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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.

Also worth a visit in Orthez is the Maison Chrestia, a beautiful 18th-century Béarnaise house that was home to the poet Francis Jammes from 1897 to 1907.

Guided tours of Orthez and Château Moncade

From May to October, follow our guide to discover Orthez's must-see monuments. From the Pont Vieux to the Maison Jeanne d'Albret, with the Château Moncade as the highlight, these tours will reveal the history of the medieval town.

Country walks around Orthez

From the château, take the Chemin de la Coudanne down into the Moncade woods to reach the Lac du Grècq (10-minute walk), or perhaps opt for a short hike in the Bois de Laqueyre ? 
As a family, the Terra Aventura trail is an original way for children to explore Orthez. A real treasure hunt, it involves solving riddles to discover the mystery word!

Orthez also has a beach!

There's no need to travel miles to enjoy a fine sandy beach! Water sports and outdoor activities are available at the Orthez-Biron leisure centre. It's the beach in the countryside: fresh water and green banks!

For gourmets

On Tuesday mornings, take advantage of the market to savour some local specialities, and at lunchtime head for a traditional restaurant.

For children

Because heritage isn't just for grown-ups, the discovery booklet "Je découvre Orthez, la vieille ville" (I'm discovering Orthez, the old town) is a fun way for children to wander around the town. There are lots of little games for all the family to discover Orthez and its history. This booklet is available free of charge from the Tourist Office.

Download the child discovery booklet "I discover Orthez, the old town"

  • 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

Guided tours 

Orthez, the medieval town and Château Moncade : 

Follow the guide through the streets of the town to discover the historic heart of Orthez and the Château Moncade.

Opening times 2024, visits at 10.30 am on : 

- Friday 10 May

- Monday 10 and 24 June

- Monday 8, 15 and 22 July

- Thursday 1, 8 and 22 August; Monday 5, 12, 19 and 26 August

- Monday 30th September

- Monday 14 October 

Meet at the Tourist Office

Prices : 

Full price: €6

Reduced rate (students, jobseekers): €5

Youth rate (6 to 16 years): €3

Family package (2 adults + 2 young people): €15

Free for children under 6

Reservations required online or by telephone on 05 59 12 30 40

Follow the guide 

Guided tours for groups all year round by prior arrangement.

Rens / résa au 05 59 12 30 40 ou contactcoeurdebearn.com 

Individual guided tours of the town from May to October