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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 the pre-Vauban famous Italian military engineering school. The new fortification was built between 1542 and 1549.
In 1562 the Saint Germain church of Navarrenx is finished but in just one year, in 1563, the church is transformed into a Protestant Temple by the Queen of Navarre Jeanne D'Albret who converted to Calvinism on the Christmas eve of 1560.
The house were Jeanne lived when in Navarrenx is still standing (it is however a private property with a … hair dressing salon at the first level!).
The conversion of its Queen to the reformed religion plunged Navarre and Béarn into the religious wars and the fortifications of Navarrenx were put to the test and resisted a 3 month siege by the catholic armies in 1569.
Navarrenx is a charming little town well worth visiting.
Next to the Tourist Office is located the Europe's only 100% local cigar factory that can be visited - entrance free - every week day.