© ROBINET Olivier

Navarrenx, the bastioned city

It’s one of the earliest fortified towns, one of France’s most beautiful villages and the capital of salmon fishing.
But that’s not Navarrenx’s only claim to fame…

Navarrenx, no ordinary walled city

VAUBAN-STYLE RAMPARTS …

a century beforVauban !

The name Navarrenx, or Sponda Navarensi in Latin, means “the edge of the Navarre”.
Obviously, this town was coveted by neighbours both near and far. Henri II d’Albret even compared it to “a flea fought over by two apes”, in reference to the kings of France and Spain, both of whom had their eye on it.

Navarrenx has been fortified since the 14th century, but it was only in 1538, under Henri II d’Albret, grandfather of Henri IV of France, that construction began on the imposing ramparts. 1.7 km long, 10m high, reckoned to be impenetrable and even revolutionary, these walls were the work of one Fabricio Siciliano, an Italian architect. But the layout might just remind you of something else … the fortified cities by France’s famous military architect, Vauban.

Well, here’s the scoop: Navarrenx was a precursor, a Vauban-style fortress-city 100 years ahead of its time.

 

 

WELCOME TO MUSKETEER COUNTRY !

Along with its prestigious military past, Navarrenx was also the home of the Musketeers – those brave, daring, jovial men immortalised by Alexandre Dumas.

Just think – Aramis and Athos both grew up in villages less than 50 km from here and Isaac de Portau – alias Porthos – came from a family in nearby Audaux. It was here, with the guards of the city, that Porthos learned how to fight, and he ended his career here, too, guarding the town’s ammunition.

People in Navarrenx are still proud that it was d’Artagnan’s brother who rose to become its governor.

 

NAVARRENX, ON THE WAY OF ST JACQUES

Onwards to Compostela!

 

Ever since the Middle Ages, pilgrims armed with walking sticks, rucksacks and scallop badges have been cheered at the sight of the ramparts of Navarrenx, a stage along the Puy route of the Camino de Santiago.

At the end of a long day’s tramp, they find welcome and comfort in the town.

 

 

WHEN THE KING OF THE GAVES COMES TO NAVARRENX

Looking down on the Gave d’Oloron, France’s most plentiful salmon river, Navarrenx can rightfully claim to be the capital of salmon. No wonder the fish is known as the “King of the Gave”!

Every year, people flock to Navarrenx, where they live, eat and dream salmon in the hope of winning the fishing competition or the prize for the best salmon recipe.

If you’re a sportsman or a clever cook, why not try your chances?

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN NAVARRENX ?

 

From the ramparts, you simply can’t resist gazing down at the Gave, sometimes crystal clear, sometimes blue-green. We defy you not to be moved by the natural beauty all around you!

Rafting, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding offer the chance to get close to the elements that make our region so beautiful.

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