Orthez, Pyrenees-Atlantiques: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Orthez (Aquitaine region)

Visit Orthez (Aquitaine, France)

The town of Orthez is in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of Aquitaine, 60 kilometres inland from the coast at Bayonne and 40 kilometres north-west of Pau.

The historical importance of Orthez arose in part because of its role as a pilgrimage town: the town is on the pilgrim route that leads to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and an important point for crossing the river. It was an important regional centre during the early middle ages.

Exploring Orthez

The 13th-14th century stone bridge across the Gave de Pau (the river), is undoubtedly the most impressive sight in the town. It has an unusual gateway-tower halfway across the arched bridge: the bridge originally had two of these defensive towers, and the central part of the bridge was connected to the river banks by wooden platforms which could easily be removed if the town was attacked*.

*The bridge successfully protected the town on two occasions: the first in 1569 during the Wars of Religion, and then again in 1814 when the bridge successfully resisted the troops of Wellinton, as he pursued a retreating Napoleon.

Clustered around the bridge, the town itself contains some interesting medieval houses.

Other sites of interest in Orthez include

  • the Church of Saint-Pierre that dates in part from the 12th century and contains some sculptures worthy of attention (note that the belltower was added in the 19th century).
  • the pentagonal tower, called the Tour Moncade and dating from 1250, is all that remains of the castle that once stood here.

Be sure to visit the Orthez Tourist office to admire the 16th century stone townhouse called the Maison Jeanne d'Albret, where the mother of Henry IV lived.

Market day in Orthez is Tuesday.

Attractions in the region

Apart from exploring the other towns and villages in the region such as Salies-de-Bearn, Navarrenx and Sauveterre-de-Bearn, we recommend you take a trip to Biarritz about 70km to the west (one of our favourite resorts in France).

The Pyrenees are accessible to the south of Orthez.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also:

Map of Orthez and places nearby

Visit near Orthez with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Pyrenees-Atlantiques

Address: Orthez, Pau, Aquitaine, 64300, France || GPS: latitude 43.489, longitude -0.769

Plan your visit to Orthez, Pyrenees-Atlantiques

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Hagetmau: ville fleurie 4* (23 km)
  • Sorde l'Abbaye - abbaye St Jean (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (23 km)
  • Eglise St Blaise (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (26 km)
  • Jardin du château de Momas: remarkable garden (27 km)
  • Parc du Sarrat: remarkable garden (33 km)

Market days in Orthez, France

Regular market(s) are held in Orthez each Tuesday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

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