Béarn, a strong identity
A territory with a strong identity, strong traditions and good gastronomy, Béarn is located between the Pyrenees in the south, the Basque Country in the west and the Landes, but also the Gers in the north. In short, Béarn has character! Historically, a land of lords and war, women and men have made it famous. From Gaston Fébus to Jeanne d'Albret, from King Henri IV to Bernadotte, a Palois who became King of Sweden and Norway, they fought for their faith and transformed it to make this part of France. Today, this geographical area abounds in magical places, postcard settings and above all beautiful addresses to eat and rest. From the castle of Pau to the resort of Gourette via the sumptuous vineyards of Jurançon or Sauveterre-de-Béarn, this area offers you exceptional discoveries, breathtaking outings, unusual encounters and stories to tell. To come here is to adopt a way of life. As soon as you enter the Béarn region, you will be struck by the authenticity and kindness of the people
Wild and preserved territories in the Pyrenees
At Artouste, a Pyrenean station, you can take the highest train in Europe, for example. From the Aspe valley to the Ossau valley, the summits set the pace. You will take advantage of magnificent paths to go for walks surrounded by marmots or birds of prey. Resorts, family or at the cutting edge of modernity, bring to life these wild and preserved territories. All winter long, the snow offers you many activities, from snow sports to spas and the latest news from the resorts
And in the Aspe valley, Lourdios-Ichère, Sarrance, Accous and Borce are as many obligatory stops on the way to the valley. The AspeValley Ecomuseum brings together the four villages in an initiatory tour, widely announced by a leaflet translated into English and Spanish. Each site has its own specific point of interest: the Notre-Dame-de-la-Pierre site in Sarrance, the Basque-Béarnais farmers in Accous, "Un village se raconte" in Lourdios-Ichère and a stop on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Borce. This association opens a window on the mythical Pyrenees around which the visit is organised. Audiovisual shows, original stagings, special scents, so many ways to discover the valley in a different way, between the history of tales and stories about the settlement of men on these lands. An obligatory stop to discover the history and charm of the Aspe valley!
Gastronomy, fauna and heritage, long live Béarn!
In Jurançon, you will be in the heart of the vineyards to discover what makes the reputation of Béarn all over the world, to taste its wines present on the best tables as well as the farmhouse cheeses resulting from the pastoral culture of the area. From gastronomy to wildlife, Béarn is a small paradise. The salmon run down the rivers and streams to the delight of fishermen and nature lovers alike. The latter will also be delighted by the expanses of forest and mountains of Béarn. As far as heritage is concerned, the area is not to be outdone. Castles, towers, defensive bridges, churches, ramparts? Whether medieval, Romanesque, Renaissance or ultra-contemporary, each building is amazing and above all historic.
Pau, city of art and history
Obviously the most prestigious residence illuminates Pau, an extraordinary capital with its castle in the heart of the city center crossed by a car circuit, by the Gave where kayakers challenge each other and renowned for its basketball players, among the best in the world. Charming city with an incredibly mild climate, historic streets where innovation centres and major research centres meet, with a lower and an upper part that can be reached by funicular, Pau spreads its green parks everywhere, like so many breaks where you can savour delicacy
Since 18 November 2011, Pau has held the label "City of Art and History" awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Communication on the advice of the National Council of Cities and Countries of Art and History, made up of 25 personalities. This distinction aims to make known, protect, restore, enhance and create in order to better transmit local history. A real honour for the city, Pau has always strived to preserve and make attractive its precious heritage!
An emblematic monument of Pau, the castle of Pau is located in the heart of the city, facing the Pyrenees. Birthplace of Henri IV, first king of France and Navarre, on December 13th, 1553, the castle of Pau holds its origins of a feudal castle built on a first wooden fortification before the 11th century. It is with Gaston Fébus that the building became an impregnable fortress in the second half of the 14th century. Castle of the kings of Navarre, the Renaissance added its architectural innovations: kitchen, main courtyard, balconies? Jeanne d'Albret and Antoine de Bourbon will then create the gardens at the birth of their son, future king. If he didn't live there for long, his famous cradle in turtle shell is still there! Thus the various lives of the castle, which became the National Museum in 1929, were revealed. Some 12,000 works and objects are listed in its inventories, and the collections are of an absolute wealth. The tapestries of the Gobelins, the furniture recreating ceremonial apartments with the famous table of 100 place settings, but also paintings and sculptures contemporary or not to the King make its fame. A must in Béarn!
An equally tasty heritage!
In Pau, you can also enjoy putting your feet under the table. And the star of the corner is of course the Bayonne ham! And to find out more, the Bayonne Ham House will take you on a journey through the history of pigs and ham through the centuries and ages. First of all, you have an appointment with the table of the Roman notables, then with that of the lords of the Middle Ages. Everywhere, at any time, the pig was a delicacy of choice. Vauban, Louis XIV's minister, saw it as a practical means of fighting famine because of the ease with which the animal could be raised. This is not the only anecdote we learn in the museum. During the visit, you will learn all about legends, stories, songs and games about ham and pigs. It ends in the shop where the quality of the product is guaranteed. This museum is an opportunity to discover in a playful way what lies behind the Bayonne Ham appellation.
Also a must-see stopover, the Museum of Sweet Arts, initiated by three-time world champion and France's best jam maker Francis Miot, retraces the history of the sweet arts. His creations are still a must in the gourmet world and their names are a delight before you savour them: cuckoos, the queen's nipples and the gentleman's plums... The shop presents them to you and to visit the gourmet's lair, you have to go under the tree bearing the fruits of the Garden of Eden and go to the laboratory of Nostradamus, the patron saint of jam makers. A soundtrack comments on the master's collection and you go back in time to find Christopher Columbus, the history of sugar cane and spices before entering the heart of the legends of jams. A unique collection of a thousand instruments related to the art of sugar, such as jars and scales, from 2,000 years BC to the present day: it took nearly 20 years to collect them. Recipes, manufacturing processes, films and colourful characters make the visit as fun as it is exquisite. It's tasty! And once again, bon appétit, welcome to Béarn and, above all, enjoy your stay!
When? Between forests, plains and mountains, Bearn has many assets in all seasons. Hiking in summer or skiing in winter? Everything is possible!
Get there. To get to Béarn, located almost an hour from the beaches, but also from the mountains, you have different choices! Well served, the capital of Béarn has an international airport with various regular lines (Paris, Marseille...), an SNCF network which serves the main cities (Bordeaux, Toulouse, Paris...), two motorways (A64, A65), national roads as well as private bus companies which are more and more numerous to offer their services to our territory.
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