  by initiative of the viscountess Marguerite Mathilde. The ramparts are 10 meters high and were designed by an italian architect call for the job. The city is on the way of  Puy en Velay, the most frequented to arrive at Santiago de Compostela or St James in Galicia, Spain.  The wonderful Church of Saint Germain, built from 1551 and finished in 1562 is nice. It has a late gothic style and it was use as a protestant cult at first. king Louis XIII  stablished the Catholic cult in 1620 when the whole region was annexed to France.  The bell was added in the 19C. You can see the heads of pilgrims on the pylon columns and a portrait offered by emperor Napoléon III.

One of the curiosities of this city is that it house the Maison du Cigare or the house of tabacco, where they are handrolled and sold along the old tradition of Cuba. However, its the only cigar done with French Tobacco so uniquely French and not bad from what I remember of my grandfather ::)  the tourist office has more on it, and a nice video,

Very nice indeed! and oh yes we ate but we carry our picnic home made and stop along the rivers banks for eating, family style and better products purchase in the local markets with wines. Of course, we had those chocolates of Lindt for dessert lol!!! The country way to travel. Enjoy the trip as we did . Cheers and happy Sunday.

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