Orthez village (Picture: City of Orthez)
Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, at the crossroads of Chalosse, the Basque area and Bigorre, Orthez is a must stop in the Bearn region, between sea and mountain. Former capital of Bearn, Orthez was at the height of its grandeur and prosperity under the Princes of Bearn-Foix. The town has a rich architectural and historical heritage: Moncade Castle, home to the lavish court of Gaston Phoebus in the 14th century, royal home of Jeanne d’Albret (mother of Henri IV), Pont-Vieux fortified bridge... Orthez is just the spot for a bit of cultural tourism (Moncade Museum, Jeanne d’Albret Museum, Museum of Protestantism in Bearn, home of the poet Francis Jammes...) and for aquatic leisure activities (leisure center, white water rafting). Orthez is also a stop on the road to Compostella. With the delicious local gastronomy and a host of festive events (bullfights, jazz festival, book fair, markets...), Orthez gives you a taste of a France where the living is easy.
Ski resorts (Picture: Tourism Office of Gourette)
Aubisque is a mountain pass situated in the department of Atlantic Pyrenees, at an altitude of 5,600 ft. Aubisque has earned a special place in Tour de France lore.
In the early years, the race organizers shied away from high altitudes, but they finally took the plunge in 1910, with a mammoth Pyrenean stage. The steepest climb starts out in Eaux-Bonnes, with slopes from 7.5 to 10%. To reach Aubisque, one has to go through Gourette ski resort.
In 2005, Gourette was turned into the largest mountain construction site in France. Local authorities spent over 50 million euros to extend the skiing domain and improve facilities, making Gourette one of the most modern resorts in the Pyrenees. Today, with high-speed cable cars, chairs lifts with a clutch mechanism, a bigger skiing domain, snow-blowers and a special area for beginners, everyone gets a good time at Gourette in the wintertime!