France has a rich history of castles and stately homes, reflecting the wealth and ambitions of its aristocracy before the Revolution.
Today these wonderful buildings serve a multitude of purposes. Some serve still as the home of a dynastic family, possibly surrounded by the vineyards that provided so much wealth. Others become hotels, or homes for modern-day successful families, French or otherwise. Unlike Britain, there is no National Trust to acquire chateaux and maintain them for the public, so while some are open for visits they are few and far between.
|Laàs. Small but dynamic village on the Gave d'Oloron|
|Chateau de Laàs. A 17th century stately home which attracted the attention of a prominent French art collector, Louis Serbat, from the north of France. They moved down with their collection of art, in particular Flemish art and Napoleonic souvenirs, as well as the Livre d'Heures of Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy.|
|Arzacq Arraziguet. |
|Château de Morlanne (12 kms). The château de Morlanne was built by Gaston Fèbus for his illegitimate brother.|
|Château de Mascaraas. A typical example of a Lord's château in the Vic-Bilh, this16th to 17th century building contains furniture and works of art from the 15th to 18th centuries. It is a private property still lived in.|
|Montaner. Village famous for its fortress|
|Fortress of Montaner. This red brick fortress still with its imposing keep was built by Gaston Fèbus to defend the Béarn against the English-held Gascony in the 14th century.|
|Pau. Elegant city heavily influenced by the British, now capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques|
|Chateau de Pau. Dominating the Pau skyline is the Chateau of Henri IV. To architectural experts it is such a mixture of styles that it can offend the eye, but that simply reflects its history over the centuries.|
The oldest parts date from the 12th century. Gaston Phébus, the geat Béarnais hero, built on in 1370, and in the 16th century Marguerite d'Angouleme gave it a Renaissance style. The Revolution in 1789 took its toll, but in the 19th century Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III returned to redo the interior and add a tower respectively.
Guided visits of the appartments; also a museum.
|Peyrehorade. Small town at the junction of the Gaves de Pau and d'Oloron|
|Chateau. The chateau at Peyrehorade lies on the Gave de Pau|
|Salies-de-Béarn. Spa town known as the Venice of the Béarn|
|5 km, Château de Bellocq 12th century. |
|Sauveterre-de-Béarn. Spectacular walled village overlooking the Gave d'Oloron|
|Chateau de Mongaston. |
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