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Navarrenx travel guide

Photo of Navarrenx

Visit Navarrenx (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)

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Navarrenx is an attractive village in the beautiful Béarn province of south-west France, at the south end of the area called the Béarn des gaves and now listed among the 'most beautiful villages in France'.

Explore Navarrenx

France This Way comment: we enjoyed a visit to Navarrenx, especially for the views across the houses and the river from the fortified walls that surround the town

Although the main attraction here is the walk along the fortified walls, 10 metres high that surround the village, the centre is also pleasant to explore so start at Navarrenx tourist office on the corner of Place des Casernes so you can ask for a guide to other notable sites in the centre.

bridge in Navarrenx

On the sides of the square you can see the Saint-Antoine barracks - these are more recent than the fortified walls and we are told they could house up to 500 soldiers.

Next to the barracks there is a flight of stairs up to the rampart walls and where you can see the Saint-Antoine gate. The city originally only had two entrances through the walls and this is one of them. The gate originally had a drawbridge to further improve its ability to defend the town.

Walk along the terrace to the bastion, from where you have a good view of the Saint-Antoine gate as well as a lovely view across the river, the Gave d'Oloron, and the bridge. The bastions that you can see in various places along the walls were built to allow the other parts of the walls to be watched and protected and were quite original at that time.

The original 13th century bridge was built by Gaston VII and then fortified in 1538 by Henri II d'Albret, at the same time the fortifications around the town were built. The bridge originally had a sentry tower, and was in turn overlooked by watchtowers on the ramparts.

If you go back down to street level you will see a square stone building, the poudrière, which is where the gunpowder was stored after 1580. You can step inside to see the spacious interior. Before 1580 the gunpowder was stored in the aisles of the church!

If you follow Rue Saint-Antoine towards the east you pass a renaissance style house where Jeanne d'Albret once lived (she was later to become Queen of Navarre and Béarn), although there is little to remind us of the historic interest of the house apart from a decorative stone surround around the doorway and a small plaque.

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Further along the same street in Navarrenx you reach the church. The church was built in the 16th century as a catholic church, although it briefly become a protestant church under the rule of Jeanne d'Albret. You can see several carved heads inside the church.

Beyond the church you can go back up the ramparts to see the Bastion de Contremines. If you go to the bottom of this bastion you will find a doorway that leads into an underground gallery - a torch is useful at this point!

Follow the ramparts anti-clockwise to the next bastion, which originally provided defence for the second gate into the town (the Gate of Saint-Germain, now disappeared, although there is a picture showing what the gate looked like just outside the walls).

From here you can complete your visit to Navarrrenx by walking back through the town centre. Along the way you will see the military fountain which ensured a supply of water for the town when it was under siege, the courtyard of the arsenal, on your left in Rue Saint-Germain, which is one of the most imposing buildings in the town centre, as well as at the 19th century town hall.

Outside the centre of Navarrenx there are several places where you can see the outside of the fortified walls, and see various watchtowers and remains of the original moat, now dry. Two picnic areas have also been established.

Navarrenx has held its weekly market on a Wednesday since the 1500’s and during summer months there is an additional market on a Sunday morning. The town is also home to many artisans, potters and painters, and is on an important pilgrimage route to Spain.

fortified walls in Navarrenx

Attractions nearby

Navarrenx, together with nearby Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Sauveterre-de-Bearn, has hosted the World Salmon Fishing Championships for over 40 years. Navarrenx holds an annual Salmon festival and the splendid figure of a fisherman and his salmon on one of the roundabouts leading into the town, are testaments to its importance.

Also for the sports enthusiast there are tennis courts and swimming baths. Close to the centre of town is the Fronton where you may be lucky enough to catch sight of pelote, a sport which is very much associated with the Pays Basque.

In addition to the more well-known towns in Béarn such as Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Sauveterre-de-Bearn there are many pretty little villages just waiting to be discovered in the surrounding region.

Explore elsewhere in the Béarn. You can find more travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

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Photos of Navarrenx

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  • bridge
  • church
  • fortifications (1)
  • fortifications (2)
  • fortifications (3)
  • fortifications (4)
  • fortifications (5)
  • main-square-2
  • main-square
  • mairie
  • roof-over-gate
  • view-river
  • village-houses (1)
  • village-houses (2)
  • village-houses (3)

Map of Navarrenx and places nearby

 
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Visit near Navarrenx with France This Way reviews

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Address: Navarrenx, Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Aquitaine, 64190, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 43.3228, longitude -0.758056

Plan your visit to Navarrenx, Pyrenees-Atlantiques

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Eglise St Blaise (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (8 km)
  • Oloron-Sainte-Marie: town of art and history (19 km)
  • Eglise, Oloron-Sainte-Marie (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (19 km)
  • Jardin du château de Momas: remarkable garden (29 km)
  • Pau: ville fleurie 4* (32 km)
  • Sorde l'Abbaye - abbaye St Jean (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (33 km)
  • Jardins du château de Viven: remarkable garden (35 km)
  • Cirque de Sainte-Engrâce: site of natural beauty (37 km)
  • Cirque de Saint-Engrace: site of natural beauty (37 km)
  • Gorges d'Holzarté: site of natural beauty (38 km)
  • Gorges de Kakouetta: site of natural beauty (38 km)
  • Gorges de Kakoetta: site of natural beauty (38 km)

Market days in Navarrenx, France

Regular market(s) are held in Navarrenx each Wednesday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

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

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