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Orthez, once the capital of Béarn

Orthez and its history

Orthez, 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 plage

The Orthez-Biron leisure centre offers outdoor and boating activities. A beach in the countryside: freshwater and green banks!

Orthez gourmet

On Tuesday mornings wander the market and try some local specialities and when lunchtime comes around eat at a traditional restaurant or one which has a Maître-restaurateur certification.

Follow the guide 

Guided tours of the town on July and August, every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 am.

Rendez-vous at the Tourist Office  - 1 rue des Jacobins.

Duration 2h

Prices :

Full price : 4 € - Reduced price : 2 € (students, job-seekers)

Aged 12 to 16: 2 € - Under  12 : free

Information & Inscriptions :

Tourist Office Cœur de Béarn - 05.59.12.30.40

  • The Moncade Castle in Orthez
    The keep of the Moncade Castle in Orthez
  • The Pont Vieux in Orthez
    The Pont Vieux in Orthez
  • The Jeanne d'Albret Museum in Orthez
    The Jeanne d'Albret Museum in Orthez
  • The Orthez-Béarn Leisure Centre
    The supervised beach of the Orthez-Biron Leisure Centre
  • The market of Orthez
    The market of Orthez on Tuesday morning
  • The Moncade Castle in Orthez
  • The Pont Vieux in Orthez
  • The Jeanne d'Albret Museum in Orthez
  • The Orthez-Béarn Leisure Centre
  • The market of Orthez