Pyrénées-Atlantiques - Le territoire

This is the Pyrénées-Atlantiques


Centuries-old inspirations

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques region’s past is steeped in centuries-old inspirations. From the Caves of Isturitz, once inhabited by Neanderthals, to the stone circles of the pre-Pyrenean valleys, prehistoric man left the mark of early civilizations. Gaston Phoebus, Henry IV, and others secured their place and that of the Béarn in French history books. Traversed by the Way of St. James, the department features a rich architectural heritage, reaching back to the Middle Ages. The Romanesque Church of Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is just one of its prized sites.

The strength of cultures

This region is home to two strong cultures, two peoples who have managed to preserve their memory and maintain their dress and language, far from artificial folklore. United with a common purpose, the Basque and Béarnais cultures share the same region with respect to their characters and specific features. Pastoral Souletines, a Béarnais carnival, involves traditional hunting or sung ball games, resolute examples of a carnal attachment to one’s roots. The department also boasts a national stage in Bayonne, two internationally recognised orchestras, a ballet known for its artistic excellence...Our ambition is to bring culture to life and let it shine for those who live in the area as well as those outside. Find out about all the events and shows in the "What’s On" section.

Sports culture

Department 64 is a breeding ground for top-level athletes. With its three major rugby clubs (Aviron Bayonnaise, Biarritz Olympique, and Section Paloise), the department has historically provided many an international player. It has also made its name among the best in European basketball through the saga of Pau-Orthez, nine-time champion of France and winner of the Korac European Cup. Handball is deeply rooted in popular culture. In the land of ball games and bullfighting, skiing and surfing, Pyrénées-Atlantiques native Tony Estanguet has earned three Olympic gold medals in canoeing. The Pyrénées-Atlantiques has also historically been a golf region. The continent’s oldest golf course opened in 1856 in Billère, by English initiative, and the Basque coast offers extraordinary courses with sea views. Finally, the department ranks among the top in the nation in horse breeding, and is one of France’s leading training centres for horse racing. High-performance sports are fuelled by popular practice combined with lifestyle. In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, one in every six is a member of a sports club.

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