The Château de Moncade!

And I am coming back at your with another castle. Well we have a huge inventory of wonderful monuments to see here , of all sorts . However, to me leave me in a castle and I will be just fine thank you. Oh and any castle no matter the state of it today.

This is the case of the Moncade Castle in Orthez. Mostly in ruins with a tower save by the city but a wonderful site to see in your tours of the old Béarn now in dept 64 Pyrénéens Atlantique. We passed by and saw the tower so a must to come in and visit! Let me share it with you today.

First a bit on the town of Orthez so we can map ourselves ok.

Orthez is a town located in the Pyrénées-Atlantique department 64 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Halfway between Pau and Bayonne, the town is close to the Landes department. By road: the A64 passes south of the city exit n ° 8, rest area Magret, and the departmental D947, D933, and the D817(beltway to that goes into Pau)  pass in the town. By train: Orthez station is located on the Toulouse – Bayonne line and on the TGV line  Tarbes – Paris-Montparnasse.

The oldest remains of the city of Orthez date back to the 11C. Count Gaston VII Moncade had the idea in the 1250s, to build a new castle where he established his main residence. It was at the same time that he had the wooden palisade defending the Old Town replaced by a real rampart, and that was built the Pont-Vieux,(old bridge)  a real fortified gate over the river. From the 13C  to the 15C, Orthez was the residence of the viscounts of Béarn. Gaston Fébus declared the independence of Béarn in 1347.  Although in 1460 this residence was transferred to Pau, more central, Orthez remains throughout the old regime (monarchy)  the largest and most dynamic city of Béarn. In 1566, Jeanne d’Albret transferred there the Protestant Academy of Béarn transformed into a university in 1583 by Henri IV.

From 1940 to 1942, the dividing line that divided the department of Basses-Pyrenees into two parts integrated the city into an area occupied by the Nazi army, because of its position as road and rail. 5 crossing checkpoints were established, but many illegal refugee crossings and trafficking occurred and continued until the end of the war. Orthez was associated in 1973 with the former town of Sainte-Suzanne to form Orthez-Sainte-Suzanne, then this new town took the name of Orthez by itself.

The Château de Moncade and its keep-tower was built around 1250 by Gaston VII Moncade at a strategic place that was obviously fortified since ancient times. Gaston Fébus completes the fortifications and gives it its final form. It is then the seat of a sumptuous court. The tower is saved from total destruction around 1840 by decision of the town because it simply serves as a quarry for the construction of houses around. Nowadays, it is visited in summer and offers a panoramic view of the rooftops of Orthez and the surrounding countryside, against a backdrop of the Pyrenees in clear weather.


This is a bit outside Orthez but right from the town is easy on the road D933 . When we were there , a medieval horse knights competition was going on very nice indeed. We love it.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Orthez on the Castle

Tourist office of the heart of the Bearn on the castle in English

Tourist office of dept 64 Pyrenées Atlantique on Heritage of Orthez

There you go another dandy old nice property to visit while in the area, worth the detour I say. Enjoy the Chateau de Moncade at Orthez!

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

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2 Comments to “The Château de Moncade!”

  1. France claims almost five-thousand castles but includes a lot of questionable properties in that number. The Spanish Tourist Board claims that there are over two thousand five hundred and for comparison there are only eight hundred in the United Kingdom.


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