Stage ton for the 5e time Prefecture of Landes
Personalities: Alain Juppé (former Prime Minister), Luis Ocana (cycling). André and Guy Boniface, Thomas Castaignède, Benoît Dauga, Olivier Roumat (rugby). Joël Bats (football). Hélène Darroze (chef). Charles Desplau and Robert Wiérick (sculptors). Catherine and Marguerite de Navarre (queens of Navarre).
Specialities: foie gras from the Landes. Farmhouse duck from the Landes. Armagnac.
Sport: Stade montois (rugby). Basket Landes (French champions).
Events: Landes races. Sud-Ouest Mounride.
By bike: the Scandibérique passes through Mont-de-Marsan.
Economy: food industry (Delpeyrat, Maïsadour), wood industry, Mont-de-Marsan air base. Administrations. Commerce.
Festivals: Fiestas de la Madeleine (July). Arte Flamenco (July). Mont-de-Marsan Sculptures. Festival Atout Cœurs (May). Festival de Tréteaux (August). Les Foulées Roses (October).
Labels: commune sport pour tous (4 stars). Ville fleurie (4*)
Websites / social networks: www.montdemarsan.fr, www.montdemarsan-tourisme.fr
MONT-DE-MARSAN AND CYCLING
For cycling fans, Mont-de-Marsan is above all linked to Luis Ocana, who revealed himself there at the beginning of his career and achieved his first successes in town. Son of Spanish emigrants settled in Gers, a department with which he kept links all his life, the young Luis became a citizen of Mont-de-Marsan in 1963 when, spotted by the president of the local club, Pierre Cescutti, he donned its yellow and black colours. Thanks to his numerous successes in the amateur ranks, notably in the mountains and in time trials, his opponents nicknamed him "the Spaniard of Mont-de-Marsan". He turned professional in 1968 with Spanish team Fagor and chose to keep his original nationality. His first successes came the following year and from 1970, when he won the Vuelta, he asserted himself as one of Eddy Merckx's main rivals. The 1971 Tour de France established his legend: Yellow Jersey after having relentlessly harassed the Cannibal, Luis Ocana was caught in a collective crash on the descent of the col de Menté and was forced to abandon. Bad luck was often part of his life, but the "Spaniard from Mont-de-Marsan" finally clinched his greatest victory in 1973 by winning the Tour in the absence of his Belgian rival. He never reached these heights again and his post-career was marked by accidents, health problems and financial difficulties that led him to end his life at his home in Gers in 1994. Mont-de-Marsan has already twice hosted stage starts of the Tour de France, in 1960 and 1971, each time crowning a true champion: Roger Rivière in 1960 in Pau and Eddy Merckx in 1971 in Bordeaux. The city has also hosted the Tour de l'Avenir three times.
Construction: 13th to 16th centuries.
Style: fortified house
Characteristics: this is not a "keep" as such, but two clearly identifiable contiguous buildings built of shell stone. They are two Romanesque houses attached to each other. This fortified complex served as an observation post and defence tower.
History: the houses, built inside the ramparts, contributed to the protection of the town on the Midou side, towards which the town extended in the 13th century. The houses belonged to the Viscounts of Marsan, who abandoned them when they moved away from the town. Margaret of Navarre (sister of Francis I and grandmother of Henry IV) found her "hermitage", a place of retreat and meditation, sheltered by the walls of Mont-de-Marsan. She lived either at Lacataye or at Château Vieux (Old Castle). Later, the "keep" was used as barracks.
Current use: since 1968, the building has housed the Desplau-Wiérick Museum, dedicated to two local sculptors, Charles Desplau and Robert Wiérick.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1942.
Construction: second half of the 13th century.
Characteristics: In addition to the Lacataye keep, Mont-de-Marsan has four other fortified "Romanesque houses", vestiges of the city's defensive system set up after its foundation. The first, located in the immediate vicinity of the Lacataye keep, houses the Dubalen museum (an archaeological museum which can only be visited by appointment). A second house in Rue Macataye is used as the town hall's office accommodation. Two other houses are located in rue Maubec and are built against the old ramparts.
Listed as: Historical Monuments in 1929, then 1942 and 1984.
Construction: 13th century.
History: when it was founded in 1133 by Pierre de Marsan, the town was the seat of the Viscounty of Marsan and had a defensive vocation. Equipped with walls, it had five gates, named according to the direction towards which they opened: the gates of Roquefort, Campet, Saint-Sever, Aire and Tartas. Each of them was flanked by a high tower. The original entrance to the town was through the Roquefort gate, giving access to the Bourg-Neuf district. The ramparts, about ten metres high, are built of large shell stones from the neighbouring quarries of Uchacq, the building material of all the old buildings in the town.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1942.
Church of the Madeleine
History: the church was built by architect Augustin Arthaud, who was responsible for the restoration of the entire district. The church was built in place of the previous place of worship, which had collapsed in 1821.
Characteristics: the neoclassical style of the pediment is inspired by the Madeleine church in Paris, and the peristyle is reminiscent of the rotunda of the Vignotte. Inside, there is a marble high altar, the work of the Mazzetti brothers, surrounded by woodwork. The main fresco, by Berthe Grimard-Baudet, is dedicated to Saint Magdalena.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1975.
Capacity: 7,100 seats.
History: organised since the 18th century, bullfighting took place on Place Saint-Roch, in wooden arenas which caught fire in 1878. Jules Dupouy, the town's architect, was commissioned to build a permanent bullring, which was inaugurated in 1889. It was enlarged in 1933. Every year in July, it hosts five bullfights during the Madeleine festival.
Listed as 20th century heritage since 2007.
Rotunda of la Vignotte
History: in 1808, Napoleon I, passing through Mont-de-Marsan, offered the site of the Vignotte to the Agricultural Society. From 1811 onwards, the Society built a neoclassical rotunda in honour of agriculture, commerce and the arts. David-François Panay was the architect. Due to a lack of funds, the rotunda was handed over to private contractors. It was not reopened to the public until 2016.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1986.
Landes farm duck
The Landes farm duck is one of eight products to be awarded the Landes Quality label. It is raised in the open air for more than 102 days. Since April 2003 and for the first time, the Label Rouge has been extended to cooked products, a guarantee of quality processing. Fed on whole grain corn from the South-West, it is reared with the greatest respect for tradition and follows a very strict set of specifications. It can be eaten in a thousand different ways: duck breast, aiguillettes, foies gras, confits. The farmhouse duck from the Landes is also protected by a PGI.