Orthez and a Jeanne!!!

And doing my road warrior rides in wonderful Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64 in the new region of Nouvelle Aquitaine I bring you to historical Orthez. We had great times here and several posts in my blog, just wanted to put up pictures here of the house museum of Jeanne. Hope you enjoy it as I

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.  Orthez is 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 of Orthez, grew under the monarchies into the suburbs of Moncade, where there is a castle (see post) , 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 tradition is even older than the current arena (arena of Pesqué, 1927), and the town is member of the Taurino towns of France association. webpage in French here:  http://www.uvtf.fr/les-villes-taurines/l-union-des-villes-taurines-de-france/

The city of Orthez on bullfights traditions in French: http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/Decouvrir-Orthez/Orthez-Ville-taurine

What are the things to see at Orthez ,me think are:

The Jeanne d’Albret museum is a museum devoted to the history of Bearn Protestantism it is installed in the walls of an old residence of the mother of king Henri IV, Jeanne d’Albret, dating from the 16C . It indeed belonged to Queen Jeanne as attested by the letters patent of November 30, 1555, registered on May 5, 1556. They indicate that the building was offered to Jeanne d’Albret in 1555 by Arnaud de Gachissans, lord of Salles and butler of Henri II d’Albret, Jeanne’s father, in exchange for letters of nobility. The sovereign wanted to make it his home during his visits to OrthezThe house known as Jeanne d’Albret is distinguished by its remarkable spiral staircase inscribed in an octagonal turret connecting the two buildings that make up the house. The retaining wall of the garden is one of the remains of the city walls. The facades facing the street were enlarged in the 16C, but, on the garden side, one can observe different types of openings which make it possible to identify the successive stages of construction.


The Jeanne d’Albret museum retraces with its collections of objects, portraits and documents, the history of Protestantism in Bearn since the 16C. The historical characteristic of Bearn is the conversion to Protestantism of its sovereign Jeanne d’Albret, who governs this small state as a convinced Calvinist. Therefore, the history of Béarn remains intimately linked to that of Protestantism. The museum therefore reviews all the historical phases: wars of religion, wars of Rohan, persecutions and clandestinity, but also the development of Protestantism in the 19-20C, missions, secularism, and personalities of this time who have a link with the Béarn: Élisée Reclus, Félix Pécaut, Eugène Casalis, Albert Cadier or the Spanish preacher Manuel Matamoros, persecuted and imprisoned by his Spanish compatriots. Very educational and historical a must to see and worth the visit to Orthez alone in my opinion.


The Official Jeanne d’Albret museum house :http://www.museejeannedalbret.com/accueil/

The Church Saint Peter’s or  Saint-Pierre (see post) 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.  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 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.

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 City of Orthez on heritage http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/Decouvrir-Orthez/Patrimoine

The Tourist office of Coeur de Béarn or heart of Bearn on Orthezhttps://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/24-hours-in-orthez.html

There you go for a wonderful tour of the deep south of FranceOrthez is a dandy town to visit ,Again,  hope you enjoy this post as I.

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

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