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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We're in the département des Pyrénées-Atlantiques, more precisely in the former viscounty of Béarn. North of Pau is the industrial valley of the Gave de Pau river, once Béarn's richest region. It offers some good views of the Pyrenees as well as fascinating contrasts.






Arbus and Artiguelouve are two former little villages now subject to strong urbanization due to the proximity of Pau :




The Castle of Artiguelouve (Artigaloba) lost in pavillion craze :




The valley of the Gave de Pau river used to be rich as proved by opulent vernacular architecture :


The village of Abos (Abòs : one more time in Gascony, a toponym ending in -os) :




Now an excerpt from a previous thread I made about the new town of Mourenx (Morencs built in the 60s.

If you're interested in the history of Mourenx ( Khrushchev famously visited the town ):
http://etudesrurales.revues.org/document527.html
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/ccsti-lacqodyssee/mourenx.html (in French)

Formerly the most rural agricultural area of the Pau Valley, the Lacq Plain, in less than ten years (1954-1964), has become the third most important urban unit in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.The author describes the economic and social conditions of the region before the discovery of oil and natural gas deposits and then shows the effects that the exploitation of these resources have had on the surrounding countryside. The labor and housing problems caused by the construction and operation of the vast industrial complex are described.
The little village of Pardies (Pardias), now drowned in a vast industrial area :






Same fate for Noguères (Noguèras in Gascon : "Walnut Forest") :


Lahourcade (Lahorcada) :








The cohabitation with vernacular architecture :


Now entering Mourenx :






Ascending the town :


The Pyrenees in the distance :




The now industrial valley of the Gave de Pau river :








Some meters from Mourenx, the deep countryside :




The old village of Lagor on its hill, now a suburb of Mourenx :


The Lacq gas plants :


Leaving Mourenx and coming back to pre-1960s rural Béarn :




Lagor (Lagòr) :




As we leave the last suburbs of Mourenx, we re-enter deep Béarn (Entre-deux-Gaves which means : between the two Gaves, Gave being the Pyrenean name for a river) :


In Vielleségure (Vièla-Segura in Gascon : "Secured Town") :










On the road to Sauvelade are farms and barns :






Sauvelade (Seuvalada in Gascon, whose meaning is "Large Forest") :


The abbey :




Going North, the Pyrenees in our back :






Loubieng (Lobienh) :






Quality houses, amongst the prettiest in Béarn :






Laà-Mondrans :






From the left bank of the Gave de Pau river, we catch a glimpse of the former splendor of the once capital of Béarn : Orthez (Ortés)
It'll deserve a thread of its own.




In the now suburbs of Orthez, is the house of the late great French poet, Francis Jammes :




Castétis (Castethins) :


 

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Several comments:
- the countryside during winter looks so depressing. You should take pics in summer. Winter pics never look good in my opinion.
- the houses and buildings don't look as nice and clean as in the neighboring Basque Country, I wonder why. Don't people care about style and having pretty houses?
- you haven't shown the best parts of Béarn in my opinion (Pyrenean valleys, castle of Pau, etc.)

By the way, do you know what's the richest commune in Béarn (in terms of income per inhabitant)?
 

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Here is a map showing Béarn divided in communes (municipalities), with the population density for each commune. Béarn is the area whose border is the red line in the west and the black lines in the north, east, and south. The two enclaves in the east belong to Bigorre and are not part of Béarn. The French Basque Country is the shaded area to the west of Béarn.

As you can see the Pyrenean valleys in the south of Béarn have very few inhabitants. Less than 14 inhabitants per sq. km. is a very low density for Europe.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Soule (around Mauléon), though administratively part of Oloron district, is not part of Béarn :


As for the countryside being depressive, it's a fact. Actually, I quite like depressive landscapes. But I did more pleasant tours : check my sign.

I don't get your point about houses not being clean : that's what the countryside looks like. But you're right that Bearnese architecture is much more austere than the Basque one and that it has suffered from many attempts at "modernizing" it since in the 70s.
 

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I love it, the countryside looks amazing, as well as rural architecture. I especially like the churches, it seems every village has a unique church in terms of appearance and architecture. With all this charm on one side it is quite weird and funny to see all the commieblocks, but they're ubiquitous when it comes to France. There should be a thread France: chateaux and charming villages versus commieblocks. :lol:
 
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