The castles of Béarn, magical medieval tours

Pau
The castles of Béarn, ...

Do you want to visit fortified castles, impressive medieval fortresses, or those beautiful Renaissance palaces? Do you dream of playing the role of a knight on the occasion of a medieval festival, of leading the life of a castle during the holidays, or are you simply a lover of old stones? From the height of its thousand years of history, Béarn has many tumultuous adventures to tell you and vestiges of the past to discover.

Crossed by the “ Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle ”, the lands of the great Albret family were highly coveted. Birthplace of illustrious warriors, the most famous of which is Henri IV, but also of the military company of the “ Cadets de Gascogne ”, the art of war is anchored in the traditions and fortification walls of Béarn. We take you on a magical and mysterious journey through time and the castles of Béarn...

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Pau castle

The Château de Pau (fr) has a long history and its function has evolved over the centuries. The feudal castle was transformed into an impregnable fortress by Gaston Fébus. The Albret family and the kings of Navarre will make it a royal residence. This Renaissance palace saw the birth of Henri IV.

After numerous restorations, it will be transformed into a National Museum in homage to this emblematic character. On this estate, Maison Baylaucq hosts temporary exhibitions. You can also walk in a wooded park of 22 hectares, classified " Natura 2000 ".

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Follow us for a visit to the charming city of Pau and its castle of course!


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Photo @Lesley Williamson

The remarkable gardens of Château de Viven

Around Pau, the Gardens of Château de Viven are classified as “ Remarkable Gardens ”. You will admire superb French gardens and a cascading rose garden. A refreshing and bucolic break is required at the edge of its basin. It is also a center for research, cultural experimentation and protection of biodiversity. Beautiful discoveries await you in the vegetable garden, designed using the "lasagna" technique.  

Did you know Growing on lasagna is a concept combining recycling and composting in order to create a vegetable garden, with a very low contribution of soil and therefore in unsuitable spaces (terrace, concrete courtyard, etc.). It is widely used in raised vegetable gardens.


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Read our report on a walk in the Gardens of Château de Viven (fr) 



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The magnificent Château de Viven and its gardens

Montaner Castle, witness to the 100 Years War

The Château de Montaner is built near Pau, on the edge of the Béarn lands, on the border with Armagnac. Imagined by Gaston Fébus, the most famous lord of Béarn, nicknamed the “ Prince of the Pyrenees ”, it is a typical fortified castle from the Middle Ages. A fine strategist and confirmed military man, he is an emblematic character of the 100 Years War. Recognized for his hunting skills, he was one of the renowned writers of his time. During guided tours and activities, you will discover the history of this prince from Bearn. You will also be able to better understand life and crafts in the Middle Ages and appreciate the expertise of the manuscript copyists of the time.


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The Château de Montaner; Photo @Chateau de Montaner  

Morlanne castle

The Château de Morlanne (fr) is another defensive unit, built under the leadership of Gaston Fébus, one of the lords most builders of Béarn. The visit will take you through this construction, made of stones and bricks, original for medieval times. You can also admire a beautiful collection of art objects. A room is dedicated to the renovation work carried out by the Ritters couple. Then you wander freely in the gardens, with its hundred-year-old trees. You finish the route by climbing to the top of the keep and on the rampart walk to enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the Pyrenees.


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Morlanne Castle

Moncade castle

We continue our tour of the “ Fébusian castles ”, with the Château Moncade, in Orthez. This time, it is its defensive system that makes it remarkable : its moat, its enclosure and its dungeon with ogival door. The model will allow you to better understand the scope of this site at its peak.


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Laas Castle and its Enigma Castle  

Laas Castle is a beautiful 18th century building, whose last owners, the Serbats, brought there a remarkable collection of decorative art objects. Significant of this French art of living of the Age of Enlightenment, it constitutes the collection of the Serbat museum (fr). The originality of the museum is the presentation of the works. You enter a house of nobility, as it was inhabited by its owners in the 18th century.

Outside, the estate is divided into several areas for you to appreciate the French and Italian gardens, an exotic garden typical of the 19 th century, a vegetable garden and a conservatory orchard. The Château des Énigmes is a treasure hunt course, to experience the life of the Musketeers with the family. It is a fun and informative ride that will amuse the most children of all ages.

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The Château de Laas also offers you unusual accommodation in the perched cabins in the heart of the park : Les Cabanes du Temps Suspended!

Momas Castle and its remarkable gardens

This house of the 14th century and its listed gardens are maintained by an association. They have a greenhouse, a vegetable garden and an orchard, with old and sometimes rare species. It is a site with old-fashioned charm, which offers a timeless break. The members of the association and the owners will know how to transmit their passion for this place, which has a vocation of conservatory and transmission of knowledge.


The Maison Carrée de Nay


This is a Renaissance house dated 16th century. Its atypical square architecture gave it its name. The Maison Carrée de Nay now houses the Musée de l'Industrie du Pays de Nay (fr), with a fine permanent collection of textiles and cabinetry. There are also temporary exhibitions.


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The Maison Carrée de Nay ; Photo @Maison Carrée de Nay  

Mascaraas castle

This castle, renovated in the 17th century, is private. During this very intimate visit, the owner takes you from room to room in this still inhabited house. It is a special moment that allows you to enjoy the time of a visit to the life of a castle.  


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The Castle of Mascaraas

Coarraze castle

Florentine style, it is a particularly interesting and very complete architectural ensemble. You visit the castle with its tower and its outbuildings for the interiors…; terraces, stables, orangery, gardens, with vegetable patch, orchard, woods, and the canal outside.


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The Monréal Tower in Sauveterre-de-Béarn

The Tour Monréal in Sauveterre-de-Béarn is one of the vestiges of the city's struggle against Charles V. Its main asset is its exceptional model of the city. Around it, explanations are provided on the history and heritage of Sauveterre, Béarn and Navarre.


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Our walk through the history of the Béarn castles ends. We hope that these beautiful monuments have inspired you for your next stay in the region, between historical and cultural discovery, and magical walks in the heart of these old stones.


Did you like our article? Find more on our Blog.

Follow us on the Guide du Béarn-Pyrénées Facebook page and on Instagram @guidebearnpyrenees.

 

Article written by Stéphanie Tempier for the Guide du Béarn Pyrénées.


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