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Béarn travel guide

Photo of Béarn

Visit Béarn (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)

Béarn is a historical region of south-west France that now forms the eastern part of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department (the western part of the department is the three provinces that make up the French Pays Basque region).

The region has a very long history, and was an independent province before it became a French province in 1620. 2000 years ago it was occupied by a tribe called the Benarni, which is where the name Béarn comes from.

Explore Béarn

France This Way comment: it is the southern part of the Béarn that is of most interest to visitors, because of the access to the hiking opportunities in the western Pyrenees south of Laruns, but several of the towns and villages in the north of the region are also interesting to visit when you are here.

The Béarn area has the town of Laruns to the south, Pau to the east and Sauveterre-de-Béarn to the north-west. It is crossed from south-west to north-east by two rivers: the Gave de Pau (between Pau and Orthez) and the Gave d'Oloron (between Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Sauveterre-de-Béarn).

Pau town centre

The principal town is Pau, which has several buildings of interest and a pleasant town centre, and is best known for the boulevard that has far-reaching views to the Pyrénées about 40 kilomtres to the south. See the Pau guide.

The most picturesque group of towns and villages is in the north-west Béarn in the area called the Béarn des Gaves. Although none will take you long to visit each has a highlight of interest:

  • in Orthez you can see a lovely 13th century bridge,
  • in Salies-de-Béarn the area around the river is picturesque,
  • in Sauveterre-de-Béarn there is a very impressive view across the river and the remains of an ancient bridge from the area in front of the church
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As you travel south along the Gave d'Oloron through the region you pass the pretty village of Laas with its castle and then reach Navarrenx, where you can see another attractive section of river as well as an extensive part of the ramparts that once defended the town.

In Oloron-Sainte-Marie the cathedral Sainte-Marie is perhaps the main highlight, and there is a pretty section of river in the town centre with houses built along the rock above the Gave d'Ossau. South of Oloron-Sainte-Marie the valley of the Gave d'Aspe leads to Sarrance and Lescun (with the Cirque de Lescun).

Although the high mountains of the Pyrenees are outside the Béarn region, to the east of here, the countryside south of Oloron is where you will find the most dramatic scenery in the region.

There are numerous trails that you can follow to reach the lakes and mountain peaks here: of course, as with all mountain hikes these usually require proper walking equipment and planning.

The road to the south through Laruns that leads to the Col d'Aubisque via Eaux-Bonnes and Gourette and also to the Pic du Midi d'Ossau is the easiest way to reach the mountains, A second road south from Oloron-Sainte-Marie allows you to cross the western Pyrénées and reach Spain.

View of river in Sauveterre-de-Bearn

Attractions nearby

The western part of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, between Béarn and the Atlantic coast, is called the Pays Basque region. It is among the most visited destinations in France, with Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and several very pretty villages among its attractions.

To the east of Béarn you reach the beautiful scenery of the high Pyrénées, and the famous mountain passes that are used during the Tour de France every year such as the Col du Tourmalet. There are fewer towns and villages here, and it is the outdoor activities that are the attraction. See the Hautes-Pyrénées guide for information.

See also: 

Map of Béarn and places nearby

 
Publicité
 

Visit near Béarn with France This Way reviews

Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

The cathedral of Sainte-Marie is best known for its remarkable 12th century entrance

Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide
Chateau de Pau

Chateau de Pau

The Chateau de Pau is an impressive combination of the renaissance and 19th century architectural styles

Chateau de Pau guide
Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

The Church Sainte-Croix is an interesting roman style church built in the 12th century

Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide
Col d'Aubisque

Col d'Aubisque

The Col d'Aubisque is a beautiful mountain pass with views of numerous high mountains in the Pyrenees

Col d'Aubisque guide
Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes is a 19th century belle-epoque spa town at the base of the Col d'Aubisque

Eaux-Bonnes guide
Gourette

Gourette

Gourette s a small ski station on the route to the Col d'Aubisque near Eaux-Bonnes

Gourette guide
Laas

Laas

Laas is a pretty village with a castle and roman style church in the gave d'Oloron valley

Laas guide
Laruns

Laruns

Laruns is a pretty village, but it is the surrounding mountain scenery that attracts most visitors here

Laruns guide
Lescun

Lescun

The village of Lescun is close to the Cirque de Lescun and other scenic highlights in the western pyrenees

Lescun guide
Navarrenx

Navarrenx

Navarrenx is a traditional fortified French bastide town in the western pyrenees

Navarrenx guide
Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Oloron-Sainte-Marie

There are several sights of interest in Oloron-Saint-Marie including a picturesque section of river

Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide
Orthez

Orthez

The 13th century stone bridge across the river is the highlight of your visit to Orthez

Orthez guide
Pau

Pau

The large town of Pau is well known for the views from the belvedere that cover a large section of Pyrenees mountains

Pau guide
Saint-Palais

Saint-Palais

Saint-Palais is a small town on the Bidouze river in the historic Navarre region of south-west France

Saint-Palais guide
Salies-de-Bearn

Salies-de-Bearn

The small town of Salies-de-Bearn is a pleasure to explore, and a nice place to visit when you are passing through the region

Salies-de-Bearn guide
Sarrance

Sarrance

The small village of Sarrance is in the valley of the Gave d'Aspe and has an interesting church to visit

Sarrance guide
Sauveterre church of Saint-André

Sauveterre church of Saint-André

The church of Saint-André in Sauveterre is an interesting and charming roman style church built in the 12th century

Sauveterre church of Saint-André guide
Sauveterre-de-Bearn

Sauveterre-de-Bearn

The view from the terrace in front of the church in Sauveterre-de-Béarn is one of our favourites in the Basque Pyrenees region

Sauveterre-de-Bearn guide

The French version of this page is at Béarn (Francais)

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