The Church St Pierre of Orthez !!

I like to update this older post which brings lots of memories of my road warrior travels in my belle France. This is going to the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64, region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, and to another off the beaten path for most visitors. This is the town of Orthez and to show the nice St Peter’s Church (l’église St Pierre). See my other posts on Orthez in my blog. Hope you enjoy this post as I.


The Church of Saint-Pierre is said to be built by the Viscount de Béarn. It is the testimony of the past greatness of Orthez. It dates from the 14-15C, when the city was the capital of Béarn in the 12C ,following Morlaàs and before Pau. It was an important city at the crossroads of the route from Toulouse to Dax and on the Vicomtale road that led to the Pyrenees, a passage from the Gave de Pau.

orthez-ch-st-pierre-nave to altar aug14

There is not much documentation on the church, and there is no document to established the conditions for the church of the choir and the nave. The establishment of Orthez as the seat of the Viscounts of Béarn had to lead to the work of the St Peter’s Church in the 13C. They started with the construction of the chorus of modest proportion. Some historians believe that the work had to stop there at the death of Gaston VII of Béarn, in 1290, and that they did not resume until the death of Gaston Fébus, in 1391, when the city would have received a part of the treasure lying in the tower of Moncade.(see post).


orthez-ch-st-pierre-chapel-st pierre aug14

Some parts of the nave are ancient, probably, prior to the 14C.  Among the peculiarities of the St Peter’s Church are the absence of collateral and the highest vault of the Béarn with 18 meters at the dome. Inside ,it houses a sketch for the panel of the Pantheon, the Martyrdom of Saint Denis which was offered by the Beaux-Arts Museum in 1924. Two wooden statues-one representing Sainte Anne, mother of Mary ,and grandmother of Jesus, and the other Saint James, also decorate the church. In 1870, Aristide Cavaillon-Coll built an organ. The organ was restored in 1925 and in 1958. The original organ of Cavaillon-Coll was again restored in 1982.


There is wonderful painting L’église Saint Pierre à Orthez of 1914 done by Maurice Utrillo! Now at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

The city of Orthez on the Church St Pierre

The local Béarn heartland tourist office on Orthez

There you go folks an unique city with lot more to see off the beaten path and a great gateway to the Pyrénnées and Spain. The Church St Pierre is one nice monument to visit in Orthez !

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

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