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Cities in the southwest France: history, tourist sites, activities.

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Eight suggestions for touring the southwest of France.

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Traditional dish recipes from southwest part of France.

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Tourist Sites in and around Dax

Tourist sites and attractions within a radius of km* from the city center

* The distances are point to point and not driving distances!

At around: 0 km

Dax City Center The center of the city of Dax can be visited in few hours (this does not include of course visits to the museums or the Sarrat Botanic Garden, etc.). It makes an enjoyable morning or afternoon.
There are many interesting sites that can be seen or visited the most outstanding ones - at least in terms of size and place - being the “Splendid Hotel” and the “Thermes” Residence. The “Splendid Hotel” was built in the second part of the 1920s in “Art Deco” style on the place occupied successively by a viscount castle (11th and 12th century), barracks (16th to 17th century) and a thermal establishment (in the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century) that was destroyed by...

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UNESCO Heritage List At around: 19.9 km

Sorde Monastery The Saint Jean de Sorde monastery, that we can see today, was built in the 17th century on the place of an abbey founded by the Benedictine monks in the 11th century – or as some believe by Charlemagne in the 9th century - , abbey that was a stop for the pilgrims on the “ Turonensis” road to Saint James de Compostela, in Spain. The abbey was in its turn built on the remains of an even older Gallo-Roman villa dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The monastery is now listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage along with all other monuments on the routes to Saint James de Compostela. The Sorde’s stop is mentioned...
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At around: 28.37 km

Salies de Béarn Salies de Béarn owes its existence, prosperity and it's… name to the salty spring - 10 times more salty then the sea water - that runs by.
According to the legend the spring was discovered after a boar hunt when a killed boar was discovered several days later perfectly preserved, its fur covered in salt crystals ( hence a boar on the badge of the town ).
Salt being a very prized commodity in ancient times, a concession system was started in 1587 with only around 500 concessionaires called "Part-Prenants" being allowed to extract the salt (the concession system is still in place today).
Today the source of salty water - called "la crypte du Bayaa" and situated almost under the...

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Côte d'Argent At around: 30.16 km

Landes Atlantic Coast Landes department Atlantic Coast is a part of the so called "Côte d'Argent" - the name given to the French Atlantic Coast between the rivers of Gironde and Adour.
Endless Ocean sands, the biggest planted pine forest of Western Europe, natural reserves and blue water and sandy beaches lakes that rival any tropical region lagoon make of the Landes department Atlantic Coast an extraordinary beautiful place.
The Landes forest owes its current extend – almost one million hectares- to Napoleon III during whose reign the law called “The Act sanitation and cultivation of Landes of Gascogne” was adopted on June 19, 1957.
The law provided for the planting of marine pine trees in order to assuage the moors that were covering the...

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At around: 32.25 km

Capbreton Capbreton, oh beautiful Capbreton, population a little more than 8,000, is situated on the Atlantic coast in the southern part of Landes department and is the department's only port. Together with its north neighboring town of Hossegor, Capbreton is a popular holiday destination for surfers, sailors, beach-goers and fish and seafood lovers - the town has a famous fish market located (by law!) 2 meters away from the docks!
Situated once on a branch of the Adour River, at the border with the French Basque Country and no further than 40km north of the Basque towns of Biarritz and Bayonne, Capbreton has maintained a strong "Landais" identity throughout its tumultuous history that saw the town's main livelihood, the very Adour River,...

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At around: 33.24 km

Jeanne Albret House Built initially in the 15th century as a house-fortress and enlarged in the 16th century The House of Jeanne d’Albret was given to her and to her husband Antoine de Bourbon in the 16th century. It was supposed to serve the kings of Navarre as a house-retreat when Pau was threatened by epidemics.
The house is now the address of Orthez Tourist Office at its first level of the Protestantism Museum at the second level.
Other attractions in Orthez beside the "House of Kings" are the old bridge and the Moncade Tower.
The beautiful old bridge was built in the 13th century by Gaston VII de Moncade the King of Béarn.
Orthez being one of the routes towards Santiago de Compostelle the bridge...

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Plus Beaux Villages de France At around: 35.1 km

La Bastide Clairence La Bastide-Clairence is listed as one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" ("Most beautiful villages of France"). The town is located in the French Basque Country and though is described in tour guides as a bastide it has little resemblance to the bastides from other regions of the southwest France. Instead of the traditional central square that is the heart of any bastide, La Bastide-Clairence village was built along a main road bordered by (now ancient) houses that exemplify the best of the Navarre and Labourd - the two Basque provinces of the region - architecture. Unfortunately these houses are private property and cannot be visited inside.
The village called in local Occitan language "Bastida de Clarenza"...

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At around: 35.55 km

Sauveterre de Béarn Sauveterre de Bearn was during medieval times not only a stronghold protecting the independent Earldom of Béarn from its mighty Spanish neighbor but also a safe place for the pilgrims on their route to Santiago de Compostela.
The town is first mentioned in a written document in the 11th century.
It was a residence of the Viscount of Béarn Gaston VII de Moncade who built here a castle. The castle, later enlarged by Gaston Phebus, is now unfortunately just a melancholy triggering ruin!
The most impressive historic vestige is arguably the100 feet high (33 meters) Monréal Tower built in the 12th century as a defense as well as live in structure.
On the north west side of the tower is located the Saint André...

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At around: 39.8 km

Chateau Laas A Laàs Castle was initially built in the beginning of the 15th century. In the beginning of the 17th century the seigniory of Laàs, at the time the property of Jean de Laàs, comrade-in-arms of King Henri IV, is elevated to a barony, one of the 17 of baronies of Bearn. The nowadays castle was built in the 17th century.
The chateau sits in the middle of a 12 hectares park featuring gardens "à la française", an "Italian" garden, little ponds and centennial trees.
The castle houses one of the most beautiful art collections in the Aquitaine region of France including paintings by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Breughel, Rubens, Fragonard, as well as tapestries and furniture dating from the 17th and 18th century (including the...

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UNESCO Heritage List At around: 41.79 km

Bayonne Fortifications - Grand Bayonne Bayonne is a fairly large city, a "sous-prefecture" of the department of Pyrenees Atlantiques.
It was already a fortified city during the roman occupation of the Aquitaine.
During the reign of Francois I the city’s fortifications were overhauled (between 1520 and 1528) according to the new principles of the artillery of the time.
Begining from 1680 Vauban starts the reorganization of the defense system of the Spanish border and modernizes the Bayonne fortress and builds on the right bank of the river Adour a citadel called Chateau Neuf (it can be visited only on special occasions like the National Day of the Patrimony on the third weekend of September).
Nowadays the interior of the fortification walls on the left side of the...

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At around: 46.92 km

Biarritz Lighthouse The lighthouse of Biarritz stands on Saint Martin Point. It is a 44 m tower that was built between 1830 and 1834. From its upper deck (248 stairs to climb!), a wonderful 360° panorama opens to the visitors eyes and on a clear day even the i the Spanish city of Saint Sebastian can be seen on the horizon! The lighthouse uses a Fresnel lens named this way after the French physicist that invented it and whose portrait adorns the entrance of the tower.
For information about all the lighthouses that can be visited on the South west French Atlantic coast click here....

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At around: 47.63 km

Imperial Chapel Listed as historic monument in 1981 the imperial chapel was built between 1864 and 1866 on the order of Empress Eugenie de Montijo by the architect Auguste Boeswilwald a student of the famous architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The chapel is built of bricks and stone in an architectural style that combines elements of Roman-Byzantine and Hispano-Moresque styles.
Unfortunatelly the chapel is closed for renovation for an unannounced time....

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At around: 48.01 km

Villa Arnaga Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) was French writer, poet and essayist.
His most famous work, and one of the most popular plays in the French theatre, is the drama "Cyrano de Bergerac", a play loosely inspired by the life and work the writer Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655).
Arguably the second most famous work of Edmond Rostand is "Chantecler", - a drama/fable about a rooster that believes that the sun rises because of his crowing. The play was written in 1910 while the Rostand family was residing in Arnaga, near the little town of Cambo-les-bains, in the French Basque Country.
Rostand came first to Cambo-les-bains in 1900 to heal his pleurisy. He fell in love with the region and decided to build a house here....

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At around: 48.05 km

Miremont Pastry Shop The Miremont pastry shop/tearoom is a historic monument - declared as such by French Ministry of Culture in 2006 - and listed as one of the ONLY 10 of France's historic tearooms by Lonely Planet.
Miremont tearoom was created in 1872 by Etienne Singer but taken over in 1880 by Joseph Miremont who gave the establishment the name it bears to this day.
Miremont is a Biarritz institution. During the "Bellé Epoque" - the golden era of Biarritz - it was the meeting place for Europe's crowned heads like King Edward VII of England - who was coming every year to Biarritz - , the King of Spain Alfonso XIII - who made Miremont the "Purveyor to the Royal Household of Spain",...

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At around: 48.28 km

Sainte Eugenie Cathedral The cathedral built in the neo-gothic style between 1889 and 1903 stands on the place of a small chapel built in 1856 in the Romano-Byzantine style and dedicated to Saint Eugenia Saint Patron of Empress Eugenie of France.
The church has impressive stained glass windows and uses the motif of the lily flower extensively in the walls decoration, the lily flower being of course not only the symbol of the French royalty but also the emblem of the Saint patron Eugenie.
The crypt is now an exhibition place....

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At around: 48.55 km

Le Rocher de la Vierge Le Rocher de la Vierge is truly the hallmark of Biarritz.
From its highest point of view, one discovers the beautiful panorama of the Biarritz beach on the left and the beach of the Cote des Basques on the left.
The statue of The Virgin was installed in 1865. In 1887 the wooden bridge that was providing access to the rock was replaced with the metallic bridge that came from the workshops of Gustave Eiffel.


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At around: 49.01 km

Navarrenx Navarrenx is the oldest "modern era" anti-artillery fortified town of France.
While the site was probably inhabited since the 1st century AD the first written mention of the existence of Navarrenx dates from the end of the 11th century.
In the 13th century the town under the leadership of Gaston VII de Moncade, Viscount of Bearn, builds a stone bridge - its main arch is still standing! - over the Gave d'Oloron, that flows on the town's outskirts and a weekly open market is set up - the market is still held every Wednesday morning!
In the middle of the 16th century Henri II d'Albret, King of Navarre overhauls the town's fortification. He entrusts the task to the architect Fabrizio Siciliano of...

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