Mythical Navarrenx and its cigars!!

Oh let me update revise this old post from my road warrior trip in the south. I was pleasantly surprise to find myself with a history on cigars (tobacco)! I would be delighted to tell you a bit more on mythical Navarrenx and its cigars!!

In our wandering ways around our belle France, we have been to many towns and regions, this one was by accident. We went to Orthez (see post) and decided what to do next. We look up a map and decided to visit the town because of the history on cigars!  I am talking about Navarrenx in the department 64 Pyrenees Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The town is part of the most beautiful villages of France association since 2014 and the first one in the Béarn area to be name. Of course, see my other posts on Navarrenx!, this one was sort of an introduction.

A bit of a brief history I like:

By 1078 it was the first time the name was known. In 1523 ,the Spanish led by the Prince of Orange takes over the town and destroyed the defenses. They were rebuilt by 1538 to 1549 by Henri d’Albret and Marguerite d’Angoulême, king of Navarra. In 1620  king Louis XIII visited the town to imposed the union of the Béarn and Navarra to France.  The town did not gave trouble to the Royal troops. In the French revolution ,Navarrenx was chosen as the capital of the department of the Basses-Pyrénées (1790), later transfering it to Pau in same year.

Some things to see

The town is surrounded by the first rampart walls built from 1538 ordered by Henri II d’Albret king of Navarra, Viscount of the sovereign territory of the Béarn. The town still keeps most of it as well as the porte Saint-Antoine, redone in 1645, tour de la Poudrièreplace des Casernesmilitary fountain as well as gothic houses and on the place de la mairie,an arsenal from the 17C built on the ruins of the house of the kings of Navarra. Also, the house or Maison Paillé from the 16C. the town is on the via Podiensis or of Puy-en-Velay  on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  There is a bridge from the 13C that allow you even today to cross the gave d’Oloron river; before the pilgrims crossed by boat on very dangerous crossing by the gué de Mongaston.  Near the southern gate there was a hospital, Chapel of Saint Antoine, to welcome the pilgrims. Several lodgings were available and a welcome snacks offered to all those arriving between Easter and All Saints Day.

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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.

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The Church of Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre (see post) dates from the 16C but the lower element in the nerf were done in 1862. There are human marks on the walls and painted and you can recognized the contemporaries of king Henri II d’Albret. A door on the side was reserved for the cagots.  There is one personage born here that I like to mention, this is Paul de Batz d’Artagnan a muskeeteer and Captain of the kings’s guards as well as older brother of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan, who inspired the novel and later movie of the Three Muskeeteers . King Louis XIV gave him in 1667 the management of the fortress here and this was renewed every three years until his death in 1703.

One of the curiosities of this city is that it house the Maison du Cigare or the house of tabacco, now Hedon Cigares, same cigars different owners, here 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 ::)

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This was the best for us located at the Place de Casernes in a house from the 17C , where you have the Maison du Cigare, or cigars house (now Hedon).  Here, you have the opportunity to follow the steps necessary before reaching the realization of the only French premium cigars. Coming from the Cuban seeds and handrolling Cubans when we were there. You will know everything about its history from the seed that gives the tobacco plants to the placement of the ring. The course ends with the Torcedoras coming from Cuba. During your stroll, you will be able to observe the staff working, panels and videos explain each step of production. Small precision for connoisseurs: Three cigars are prepared in the house, the shorts, the robusta and the double Corona, sold in the unit or in boxes. In the house of cigars, in total immersion, a rolling workshop framed by a rolling machine will help you to make your own! Finally, a wine tasting and deli completes the exciting visit of the House of Cigars or the Maison du Cigare of Navarrenx. Officially now name the Hedon Cigares webpage: http://hedon-cigares.com/

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and well worth it!

The city of Navarrenx on its history/heritage in French: http://www.ville-navarrenx.fr/histoire-ville-de-navarrenx

The local tourist office for the region of Béarn des Gaves on Navarrenx in English: https://www.tourisme-bearn-gaves.com/en/discover/culture-and-heritage/bearn-des-gaves-cities/navarrenx-the-bastioned-city/

The webpage of the Les Plux Beaux Villages de France or most beautiful towns of France on Navarrenx in French: https://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr/nos-villages/navarrenx/

There you go something unique in deep south France. You should make it a stop at Navarrenx!

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

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