Fun things to do in Aquitaine

  • Monument Aux Girondins
    Monument Aux Girondins
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    Hunting for oysters
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  • The Fountain in the Square at Dusk
    The Fountain in the Square at Dusk
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    Beaches of Carcans

    by gwened Written Apr 1, 2015

    Another wonderful beach we have enjoyed in our trips to our favorite area and now time for photos from older periods.

    It is about 50 kms from Bordeaux bordering the Atlantic ocean and the biggest man made lake in Europe. Water activities are too much to mention !

    It shares all this with the main town of Carcans and the adjacent Maubuisson . We have come by car after getting off the Bordeaux rocade on exit 7 or 8 you come to the main town at the crossing of the roads D3 and D207. However there is a train station at Lesparre for the TER from Bordeaux to La Pointe du Grave

    sites here are the windmill done from 1627 and the miracle fountain of St John at the foot of the windmill. And the church of Saint Martin.13C

    you have the beach carcans ocean good for surfers and gliders and lac d'Hourtin-Carcans ,the biggest lake in France and the camping activities area of Bombannes
    The city tourist info is here in French
    http://www.carcans.fr/tourisme
    and the Bombannes activities page in French
    http://bombannes.ucpa.com/

    down from dune to town of Carcans oc��an Carcans oc��an beach by the lake beach at carcans maubuisson carcans maubuisson by resto le toucan
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    Basilique Notre Dame de la fin des Terres, Soulac

    by gwened Written Sep 19, 2014

    a wonderful Church at the extreme end of soulac en mer, city center it was call like this because close to the pointe des graves and it is right in the rue de la plage straight in from the beach.

    It is a stopping place on the way to Saint James de compostela UNESCO heritage site for this Way, and very nice Church too.

    some historical background;
    It is probably in the second half of the 12C that it was built up the sanctuary, designed from the outset as a large church of pilgrimage, whose plan is intended to allow an easier movement of the faithful around the relics. There is thus in Soulac: «of the candle that was carried by the Angel in the Nativity Jesus-Christ "; "Three palm leaves which were taken n front of Jésus-Christ at the entrance of Jherusalem" or even "Eight froment grains that were sown and made all-in-one hour as Nostre-Dame is fleeing in Egypt» . Other relics are the object of special veneration: relics of St. Veronica, who died in Soulac in 70AD, and a few drops of the milk of the Virgin brought from Holy land. Indeed, one of the meanings of the name of the town of Soulac is 'the milk of the Virgin' (Lake in latin Solum).

    The Basilica is a Romanesque style showing mixes of deep saintongeaises and poitevines influences. Originally built on a Latin cross plan (the transept was done during restoration at the end of the 19C) the sanctuary is now structured on a basilical plan. It consists of a central nave flanked by two collateral of the same height, the whole being divided into five bays. The arch vaults are orchestrated by a series of timbers to slightly exceeded forms based on engages 10 semi-columns. If the first three spans include substantially the same provisions, powerful fourth Bay piers, and the development of a small spiral staircase betray the presence of the primitive Tower (which was replaced by the current Tower in the 16C) in this precise place.

    The exterior, the apse was formerly divided into three horizontal registers by a series of bands, but only the upper parts have been identified during restorations. Above the bays unfolds an atypical arcade due to the presence of pilasters to transom which replace the balusters generally employed in this kind of decoration. Part and sides of the apse, two apsidioles extend the collateral. Two arcades allowed past the junction with the right Bay of the choir, but these have the particularity to be half buried (to preserve the structure, the building was not completely balance).

    visits are free from 9h to 17h30
    but a guided tour is ok for 6€ adults.

    Basilica Notre Dame de la Fin des Terres Altar of the basilica statue of St James Compostela as pilgrim la pieta de Gilbert Privat statue back chevet of basilica
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    église de l'Assomption de la Vierge, SJ PdP

    by gwened Written Aug 26, 2014

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    a wonderful Church at the middle of the rue de la citadelle on the way to Roncevalles and Spain for those in the Way to St James.

    It is said to be built in 1212,and it is the most important in the pays basque after that of Bayonne. It still carries the old name by the locals as Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont. Its name officially in French is
    église paroissiale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie et Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

    Better to explain than I from the Culture Ministry of France I translate,
    The building's plan extended to unique vessel, equipped with East an apse cut-sided covered with a polygonal rump, to the West of a Belltower surmounted with a flag slate roof. A covered porch of a rump hollow tiled roof above the tower. The West Portal is in sandstone full-arch and has an ornate vaulted to a bead. To the Southeast, the sacristy is covered with a gambrel roof. The walls are in rubble or in the Middle unit of limestone and sandstone. Pan de bois is located at the level of the Belltower. The south elevation is pierced by three openings full-arch. One of them, to the Southwest, is the gateway. It serves the inner Gallery West, accessible from the outside by a staircase of distribution in masonry. Inside, the nave is equipped with a false Vault basket. A straight staircase frame leads to the stands. The cemetery retains numerous old steles and the West porch houses funerary slabs.

    more in French from a site of the descendants of the nobles of pays basque Catherine I of Navarra-Foix Grailly-Béarn. With a lot more pictures on the town as well.
    http://www.lebrelblanco.com/anexos/atlasBN-SaintJeanPiedPort-Cizepays.htm

    it is the point to turn on your way to Roncevalles,and the way to Spain.

    Church de l'Assomption de la Vierge Church de l'Assomption de la Vierge nave chapel funerarium side of church chapel of the Virgin
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    house of bishops or jailhouse SJ Pied de Port

    by gwened Updated Aug 26, 2014

    the maison des évêques ou prison is a nice small house full of history right on the main inner city street of rue de la citadelle. open from April to November on certains days and 3€ adult admission. see site for updates

    It has a big vault room with nice showing especially it was indeed a prison from the end of the 18C to the 20C (nazis imprisioned men trying to escape to Spain here) some documents talks about maybe it was still in the middle ages a prison...

    Today it is a museum that reminds the visitor that Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port welcome the bishops during the great schism of the west in the end of the 14C to the early 15C.

    nice historical for the family.

    museum of bishop's and jailhouse entering the museum of Bishop's and Jailhouse
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    citadelle de Mendiguren , SJ Pied de Port

    by gwened Written Aug 26, 2014

    A wonderful old ruins covering most of the inner city and with great views over the mountains and city below. You can climb it to the top.
    the dept tourist page
    http://www.bearn-basquecountry.com/12-10923-St-Jacques-de-Compostelle.php

    We came off the middle of town at avenue Renaud and climb quickly on it. It is old ruins just to be there is nice, but the main out of it is the views of the mountains, at night it should have been better.

    Some interpretation of them from historical documents in the city hall or city govt building
    It was built in 1625-1627 by Pierre Conty of La Mothe d' Argencourt, then taken over in 1640-1648 by Nicolas Desjardins. Its western wall consists of artillery bunkers built in the years 1540 or 1550, in order to ensure the loyalty of the city. From 1686 to 1700, engineer François Ferry performs additional work there: construction of barracks and some additional defences, on the instructions of Vauban.The citadel, which is a well preserved and outstanding military architecture example in France, in the first half of the 17C. A ramp to reach it. The West Halfpipe, the panorama opens on the city and the basin of Cize.
    The fortress occupied by a college, can be visited. Around the inner courtyard and against the rampart built above vaulted underground casemates, shake the barracks, the flag of the Governor and its Chapel, magazines and well.

    impressive indeed.

    climbing Citadel of Saint Jean Pied de Port going to the top on stairs ! walls climbing up citadel views from top of mountains and city views from top of mountains and city
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    Cathédrale Sainte Marie,int,Oloron Sainte Marie

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    this is the interior pictures, see the exterior tip for more.

    a Cathedral from the 12C a UNESCO heritage site and on the way to St James de Compostela. Treasures of metal and wood from the 12C and 13C unique and richly deserving of the status and a must see ; there is even a baby crib from the 13C! you have a room done in the 17C with priest and bishop clothings of the period done in gold and silver! a really place to be.

    I won’t tell you more , you must come to see it

    more in French from the regional tourist office
    http://pratique.tourisme64.com/patrimoine-culturel/oloron-sainte-marie/cathedrale-sainte-marie-d-oloron-et-tresor/PCUAQU064FS00061.html

    Cathedral of Sainte Marie nave the chaise at the Cathedral the crown chapel behind altar with fabric walls sacristy with objects statues busts left side sacristy with objects statues right side
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    Cathédrale Sainte Marie, ext,Oloron Sainte Marie

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    wonderful Cathedral and a must to see here.

    a Cathedral from the 12C a UNESCO heritage site and on the way to St James de Compostela. Treasures of metal and wood from the 12C and 13C unique and richly deserving of the status and a must see ; there is even a baby crib from the 13C! you have a room done in the 17C with priest and bishop clothings of the period done in gold and silver! a really place to be. I won’t tell you more , you must come to see it

    see the interior tip as well.

    the city tourist office has a bit more in French
    http://www.tourisme-oloron.com/fr/sites-monuments/cathedrale-sainte-marie-d-oloron-et-tresor-oloron-sainte-marie.html?idProduit=PCUAQU064FS00061&p=2

    Cathedral of Sainte Marie back of Cathedral Sainte Marie the side back of St Graat with Sainte Marie the front tympan porch entrance
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    ramparts of fortified city of Navarrenx

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    this is one of the first fortified cities of the Béarn and also of France. it is still in pretty good condition with great view over the river or gave d'Oloron that passes just around it.

    Some historical facts from the place. In 1188, Gaston VI wrote a chater known as the "bridge of Navarrenx" involves the construction of a stone bridge, the establishment of a market biweekly and a perimeter of safety moat, hospital and chapel. The bridge was finally built in 1289. It facilitates access to the Pyrenean passes and Navarre, notably for the pilgrims of Saint Jacques. Indeed, the village is an important step on the road to the Puy at the crossroads of the paths leading to the col du Somport in the East and Roncesvalles West.

    The first fortress defending access is built before that date: it's the Casterrasse which persists with some stones outside the current ramparts. In 1316 the village receives the bastide from Marguerite Mathilde viscountess of Béarn: it is in the center of the city that the organisation remains faithful to the plan of the bastide with central square, perpendicular streets, houses from 6 to 7 meters wide, garden behind the House, and back discounts; the lanes separate houses.

    In order to establish his power on the Navarre, Henri II d'Albret reinforces the military value of the city in the 16C. After the destruction of the Casterasse by the army of William of Orange in 1523, he built the current ramparts by an Italian architect , Fabricio Siciliano. Constituted by a shoulder of land flanked by the wall, they make the city the main fortress of the Viscount.It thus becomes a century before Vauban the first bastion city of France: she was never defeated.

    Its main elements are a rampart walls of 1657 meters long, built between 1538 and 1547 with bastions, a half-moon, fortified doors and the watchtowers. La poudrière,(gun powder house) testimony of military architecture in stone. Military fountain to provide water the garrison in case of siege. Built arsenal later in 1680 could contain 30,000 balls of cannons and all kinds of weapons of the time.

    It is impressive. You can come to the square and go right to the side going up or right from the square go straight ahead on a narrow stairs and go up.

    top of ramparts old citadel ruins the ramparts of Navarrenx place des casernes ramparts middle right place des casernes to ramparts left down on bridge and gave d'Oloron river
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    église Saint Germain,interior, Navarrenx

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    a wonderful small Church nicely maintained in a fortified city of Navarrenx. see the exterior tip here.

    The interior has great vaults and decorated with fabrics, the arches are also decorated from floor to ceiling with sculpture figures and painted. The four potraits in the back are reproduction of Murillo, van Dick ,and L. Carrache offered by the Emperor Napoléon III, and his wife Eugénie de Montijo that once came to consult the doctor Darralde of the town.

    The Church was last renovated in 1852 for the addition of the bell at the entrance.

    nice to see if before moving on to the ramparts.

    Church of Saint Germain altar Chapel of the assomption chapel of  St Germain chapel of the virgin right side organ at St Germain

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    église Saint Germain, exterior, Navarrenx

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    a wonderful Church on a nice square on your way to the ramparts of Navarrenx. I just made a stop there while in the region, this is the local story.
    The city was a protestant stronghold that avoid destruction from the troops of king Charles IX. it is finally turn over to Catholicism after the region annexation to France in 1620 Under king Louis XIII.

    The Church was pillage, stolen, destroyed until finally restored from 1987 to 1993.

    The interior has great vaults and decorated with fabrics, the arches are also decorated from floor to ceiling with sculpture figures and painted. The four potraits in the back are reproduction of Murillo, van Dick ,and L. Carrache offered by the Emperor Napoléon III, and his wife Eugénie de Montijo that once came to consult the doctor of the town.

    Church Saint Germain side belltower plaque in front history of church St Germain
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    église Saint Girons, interior, Monein

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    taking off from the exterior tip and showing the interior of this wonderful Church started in 1470 taking 70 years to buitl, first as a protestant temple and later as a Catholic Church after the region annexation by the kingdom of France in 1620 Under king Louis XIII.

    more of it in French with diagram and pictures from the parrish site
    http://www.saint-vincent-baises.com/monein.php

    altar of Church St Girons chapel de Marca chapel de Badet altar left nave the nave of St Girons
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    église Saint Girons, exterior, Monein

    by gwened Written Aug 24, 2014

    a nice Church in a jurançon wine area town.
    you have the wonderful Church of Saint Girons, built from 1470 taking 70 years to complete! It was a protestant temple at the times of Jeanne d'Albret and brought back to Catholicism when the region was annexed to France in 1620 by king Louis XIII.

    Entering the Church is free if you wish to go up to the attic 72 steps, and see the concave ceilings you pay 5€ adults, it is open for this from April 15 to June 30 and September 15 to October 16 Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays at 16h, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 15h and 17h. July 1 to September 15 every day at 11h , 15h and 17h; Sundays and Holidays at 15h and 17h. October 16 to April 14 Wednesdays and Saturdays 16h.

    more in French here at the parrish site with photos
    http://www.saint-vincent-baises.com/monein.php

    You must see it.

    church Saint Girons belltower organ of church side back of St Girons left side of St Girons right side of St Girons
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    église Saint André, SdB

    by gwened Written Aug 23, 2014

    Church St Andrews, a wonderful stop indeed. The Church from the 12C to 13C is fortified in the romanesque gothic style.

    On its tympan or front porch you see represented Saint Mathieu (as a Young men), Saint Marc (as a lion), Saint Luke (as a bull), and Saint Jean (John) (as an eagle). On the South side of the Church you will see a door reserve to the cagots, a category in the population deem of the lowest levels in the social scale but admitted to the Christian community.

    Some tourist historical information on it , It has a length of 35 meters, a width of 20 meters and at the top of its spire, it reaches the 27 meters. It has 3 naves (the central nave has a height of 13 meters), an apse and two apsidal chapels, a transept with 2 beautiful roses. Its Bell Tower, its cover with roof of 4 sides, and on each of its 4 sides, you can see 3 bays encrusted, the Central column surmounted by a pierced tympanum of an oculi. The porch and sacristy are more recent and dates from the end of the 19C. In the mandorla, there is a Christ in Majesty. The entrance portal has only a single arching, but notice the side framing (7 columns from each side surmounted by capitals decorated with vegetative motifs in general, some of them presenting figures.

    A really nice Church with great views of the valley and gave d’Oloron river below it. Not much is written on it on the tourist sites but it should be and it is the main thing to see in Sauveterre de Béarn,
    http://pratique.tourisme64.com/activite/?engine=act&acttype=culture&ville=26252&lat=43.3995&lon=-0.939722&zoom=13&scale=0.028237512026542788&submit=

    Church of Saint Andrews altar of st Andr�� chapel of virgin and child nave of st Andr�� belltower side to city of church
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    Viscounts Castle of Gaston Fébus, SdB

    by gwened Written Aug 23, 2014

    This is old, it was set up here by Gaston VII Moncade and then improved and enlarged by Gaston Fébus the old viscounts of the region of Béarn. Now mostly in dept 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques, region of Aquitaine.

    The bridges and levies over the river or gave d’Oloron are replaced by a fortified bridge like the Pont de la Légende, and towers or Tour Monréal, brough up for defense of the area with a lookout more than 30 meters high done on the rocky cliff over the river.

    Gaston VII was the first to built a castle here where he died in 1290. The successor is Gaston Fébus who does the rest. The castel is attacked by the Spanish, destroyed by the Basques in 1569. Today the castle is a polygonal irregular with a square tower. The walls of the surroundings and the bays, like windows, chimneys etc were partially restored. It is on a trail of properties belonging to Gaston Fébus telling the history of the region of Béarn.

    The descend is nice, and very quaint picturesque natural environment with great views over the river out and from the river in towards the city.

    From my findings on this place with the tourist office I was able to dig a bit more. The story goes that the pont de la Légende (there were two Pont de la Légende and Pont de la Réclusy) link the right back of the gave d’Oloron. However in 1732 a huge flooding took away part of this bridge. It now remains but half of it, both Gaston VII Moncade (1229-1290) , and Gaston Fébus (1349-1391) fortified this bridge and added a tower with an adjoining stairs (still there) , rooms and levy bridge and the entry to this the old Hôpital Saint-Jacques des pèlerins de Compostelle (St James hospital of the pilgrims of Compostela).

    indeed a nice place to visit.

    pont de la l��gende on the gave d'Oloron the pont de la L��gende second portion down to the pont de la L��gende view of gave d'Oloron from castle ruins plaque on history of Gaston F��bus and castle
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    Chateau Moncade at Orthez

    by gwened Updated Aug 22, 2014

    This is a nice ruins of a castle with a nice remaining tower right in city center Orthez. It has great history of two brothers that were given a story to chose two viscount that for not following their allegiance were killed, and went as far as moncade near Barcelona,where they try to choose another, both candidates again one had the hand closed and the other the hands open, the one with the hands open was chosen.
    And that is the story of the name of the castle built around 1242AD.

    The tower is open to the public in May, Saturdays ,Sundays and Holidays from 10h-12h30 and 14h30-18h30. From June onwards it is open every day.

    The city page has more in French.
    http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/?menu=patrimoinehistoire&menupatrimoinehistoire=04

    Chateau Moncade, tower out from castle you climb or have a car
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