Moving up to Orthez and a Jeanne!

And moving up from the mountains and closer to the expresways , and another jewel in the deep south of France. What better place than to see history, architecture and a different story of France, Protestant one.

We wandered by car always, to see these jewels of our belle France, and we encounter Orthez. Let me give you my previous blog post on it: See Orthez

Orthez is a town in the département 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques,in the région of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Half way between Pau and Bayonne and traverse the town by the gave de Pau and its tributaries rivers.

A bit of history I like

The oldest finding on Orthez (which still nobody seems to decide from where the name comes from)  is  from the 11C. This was two romanesque Churches ,one in the neighborhood of old town by the bridge, and the other by next around the Church of Saint-Pierre (St Peter).  The town resulted in a union of these two around 1260 with the creation of a municipal council sort of.

In the 13C to 15C , Orthez was the residence of the Viscounts of Béarn; Gaston Fébus declared the independence here in 1347. However, by 1460 the resident was transfered to Pau. Even if Orthez remained the biggest town and most dynamic of the Béarn during the monarchies of France. At Orthez , all the products with destination to the port of Bayonne was assembled. In 1566 Jeanne d’Albret had transfered the Protestant academy of Béarn here ,and it was transformed into an University by 1583 under king Henri IV.

The town grew under the monarchies into the suburbs of Moncade, where there is a castle , a bit isolated from the town as it had military functions. In 1814  there was the Battle of Orthez  with the victory of the Anglo-Spanish troops of the duke of Wellington against the Napoleonic army of Marshal Soult.  Not much influence on the town but a major influence on the war in Spain. At Orthez, there is great interest for the bullfight and traditioin is even older than the current arena (arena of Pesqué, 1927), and the town is member of the Taurino towns of France association. webpage here: Toro bullfights towns of France

What are the things to see at Orthez

The former Auberge Saint-Loup, today a private house at  rue du Pont-Vieux was in the 16C a hospice to welcome the pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. A very rich medieval architecture indeed.

The house or maison Batcave another nice medieval architecture example today private home. The Hôtel de la Lune, another stop for rest of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela, from the 15C. The Castle of Baure, and Castle of Préville, as well as the fountain of the Place Saint Pierre (by the Church) inmortalized by the painter Maurice Utrillo in 1923.

The house or Maison de Jeanne d’Albret , today is the tourist office and a Protestant museum of the Béarn. Originally, this house was a bourgeoise mansion from the 16C that was given as a donation by a Captain of the militias of Albret to the king Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d’Albret to obtain titles of nobility.  Here ,also, there is the museum of or  musée Jeanne d’Albret,dedicated to the long history of Protestanism in the Béarn. Very educational and historical a must to see and worth the visit to Orthez alone in my opinion. The official webpage here: Museum Jeanne d’Albret

Orthez

The Church Saint Peter’s or  Saint-Pierre dating from the 13C with a choir.  The work was not finished that a century later meanwhile changes of styles were done. Amongst the particularities of this Church is there is no collateral and the highest vault of the Béarn. In the 16C, the Protestants confiscated the Church. By 1865, the Church was restored and enlarged with a bell tower built under the entry portal.  It conserved an sketch of the panel of the Pantheon of Rome the martyr of Saint Denis that was offered by the fine arts in 1924.  Two statues in wood representing Sainte Anne, mother of Mary, (grandmother of Jesus) and St James.

Orthez

There is the Protestant temple at 20 rue du Général-Foy), consacrated in 1790. Another nice Church is that of the parish Church of  Saint-Barthélémy.

The castle of Moncade and its donjon tower built around 1250 by ordered of  Gaston VII Moncade on a strategic place and fortified from many centuries ago. This is a bit outside Orthez but right from the town is easy . Gaston Fébus completed the fortifications to give it the current form. It has an splendid courtyard and a nice tower that was saved from the city from using the stones to build home around the area. When we were there , a medieval horse knights competition was going on very nice indeed.

Orthez

The old bridge or Pont Vieux, dating from the 13C and 14C by the river.  It was begun by  Gaston VII Moncade at the moment of Orthez becoming the capital of the Béarn and carried his court.  Originally, it had two towers and today you see the unequal arches and a central fortified tower. It resisted two attacks in Orthez, that one of 1569 by the Protestants troops of Montgomery ,and in 1814 by the attack of the duke of Wellington after the Napoleonic troops.

Orthez

As an anecdote in closing, the very famous and nice guy Alain Ducasse was born here on December 13 1958 ; three stars Michelin with 22 restaurants in the world at last count.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it will be well worth your time are

City of Orthez on tourism in French : http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/Decouvrir-Orthez/Patrimoine

Tourist office of Orthez : https://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/24-hours-in-orthez.html

Tourism Pyrénées Atlantique (Orthez town of art and history) : http://patrimoine.tourisme64.com/label-art-histoire/patrimoine-orthez-bearn-des-gaves-pays-dart-et-dhistoire/

Tourism of Nouvelle Aquitaine; http://www.visit-nouvelle-aquitaine.com/Destinations2/The-Pyrenees

There you go for a wonderful tour of the deep south of France. Hope you enjoy the ride!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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