Navarrenx and its ramparts !!

We were in our road warrior routine from our base in Pau ,and 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. However, once there we found out it has a lot more to offer, as the town is surrounded by the first rampart walls built from 1538!. I will give you here new text using older pictures, see my other posts on Navarrenx !


In Navarrenx, they were endowed with a new system of bastioned fortifications from 1538 to 1549: Henri d’Albret and Marguerite d’Angoulême, kings of Navarre, with 1.66 km of ramparts 10 meters high, with walls caulked with earth and pierced with fortified gates, four bastions, steps, half-moon, watchtowers, underground countermine galleries.  A powder magazine and a military fountain complete this defensive system as well as an arsenal built later in 1680.  The impressive ramparts took 10 years of construction, reputedly impenetrable and revolutionary, don’t these walls and their plan remind you of someone, a famous military architect for example…. Vauban ! Well little scoop, here in Navarrenx, they were the firsts!


Navarrenx is surrounded by the first bastioned enclosure built in France from 1538. Although, distorted since at the end of the 20C by a municipal decision, thoughtless, allowed the demolition of the Porte de France or the Musketeers as well as a drilling, unsightly and remained in the state, of the curtain Saint Antoine in the extension of the rue Saint Germain. Surrounded by walls from the 14C, the city retains beautiful vestiges such as the Porte Saint-Antoine gate, rebuilt in 1645, the powder tower, the barracks square, the military fountain, as well as Gothic houses and, on the square of the City/Town Hall, a 17C arsenal built on the ruins of the house of the Kings of Navarre.


In 1680, Vauban or one of his collaborators renovated the enclosure, without altering its general appearance. New barracks are also built. The bridge built in 1583 was repaired several times during the 18-19C. The curtain walls were razed to provide roads and the bridge was widened in 1988 to facilitate motor traffic. Two thirds of the ramparts of Navarrenx remain. In the city, the fountain, the powder magazine, the 16C arsenal and the barracks, built in 1680, still exist and have been transformed into private dwellings.


Some anecdotes in Navarrenx !!

Under the fortified gate, a plaque recalls the passage, in 1828, of illustrious lovers: the pianist Franz Liszt and his pupil from Pau, Caroline de Saint-Cricq, whom he had to leave because the Comte de Saint-Cricq, financier of the kingdom , had other ambitions for his daughter. However, it is much more likely that this passage took place in 1844. Indeed, we know the timetable of Franz Liszt from January to July 1828, the date of the break with Caroline de Saint-Criq. On the other hand, we know that Liszt stayed from October 7 to 21, 1844 in Pau, and that he met Caroline de Saint-Criq, wife of D’Artigaux, on this occasion. It is therefore most certainly during these days that the famous visit to the ramparts of Navarrenx took place.

Imagine Aramis and Athos growing up just a few dozen kilometers away in their respective villages, Isaac de Portau, alias Porthos is from a family from Audaux, a stone’s throw away, training for battle as a young man with the city guards . Here he was at the end of his career guarding ammunition from the city of Navarrenx !!.

And ,Paul de Batz d’Artagnan born in Navarrenx, musketeer then captain in the king’s guards; older brother of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan (who inspired the character in the novel The Three Musketeers). King Louis XIV grants him in May 1667 the government of the fortress of Navarrenx. This patent was regularly renewed for him every three years until his death on May 24, 1703.

The city of Navarrenx on its history/heritage

The Béarn des Gaves local tourist office on Navarrenx

There you go folks, something unique in deep south France. The place is very nice, even romantic, you should make a detour to stop at Navarrenx! Enjoy the ramparts as I !

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

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