A general view of Bagnères-de-Bigorre
|• Mayor (2013-2020)||Jean Bernard Sempastous|
|Area1||125.86 km2 (48.59 sq mi)|
|• Density||64/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||65059 / 65200|
|Elevation||440–2,872 m (1,444–9,423 ft)
(avg. 550 m or 1,800 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Bagnères-de-Bigorre [baɲɛːʁ də biɡɔːʁ] (Occitan: Banhèras de Bigòrra) is a French commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-western France.
The inhabitants of the commune are known as Bagnérais or Bagnéraises.
The commune has been awarded three flowers by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Toponymy
- 3 History
- 4 Administration
- 5 Demography
- 6 Economy
- 7 Culture and heritage
- 8 Notable people linked to the commune
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes and references
Bagnères-de-Bigorre is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees partly in the valley of the Adour some 18 km south-east of Tarbes and 15 km east of Lourdes. Access to the commune is by the D935 roads from Tarbes which passes through the north-eastern tip of the commune and the town before continuing south-east to Beaudéan. The D938 branches off the D935 in the town and goes north to Tournay. The D29 goes from Beaudéan to the centre of the commune with no exit. The D918 from Barèges passes through the south-east of the commune through the hamlet of La Mongie and continues north-east to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan. Apart from the town area the commune is mostly mountainous with few roads.
The Adour river flows through the north-east of the commune and the town flowing towards the north to eventually flow into the Atlantic Ocean at Bayonne. Numerous streams flow through the commune including the GaiVeste which forms the northern border as it flows north-east to join the Adour, the Oussouet which forms part of the western border as it flows north, the Ardazen which forms part of the eastern border as it flows east to join the Angoue, the Quartier par d'Abay which also forms part of the eastern border as it flows north-east gathering numerous tributaries, the Lhécou flows north from Lac Bleu just south of the commune to join the Quartier par d'Abay, the Garet forms part of the south-eastern border as it flows north from several lakes in the south of the commune (Lac de Caderolles, Lac de Gréziolles), the Adour d'Arizes flows south-east, and the Adour du Tourmalet flows east then north-east through the south of the commune, the hamlet of La Mongie and the Castillon Dam, to join the Adour d'Arizes forming the Adour de Gripp.
Bagneres-de-Bigorre is relatively untouched by the west by south-west disturbances which blow out before the high border mountain range. It is however intensely exposed to north by north-west disturbances that collide with the terrain. This barrier effect is felt up to the foothills so that springs, autumns, and winters are cool and rainy while summers are often hot and particularly stormy.
The railway that connected Bagnères and Tarbes was closed in the late 1980s and the service is now provided by the TER bus from the old railway station which is now known as the bus station. The nearest airport is Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport some 30 kilometres to the north.
Begorra, reported in 400, was the former name of either Bagnères-de-Bigorre or Cieutat and would have given the name Bigorre. In the Middle Ages the town would have been called Aquae Convenarum. The current name is formed from the Occitan Banheras (baths) and the name of the region Bigorre.
The Roman Vicus Aquensis
In 28 BC, during the reign of Emperor Augustus, Valerius Messala emerged victorious from his fight against one of the last of the tribal pockets of resistance in Aquitaine: the Campani on a hill in Pouzac. The Romans discovered the warm waters which flow from Mount Olivet. A town appeared around the baths that were built which reached a size equal to half the area that Bagnère was in the early 21st century.
There are no documents or any remains to provide guidance on local history for the end of the Roman Empire in 1171. Inference has been drawn from archaeology that the Roman city was destroyed by an earthquake and was abandoned because of a plague epidemic that hit the city in 580.
Between 580 and 1171 the city was repopulated and restructured. Four villages surrounded by ramparts were mentioned by Centulle III, Count of Bigorre, in the text of a bill of rights and franchises to the inhabitants of Bagnères. From the 12th century to the early 14th century the town grew. In 1313 800 fires were recorded - matching that of Tarbes, the capital of the County. Agriculture employed 40% of the population and the town was also a place of trade with craftsmen's markets combining their products with those of the farmers. To supply hydraulic power there were several mills on widened canals fed by the Adour. These mills were used to grind wheat, forge scythes, stamping cauldrons, and tanning hides.
Bagnères had become a wealthy town when plague struck in 1348. In 1360, during the Hundred Years War, the town became the possession of the English a year before a new plague epidemic. Henri de Trastámara, ally of the king of France, plundered, ransomed,and burned the town in 1427. Two years later there were no more than 291 fires in Bagnères. The population had declined by two-thirds since 1313. The city was repopulated and gradually returned to prosperity.
Economic growth changed the social structure of the town which became more commercial than rural and leading Henry III of Navarre in 1551 to establish a new mode of governance for the town. A council of 40 members replaced the 6 consuls previously indirectly elected by the general assembly of the inhabitants.
Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre and Countess of Bigorre, converted to Protestantism in 1560. In the following year she tried to impose the Reformation but the people of Bagnére remain largely faithful to catholicism. The first arrests for heresy occurred in 1562. The King of France reacted militarily against the Protestants. While Jean d'Albret was at La Rochelle to rescue the Protestants who had been beaten, the French armies seized Béarn. The Queen of Navarre then appealed to Montgommery to recover her lands. This was done in 1569 but the warlord plundered then ransomed towns. He threatened Bagnères and demanded a large sum. It is not known whether the requested amount was paid but the warlord left towards Gers. In 1574 the Protestant warlord Lizier set a trap near Pouzac for the governor of Bagnères, Antoine Beaudéan who was killed there.
At the end of the Wars of religion, Bagnères was ruined: the prevailing malnutrition encouraged the return of plague in 1588. This episode was the occasion of the lighting of Liloye (nicknamed "pure as a lily" because of its great piety). This prophesied the epdemic which was announced by an apparition of the Virgin in the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Médous. It was only after a collective procession that the plague ceased its ravages in Bagnères.
Classical period: from the 17th to the 18th centuries
The plague struck Bagnères again in 1628, 1653, and 1654. Public health measures were taken. Most patients were in the isolated Salut Valley. The disease did not reappear after December 1654.
On 21 June 1660 strong earthquakes hit the town. Earthquakes continued for three weeks. Only seven people were killed but 150 houses were destroyed at least in part and especially the hot springs seemed to dry up. This was only temporary, however, and the water flowed again sometime later.
Reconstruction was carried out with Dimension stones from the Salut Quarry. This stone has the distinction of becoming like marble once polished, a feature that characterised the architecture of the town afterwards. Hydrotherapy was gaining importance. From 1670 private businesses multiplied to 25 in 1787. In 1775 a convent building was transformed into a gambling establishment called the Vaux-Hall where there was also dining and dancing. This is the first casino in Bagnères.
From 1789 to 1793, during the French Revolution "moderate suspects" took refuge in the city, ready to flee to Spain if the situation worsened. The departmental authorities were wary of the Bagnére people to whom they ascribed little civic and revolutionary spirit. In late 1793, before the hospitals in the south-west became saturated, the wounded were evacuated to spas. At Bagnères, Saint Barthelemy Hospice, the Uzer and Lanzac houses, and the Hospice of the Médous Capuchins were used as military hospitals.
The Bagnére economy was based on trade, crafts, and Hydrotherapy until the end of the Bourbon Restoration. The private spas were aging so the municipality organized the construction of a Grand Thermal Spa which was completed in 1828. The supply of marble became a pillar of the local economy with the expansion of the Géruzet marble works which was one of the largest in France from 1829 to 1880. His example was followed by small local businesses. This industry employed a thousand people in 1870.
Entrepreneurs diversifed their business activities. Starting from an old mill in 1862, Dominique Soulé founded what became the largest factory in the town in the next century. 1862 was also the year of the arrival of the railway in Bagnères. The 19th century was a period of urban expansion after which the shape of the city was frozen until the beginning of the 21st century. The extra space after the demolition of the city walls allowed the completion of ring roads around the town.
The First World War resulted in the expansion of industry in Bagnères, particularly in the field of railway rolling stock. The marble industry collapsed but mechanical and textile industries replaced it. The share of hydrotherapy in the economy also decreased. In June 1944, during the Second World War, a punitive expedition of a company of SS murdered 32 in the town and hundreds more in the valley in retaliation against the actions of the resistance in the region.
The postwar period saw rapid urban growth, particularly in the 1960s. Rural areas of the commune disappeared. The territory was occupied by dwellings to the borders of the neighbouring communes of Gerde and Pouzac which also become urban.
At the end of the 20th century industrial activity decreased. The thermal spa guests were always present and new jobs were created by the implementation of the regional Centre for Reeducation and Rehabilitation, a large retirement home, and a nursing home.
Gules, 3 towers Argent, the middle elevated, enclosed by a surrounding wall the same, all masoned, embattled, windowed, and ported of Sable.
- Mayors from 1941
|1965||1977||André de Boysson|
|2013||2020||Jean Bernard Sempastous|
(Not all data is known)
- Alhama de Granada (Spain) since 1995.
- Granarolo dell'Emilia (Italy) since 1985.
- Tutzing (Germany) since 1975.
The Community of communes of Haute-Bigorre (CCHB) was created in December 1994 to support joint development projects. It has been allocated a general grant for operations by the State and large grants by the General Council, the Regional Council, the State, and by Europe. Its skills are in:
- Economic development (businesses, trades, commercial fabrics...);
- Services to the elderly, children, and the disabled;
- Protection and enhancement of the environment;
- Selective waste collection;
- Housing and living Environment policy;
- Land development;
Bagnères-de-Bigorre has a regional hospital which has 25 beds for medicine, 20 beds for longer stays (4 of aftercare for alcohol withdrawal), and 220 beds for rehabilitation and physical medicine (25 places for day hospitalization). On the Castelmouly site (accommodation for the dependent elderly) the capacity is 142 beds plus 2 temporary, 36 long-stay beds, and 8 day care places for people with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders. The town also has a famous thermal baths.
Schools in the commune are in the school district of the Academy of Toulouse.
The commune has three kindergartens (Clair Vallon, Carnot, and Achard), and six elementary schools (Calandreta of Banhèras (Occitan School), Jules Ferry, Pic du Midi, Carnot, Lesponne, les Palomières, and Saint Vincent).
The General Council manages the Colleges of Blanche Odin (formerly city school Achard) and Saint Vincent while the region supports the Victor Duruy high school.
In 2010 the commune had 8,047 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger communes that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]
The economy of Bagnères-de-Bigorre is mainly in the secondary sector, at one time including railway materials, but Hydrotherapy and tourism are the main activities in the commune.
Today there are many SMEs and SMIs specializing in electrical equipment, mechanical, and aerospace industries located in the commune.
There are Four commercial zones of activity:
- The Dominique Soulé Business Park: an area of over 11 hectares with 14 companies (400 jobs). The main companies are:
- CFD Bagnères (formerly Constructions Ferroviaires de Bagnères ex Soulé),
- Nouvelle Bagnères Aéro,
- Protoplane - Avenir Composites,
- Bigorre Ingénierie.
- The Adour Industrial Zone: an area of around 16 hectares with 23 companies (280 jobs). The main companies are:
- Electraline CBB,
- Adour Industries,
- Duteil Arnauné sas,
- Spem Aero,
- Industrial Cabling Installations Pyrenees (MCIP).
- The Haute-Bigorre Business park: an area of over 4 hectares with 9 companies (70 jobs). The main companies are:
- Areva T & D,
- Amare Charpentes,
- Chaussons Matériaux,
- Adour Prothèses,
- Entreprise AOD
- The Haute-Bigorre Industrial Park: an area of more than 3 hectares with 3 companies (70 jobs). The main companies are:
- ABB Soulé Surge Protection - Hélita,
- Mang Metal Industries.
Hydrotherapy and Tourism
The Grands Thermes de Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Grand Thermal Baths of Bagnères-de-Bigorre) offer treatments in for rheumatology, psychosomatic disorders, and respiratory tract disorders. The waters of Bagneres-de-Bigorre with 38 sources were already appreciated by the Romans as an agent for detoxification. Like most thermal cities, Bagneres-de-Bigorre has a casino. It is in the same building with the Aquensis thermal spa.
The history of Bagneres is linked to the ski resort of La Mongie which is located partly on the territory of the commune and attached to the Domain of Tourmalet - the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees.
- Thermalism and tourism Picture Gallery
A Poster by Ulpiano Checa
Culture and heritage
The commune has several buildings and structures that are registered as historical monuments:
- The Uzer House at 1 Place d'Uzer (17th century)
- The Jean d'Albret House at 5 Rue du Vieux-Moulin (1539)
- The Tower of the Jacobins (14th century) is built in the flamboyant Gothic style with a square belfry of two floors atop an octagonal tower 35 metres high. It is a remnant of what was once a Dominican Church of Preachers. The church was destroyed by fire in 1343. The convent and cloister were demolished in 1793.
- Other sites of interest
- The Hospital contains a framed Painting: The Virgin of Carmel with the child Jesus and the Prophet Elie Tobie, and an angel (18th century) which is registered as an historical object.
- The Town Hall contains Library Shelves (19th century) which are registered as an historical object.
- The Grands Thermes de Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Grand Thermal Baths of Bagnères-de-Bigorre) were built in the Classical architecture of the 19th century using Pyrenees marble. It contains a Monument dedicated to the divinity of the Emperor Augustus (1st century) which is registered as an historical object.
- The Conservatoire botanique Pyrénéen
The commune has two religious buildings and structures that are registered as historical monuments:
- The old Church of Saint John Portico (1280)
- The Church of Saint Vincent (1557) was built on a sanctuary of paleo-Christian origin. The style is High Gothic on the west facade while the south side is distinguished by its Renaissance style porch. The Church contains several items that are registered as historical objects:
Bagnères-de-Bigorre Picture Gallery
- The Grottes de Médous (Médous caves) are natural caves accessible to visitors as well as a place of pilgrimage.
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre is the reference site for Theodoxus fluviatilis thermalis which was described in the 19th century by the malacologist Dominique Dupuy.
The town has three museums:
- The Salies Museum of Fine Arts which lies below the oldest part of the thermal baths (The Dauphin baths dating from 1783)
- The Salut Natural History Museum
- The Marble Museum created in 2007. This museum has more than 300 large samples of European marble.
The city has several cultural centres:
- The Multimedia library
- The Municipal Cultural Centre
- Le Maintenon Cinema
Many cultural events are organized:
- The Piano Pic Festival
- Chopin in Bagneres
- The Weekend of Street Art
- The À Voix Haute Music Festival (At a Loud Volume Music Festical)
- The High school girls video meeting (Ascension weekend)
- The Pyrenees Book Fair
The town has an orchestra called the Harmony Bagnéraise and a choir called La chorale des chanteurs montagnards (Chorus of Mountain Singers) which is the oldest secular choir in France and Europe [ref. required].
The Stade Bagnérais is a French rugby union club who have long played in the First Division, twice reaching the final of the Championship of France (1979 and 1981), and which plays in Fédérale 1 in the Rugby Championship in France.
The town of Bagneres has several sports associations, school structures, a leisure centre, and numerous sports facilities:
- 4 Gymnasiums: La Plaine, Henri Cordier, Jules Ferry, and Carnot;
- The Apollo Hall for Dojo;
- The André Boysson Swimming pool;
- Rugby and soccer fields: La Plains, Marcel Cazenave Sports Park, Cordier, and Bagnères-Pouzac SIVU Sports;
- Tennis Courts: inside and outside;
- The Municipal Equestrian Centre;
- Bigorre Golf Course (in Pouzac);
- The Adour Artificial whitewater;
- A Fronton in the Sports Park;
- A Skatepark;
- Bédat Shooting Range;
- A range of mountain activities at Tourmalet
In 2008 and 2013 Bagnères-de-Bigorre was a stage in the Tour de France:
- 2008 Tour de France: stage finish, won by Vladimir Efimkin
- 2013 Tour de France: stage finish, won by Dan Martin
- The Bédat Family: came from Bagnères-de-Bigorre ;
- André Joseph Boussart (1758-1813): General of the Republican armies and of the Empire, died at Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Alfred Roland (1797-1874): composer and creator of the Conservatory of Music of Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Marie-Armand d'Avezac de Castera-Macaya (1798-1875): archivist and geographer, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Jean-Jacques Vignerte (1806-1870): Politician, died at Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Charles Dancla (1817-1907): violinist and composer, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Charles Duclerc (1812-1888): Politician, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Dominique Soulé (1847?-?): Founder of the railway materials industrial works in 1862 which carried his name until 1992
- Blanche Odin (1865-1957): Painter water-colourist, lived and died in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Julián Bourdeu (1870-1932): Journalist and Police commissioner in Argentina, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Philadelphe de Gerde (1871-1952): Félibrige poetess from Gerde who has a stele commemorating here opposite the thermal baths
- Marcellin Duclos (1879-1969): Opera singer (Baritone), born and died in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Field Marshal Alan Brooke (1883-1963): Chief of the Imperial General Staff, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Pierre-Georges Latécoère (1883-1943): Industrialist and businessman, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Pierre Lamy de la Chapelle (Limoges 1892-Bagnères-de-Bigorre 1944): son of Dominique Soulé, pioneer of the ski station at La Mongie, founded the tennis club of Bagnères-de-Bigorre in 1920, originated the idea of serving the Pic-du-Midi with a cable car
- Tony Poncet (1918-1979): tenor, Opera singer and war veteran, lived in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Jean Gachassin (1941-): former French rugby player and president of the Fédération française de tennis, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Jean-Louis Bruguès (1943-): Archbishop, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Roland Bertranne (1949-): former rugny player who played at Stade Bagnérais
- Jean-Paul Betbèze (1949-): economist, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Jean-Michel Aguirre (1951-): international Rugby Union player and former player for Stade Bagnérais
- Yves Duhard (1955-): Rugby Union player, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Wilfrid Forgues (1969-) and Frank Adisson (1969-): Olympic champions in Canoeing in 1996
- Sophie Theallet (1964-), Fashion designer, born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- The Société Ramond: founded at a meeting between Henry Russell, Charles Packe, Farnham Maxwell-Lyte, and Emilien Frossard in 1865, and named after Louis Ramond de Carbonnières, based in Bagnères-de-Bigorre
- Tony Hawks: English writer and comedian, purchased a house in a village near Bagnères-de-Bigorre as told in his 2006 book A Piano in the Pyrenees.
- Communes of the Hautes-Pyrénées department
- List of spa towns in France
- Stade Bagnérais
- La Mongie
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre official website (French)
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre on Lion1906
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre on Google Maps
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre on Géoportail, National Geographic Institute (IGN) website (French)
- Baigneres en Bigorre on the 1750 Cassini Map
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre on the INSEE website (French)
- INSEE (French)
Notes and references
- At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force in 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.
- Inhabitants of Hautes-Pyrénées (French)
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Competition for Towns and Villages in Bloom (French)
- Google Maps
- Géoportail, IGN (French)
- Ernest Nègre, General Toponymy of France, Librairie Droz, 1990, 708 pages, p. 59, ISBN 2-60002-883-8 (French).
- Ernest Nègre, General Toponymy of France, Librairie Droz, 1990, 708 pages, p. 296, ISBN 2-60002-883-8 (French).
- Discover the Town: History, Bagnères-de-Bigorre official website, consulted on 19 December 2010 (French). The document is preceded with the words: "According to the book by Philippe Mayoux, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, History of a spa Town, Alan Sutton" (French)
- List of Mayors of France (French)
- National Commission for Decentralised cooperation (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00095339 Uzer House at 1 Place d'Uzer (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00095338 Jean d'Albret House at 5 Rue du Vieux-Moulin (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00095340 Tower of the Jacobins (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000101 Painting: The Virgin of Carmel with the child Jesus and the Prophet Elie Tobie, and an angel (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000100 Library Shelves (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000099 Monument dedicated to the divinity of the Emperor Augustus (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00095336 Church of Saint John Portico (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00095337 Church of Saint Vincent (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000098 2 Confessionals (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000097 Baptismal font enclosure and Group Sculpture: Baptism of Christ (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000096 Altar in the Saint Francis Chapel (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000095 Stoup (French)
- Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM65000094 Pulpit (French)
- Museums of Bagnères, consulted on 19 December 2010. (French)
- Bagnères-de-Bigorre on the diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes website, consulted on 3 December 2014. (French)
- Christian Family, No. 1829, 2–8 February 2013, p. 28-30 (French)
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bagnères-de-Bigorre.|