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Stage town for the 15th time
Prefecture of Hautes-Pyrénées
Population: 42,500 (Tarbais), and 127,000 for the 86 communes of the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Agglomeration Community
Personalities : Théophile Gautier (poet), Isidore Ducasse known as the Count of Lautréamont (poet), Maréchal Ferdinand Foch (born in Tarbes in 1851), Paolo Coelho (writer, honorary citizen of Tarbes), Yvette Horner (accordionist), David Fray (pianist), Lionel Beauxis (rugby), Mathieu Crépel (snowboard), Bastien Montès (world champion speed skier) Gaël, Damien and Anne-Lise Touya (world and Olympic medallists, fencing)
Specialities: foie gras, garbure, haricots tarbais, spit cake
Sport: 16,750 members in 147 associations. Clubs: Tarbes Gespe Bigorre (TGB, women's basketball league), Stado TPR (rugby XV), Amicale tarbaise d'escrime, Parachutisme Tarbes Bigorre (Déborah Ferrand, gold medal at the world championships and Sylvain Ferroni, bronze medalist at the world championships), Pilotari Club tarbais (Pierre-Adrien Casteran and Benoit Chatelier, world champions Paleta leather), Badminton Athlétic tarbais (David Toupé world champion Parabadminton).
Events : International Tennis Tournament "Les petits As" (January), French Shooting Championships (February, in 2018 and 2020), International Chess Tournament (March), French Sports Rescue Championships 2018 (minimes, cadets, juniors and seniors), International Basque Pelota Tournament (May), the Tarb'elles (October, women's race), Lourdes-Tarbes Half Marathon (November), Sabre d'Or (fencing, November). Cycling club: Tarbes Cycliste Compétition
Economy: Alstom Transport, Daher (aeronautics), Tarmac (aircraft dismantling). Rehabilitation of the former Giat Industries site into a living area (leisure, health, industry, etc.). Garrison town: 35th parachute artillery regiment and 1st parachute hussar regiment (over 2,000 soldiers). 2nd university town in the Midi-Pyrénées (6,000 students)
Festivals: Pic d'Or (May, artistic meetings of French-speaking singers), Tarba en Canta (traditional songs, June), Fêtes de Tarbes (June), Equestria (July), Festival européen de la création équestre (July), Tarbes en Tango (August), Terro'Art (art and gastronomy, September), Fête des fleurs (October)
Labels: active and sporty city / 5 @ internet city / 4 flower city / ApiCité (3 bees) / Quality Tourism / Tourism for the disabled / Jardin Massey classified as a remarkable garden.
Websites / social networks:  /  /  / www.facebook/  /  /  

Le festival de tango de Tarbes © © Mairie de Tarbes
Des gateaux à la broche © © Mairie de Tarbes
Hôtel de ville de Tarbes © © Mairie de Tarbes


In 2019, Tarbes was the launching pad for one of the most beautiful victories of Thibaut Pinot's career, crowned at the Tourmalet, and on orbit for a place on the Tour de France podium until an injury forced him to abandon on the road to Tignes. This was the last of three successes for the Frenchman, who has since struggled to regain the exceptional level he reached that day. In 1951, it was on the road to Tarbes that Wim Van Est, wearing the Yellow Jersey, nosedived into a ravine after the Aubisque pass. He lost the lead in the general classification but saved his life. The next day, between Tarbes and Luchon, Hugo Koblet took the overall lead and kept it until Paris. Wim Van Est will go down in history as the first Dutchman to wear the Yellow Jersey, but also the pink jersey of the Giro. The "survivor of the Aubisque", who went on to win two stages in the Tour, passed away in 2003 at the age of 80. Two years before his death, a monument was erected in the Aubisque in memory of his fall. His sponsor at the time, Pontiac watches, did not miss the opportunity to use the incident to his advantage with this slogan: "I fell seventy metres, my heart stopped beating, but my Pontiac still worked...". The Aubisque miracle man was a colourful character, who had smuggled cigarettes on his bicycle in his youth and had spent several months in prison. Cycling was his redemption.

Wim Van Est lors du Tour de France 1951 © Pressesports
Thibault Pinot lors du Tour de France 2019 © A.S.O./Thomas MAHEUX


The National Stud Farm in Tarbes
Established: 1806
History: The friendship between man and horse in the Pyrenees goes back more than 20,000 years, as attested by the painted horses in the Niaux cave (Ariège), who are very reminiscent of the Merens horses, the best-known breed in the region. However, it is to the hussars, who transformed Tarbes into a garrison town, that the national stud farm, created by imperial decree, owes its existence. For many years, it was used to provide mounts for the army's most distinguished riders. Set in a nine-hectare park, the stud was one of the few to receive a visit from the Emperor, two years after its creation. Today, it is a harmonious and remarkable Empire-style complex, which does not forget the local soil with its wooden frameworks, solid oak boxes and Adour pebble floors.
Current destination: since the restoration carried out in 1995, the Maison du Cheval houses a museum dedicated to the life and image of the horse in the region. In addition to its traditional activities, the Haras de Tarbes hosts the annual Equestria festival and holds animations on the themes of southern breeds and horse techniques. The stud farm’s most beautiful heritage is however alive and well, with regional breeds such as the Merens horse or the Pyrenean donkey, but above all the Anglo-Arabian breed that the establishment has largely contributed to developing over the last century. In 2016, the stud farm was bought by the town, which has begun a new renovation.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1975.  

Massey garden and its museum
Creation: 19th century.
Characteristics: this 11-hectare park is an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city. Placide Massey, former director of the parks of Versailles, Trianon, Sèvres and Saint-Cloud, donated it to the town in 1853. Inside can be found a 14th century cloister from the Abbey of St Sever de Rustan, a greenhouse and the Massey Museum, dedicated to the Fine Arts and the Hussars.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1890, then 1995. Remarkable garden.  

Birthplace of Marshal Foch
Construction: 18th century.
History: In the heart of the city of Tarbes is the birthplace of Marshal Foch. This beautiful Bigourdan style house, located in the heart of the city in the historic district, gathers memories of the Marshal and his family. At the end of the 1914-1918 war, a plaque reminds visitors that the "Generalissimo" of the Allied armies was born here. The house became a museum in 1951.
Characteristics: this house has a particular architectural interest: exterior gallery with balusters, mantling and windows with marble frames. Inside, there is a beautiful carved wooden staircase imitating 17th century ironwork. It was in this intimate setting that Ferdinand Foch spent the first twelve years of his life. Portraits evoke the man of war, Marshal of France, Great Britain and Poland. One room is dedicated to the recognition of the Allied countries.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1938. Maison des Illustres.  

Notre-Dame de la Sède Cathedral
Construction: 12th and 14th centuries.
Style: Romanesque and Gothic.
History and characteristics: like a fortress on the historical place of power, that of the bishops and prefects, the Notre-Dame de la Sède cathedral houses a number of religious treasures... The building is rough in appearance but endearing as soon as you walk through its door. Initially Romanesque in style, it was built in the 12th century on a Gallo-Roman site, then a Merovingian cemetery. It has been transformed over the years. From the Middle Ages, it has kept its original Latin name, la Sède for "bishop's seat" and the two apses of the choir. The 14th century brought its Gothic nave and the 18th century, among the jewels of the place, the great baroque marble baldachin above the main altar...
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1906.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Sède © Creatives Commons 4.0/Chris06
La maison natale du Maréchal Foch © Creatives Commons 4.0/Olybrius
Le jardin Massey et son musée © © Mairie de Tarbes
Un paon dans le jardin Massey © © Mairie de Tarbes
Festival Equestria à Tarbes © © Mairie de Tarbes
Le haras national de Tarbes © © Mairie de Tarbes


Tarbes beans
Tarbes white beans originated among the first products imported from South America in the 16th century in the holds of Christopher Columbus. The story goes that Catherine de Medici, the future wife of Henry III, disembarked in Marseilles in 1553 and took out of her wedding basket a bag of Fagioli, which would later be called beans. It was planted in the Tarbes plain at the beginning of the 18th century, at the same time as maize, by Monseigneur de Poudenx, bishop of Tarbes. At a time when famine was common, these new miracle foods found an ideal climate and soil in Bigorre. As this dry bean was a climbing plant, it was very quickly associated with maize, whose stalks served as a support. This is how the two plants spread very quickly across the Tarbes plain. In 1881, the crop covered 18,500 hectares and produced around 3,000 tons. Consumption quadrupled and the bean reached its peak. It was a reserve for daily food, trade and the army (Tarbes was a garrison town). In the 1950s, the introduction of high-yielding hybrid maize sounded the death knell for the crop that had ensured the prosperity of Bigorre up until then. However, the Tarbes bean remained an important part of the peasant diet and its seed was jealously guarded by families. In 1986, the Tarbes Chamber of Agriculture and local farmers decided to relaunch production and registered a variety in the official catalogue of varieties in 1998. A cooperative was created in 1988. Its exceptional resistance to cooking gives the Tarbes bean a quality appreciated by restaurant owners, often Michelin-starred, who praise it.

Un bac de haricot tarbais © © Mairie de Tarbes

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