Hautes Pyrénées (65)
The history of Bigorre dates from the 6th Century BC when the Bigerri occupied the region. Conquered by the Roman General Crassus in 56 BC, Bigorre entered into the Roman province of Novempopulanie.
After the disorder of the "Vandal and Frank" invasions, Bigorre was controlled by the Dukes of Gascony in the 9th Century and was incorporated into the County of Béarn in 1080. In 1097, Bigorre became an independent County and remained so during the English occupation of the region during the 14th century. Recaptured by Jean de Foix in 1407, Bigorre was reincorporated into the Béarn in 1429.
After the French revolution the new departement, Hautes Pyrenees, followed very much the lines of ancient Bigorre.
Geographically, Bigorre consists of two distinct areas: the plains to the north around Tarbes and the high mountains to the south. Although Tarbes is in fact the capital of the Hautes Pyrenees, the near-by town of Lourdes has certainly eclipsed it in recent years, merely by the fact that 12 million people visit the religious shrines.
To the South, are the 2 smaller towns of Bagnères-de-Bigorre and Argèles-Gazost, which are both
daunted by the mountains. Bagnères-de-Bigorre is at the base of one of the highest
mountain in the Pyrenees range, the "Pic du Midi de Bigorre"
(2872m), with an Observatory on the top for public viewing (not open in the winter) and
the ski resort of "La Mongie", which is also
the location of the source of the "River Adour".
Argèles-Gazost is located in a valley with 6 ski resorts around it and several sources of the "Gave de Pau". Both towns are Thermal towns, both are venues for the "Tour de France" cycle race every year and both are "en route" to the French "Parc national des Pyrenees" and the Pyrenees Brown Bears. The scenery here is breathtaking and because of Lourdes the access to this region is relatively easy.
See Valleys Map.