Orthez, once the capital of Béarn
Orthez and its historyOrthez, the old capital of Béarn is a small town situated between Pau and Bayonne. It was founded in the middle ages and its streets have echoed to some of the great events of French history.
In the very centre of the town, the keep of the Moncade Castle stands witness to Gaston Fébus', the 14th century lord and his ambition to turn Béarn into a Pyrenean State. The keep which is 110 m high is the highest point in town.
Walking down rue Moncade on the Chemin de Compostella pilgrim route, at 14 rue de l'Horloge you'll find the courtyard of the Hôtel de la Lune, a magnificent medieval dwelling from the 15th century.
Keep walking through the Old Town and enter the Jeanne d'Albret Museum to have an understanding of the influence that protestantism had over Béarn. Then follow the road to the Pont Vieux, the old bridge proudly astride the Gave de Pau. Gaston Fébus made this bridge emblematic of his town. His motto: “Touch it if you dare” !
From the Pont Vieux, have a look at the Moutète market which was the very temple of French basketball during the 1980s.
Orthez and its walks
From the château walk through the Moncade vineyards to the lac du Grècq (10 minutes on foot).
Orthez plageThe Orthez-Biron leisure centre offers outdoor and boating activities. A beach in the countryside: freshwater and green banks!
Orthez for children
The children will discover Orthez while having fun with the child discovery booklet "I discover Orthez, the old town". Inside the booklet, plenty of games for a family discovery of Orthez. The Booklet is free and available at the tourist office.