A little jewel of Oloron Sainte Marie!

And on our near pyrénées road warrior trips we passed by here many many times on our road trips to Spain. However, one time we stop in town and was pleasantly surprise. Let me update/revise text links on this older post of Oloron Sainte Marie to bring about those wonderful road warrior souvenirs! I found out had pictures that were not in this post so updating the pictures same text/links. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Indeed as said, we have passed by several times always on our way to Spain, and each time we say next time we will stop here, well, road warrior goes along the merry roads of France…So one time we finally stop, and actually walk around lol! This is a pleasant town and lovely chocolates. I am talking about my introduction to Oloron Sainte Marie.

Oloron-Sainte-Marie is in the department 64 of Pyrénées-Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. It only 50 km from Spain by the N134 that have taken zillion times at the confluence of the Aspe and Ossau that in turn creates the Oloron river, it is a the confluence of three valleys ,the Ossau , Barétous, and Soule.  The Gave d’Aspe waters the Aspe valley which is one of the three valleys of Haut-Béarn. 58 km long, the Gave d’Aspe has its source in the Cirque d’Aspe, at the foot of Mont Aspe (2,643 m), on the Spanish side of the border, west of the Col du Somport. It joins the Gave d’Ossau at Oloron-Sainte-Marie, thus forming the Gave d’Oloron.  Along the water, charming villages await you. Lovers of old stones will be charmed by Oloron-Sainte-Marie, the oldest town in Béarn.


A bit of history I like

It is a Roman creation from the 1C on the road to the Col du Somport peak. By 1080, the Viscount Centulie V the Young had a new city built Oloron on the former Roman town .  By 1214, Gaston VI Moncade was forced to give these lands to the Bishops as he was sided with the Albigeois (Cathars) considered heretics by the Church. It follows the the town was divided in two with Oloronthe Viscount town and Sainte-Marie,the Episcopal town ,and both were rivals for about eight centuries.  The wars of Religion and the French revolution stop twice the growth of the town, and only the rivalties between the two ends in 1858 by the Second Empire of Napoléon III . There was a town called Sainte-Marie-Legugnon that existed between 1841 and 1858 when it was annexed to Oloron Sainte Marie. Today it is annex to the city . The city is on the Art and History towns of France , and the local language Béarnais is spoken as well.

Some of the things to see here are:

The tour de Gréde from the Middle Ages, the former City/town hall and prison, the ramparts, the Castle of Legugnon from the 16C, the buildings of the rue Pomone dating from the 17C, the parc Pomme, the Cathedral of Sainte Mariethe Holy Cross Church,   Notre Dame Church, from the 10C; St Pierre Church from the 19C, the old monastery of Sainte Marie from the 17C.

The city is on the way or via Tolosane  (Toulosain) one of the four French ways to reach Santiago de Compostela , and the legend of the Grail as the story goes the bishop of Oloron died at Jaca (Spain) in the 6C; thereafter the Béarnais and Aragonese argued over who has the remains.  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.

Oloron Sainte-Marie has a small covered market located in the City/Town Hall Hall.  Some lodges only open on Fridays, but several merchants welcome their customers several days a week. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 7h30 to 12h30 and from 17h to 19h.


We walk the nice Jardin Public or public garden, very nice and quaint with very nice mansions all around it. The jardin public has 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.


The district of Sainte Croix you can have a nice walk along the Promenade Bellevue on the ramparts with nice views over the Cathedral, the Valley of Aspe and the mountains. The Sainte Croix or Holy Cross Church is a roman style with a arabesque dome; You can walk nearby to see wonderful old mansions at no 52 rue Dalmais you see the Heritage House or maison de patrimoine in a 17C house in two levels, next to it is the Tour de la Gréde.

 The best for us however, was in the district of Sainte Marie where you have a factory of Lindt chocolates and a boutique to sell direct to the public. However in Oloron, they make them for France,and it is a factory outlet and museum just lovely course, we load up quickly and big!!! Along ,it is worth the visit to the city! webpage: https://www.lindt.fr/shop

Some webpages to help you plan  your trip here are:

The  city of Oloron Sainte Marie on things to see: http://www.oloron-ste-marie.fr/Oloron/decouverte.php?id=4

The tourist office of the Pyrénées Béarnaise on Oloron Sainte Marie in French: https://www.pyrenees-bearnaises.com/offres/oloron-sainte-marie-oloron-sainte-marie-fr-2227838/

Its a pleasant town as said, and great base for the mountains of the Pyrénées on the French or Spanish side. Its a natural for us to stop by here for many years since 1990. Hope you enjoy the introduction to Oloron Sainte Marie, and see my other posts.

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

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: