cities in france

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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french gastronomy

Traditional dish recipes from southwest part of France.

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France in facts and figures! Interesting less known facts about France

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"Henry IV - ...The King Who Invented The...Flirt!" Suggested Travel Itinerary

1
Cazeneuve Castle
Currently owned and inhabited by the Dukes of Sabran-Ponteves - descendents of the Kings of Navarre- the castle was once the property of the King Henry IV of France and the residence where his estrange wife - the famous Queen Margo - was force to live while waiting for the annulement of their marriage. The castle is surrounded by a large tree lined park along the banks of the river Ciron where the legend says the frivolous Queen was secretly meeting her admirers - hence the name "The Queen's " given to one of the cove. ...

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2
Château de Vayres
The castle of Vayres with his Italian renaissance architecture and his gardens "à la Francaise" is one of the most important monuments of Aquitaine region. It was a property of Henri III de Navarre future Henri IV de France from his mother side.
The castle was in the property of d'Albret family since 1287 when Rose de Bourg brought the castle as her dowry at her marriage with Amanieu VII d'Albret.
King Henri stayed in the castle several times unti 1583 when the castle was sold to Ogier de Gourgues, a member of the parliament of Bordeaux. The new owner rebuilt it with the help of the famous architect of the time Louis de Foix.
At the end of 17th century Jacques...

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3
Garenne Park
Originally, the park close to the royal castle of Nerac was founded by Antoine de Bourbon, father of Henri IV. It was enlarged a few years later by Queen Margot, the first wife of the future Henri IV. The park lays along the Baise river banks and is around 2.5 km long.

It makes a nice walking path dotted with historic tokens like the statue of Fleurette - the presumed tragic love of young Henri who killed herself when the king abandoned her (in reality there are documents attesting to the life of a named Fleurette who lived a long life and had several children) and the Dauphin fountain - the fountain built to celebrate the birth of future...

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4
Henri IV Mill
The mill - situated on the Nerac town outskirts facing the town of Barbaste - was built at the begining of the 14th century and was in the property of the house of d'Albret . The fortified construction was a used also as the tax collector's house. The mill is located upstream from the ten arches bridge over Ténarèze river, bridge built in the 13th century. The young Henri de Navarre was signing some of his letters with " Henri the Miller of Barbaste"! The building complex has been listed as a Historic Monumement since 1889.
It is a modest monument still linked with the young king....

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5
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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6
Lescar Cathedral  - The necropolis of the kings of Navarre
The Notre-Dame cathedral of Lescar was built initially built in the first part of the 12th century. It is a remarkable roman art masterpiece.
The cathedral is the resting place of the Kings of Navarre. Among them Francois Phoebus dead in 1483 - the first Navarre King to rule over united territories of French Navarre, Spanish Navarre, Bearn and the County of Foix -, Marguerite d'Angouleme the famous writer, sister of King Francois I and grand-mother of King Henri IV, dead in 1549 and Henri II d'Albret her husband King of Navarre dead in 1555.
The Cathedral features also a very interesting mosaic dating from the 12th century and representing a Moor warrior with a wooden leg.
The legend says that the builders...

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7
Montaigne Castle
The Castle of Montaigne situated in Perigord close to Bergerac and Saint-Emilion is the birth place of Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne (1533-1592), French writer, philosopher - he said "Fortune, seeing that she could not make fools wise, has made them lucky" and "Confidence in the goodness of another is good proof of one's own goodness" - and political figure, elected 2 times mayor of Bordeaux.
During the last years of his life Michael de Montaigne was a close friend of Henry III of Navarre, later to be King Henri IV of France, who visited the castle at least 2 times: in December 1584 when the king was battling catholics and he had to flee close to the protestant cities...

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8
Nerac Castle
The castle was the residence of d'Albret family the kings of Navarre since Amanieu VI d'Albret in the 13th century. Marguerite d'Angouleme(de Navarre) the wife of Henri II d'Albret and later her daughter Jeanne d'Albret make make from Nerac a center of European culture and huguenot bastion.
It is there that Marguerite de Navarre - arguably the best female writer of the 16th century - writes The Heptameron.
Between 1577 and 1582 was the principal home of King Henri de Navarre and his wife Queen Marguerite de Valois, who were holding in Nerac a court comparable with the one at the Louvre. Queen Margot will always remember during her life the "joie de vivre" of the court...

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9
Old Nerac and Nerac Fortifications
The first mention of Nerac fortifications dates from 11th century when a donation was made by one named Arsieu d’Olbion in 1088 to the Benedictine Abbey of Condom. The second line fortification was probably built in the 14th century. In the 16th century on the orders of Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre by marriage with Jeanne d’Albret, the first fortification line is demolished. The second one that surrounds "The Grand" Nerac and "The Little" Nerac plays a defensive role in the Religious Wars and is dismantled only in 1621 when the protestant town is defeated by the royal armies (catholic).
During the Fronde in 1650 some efforts are made to rebuilt what is left of the protection walls, but in...

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10
Pau Castle
Pau Castle is the birth place of King Henri IV of France. At that moment the castle was the property of Henri' sgrandfather Henri II d'Albret King of Navarre. The legend says that when baby Henri was born his grandfather rubbed a clove of garlic and a drop of Jurançon wine on his lips in order to protect him from diseases (Jurançon is to this day the most famous wine of the region). The baby was placed then in a cradle made from a turtle shell - believed at that time to bring long life to bodies placed inside! This famous shell was placed by King Louis XVIII - Henri's direct descendent - during restoration period on a majestic pedestal...

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