|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (December 2008)|
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||Hervé Lucbereilh|
|• Land1||68.31 km2 (26.37 sq mi)|
|• Population2 Density||160/km2 (420/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||64422 / 64400|
|Elevation||194–1,280 m (636–4,200 ft)
(avg. 220 m or 720 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.
Oloron-Sainte-Marie is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France. The town of Oloron-Sante-Marie is positioned at the junction of two rivers and has a population of approximately 12,000. While not spectacular, it is a pleasant looking town, with an ancient quarter, Sainte Croix, containing the oldest Romanesque church in the Bearn region. This church, the Eglise Sainte Croix, has recently[when?] been fully restored, at considerable expense, and is worth a detour for those interested in such things, as is the tenth century cathedral in the centre of the town, with its carved stone entrance which is of such quality that it has been declared a world heritage site. Economically, Oloron is sustained by a mixture of agriculture, light industry and tourism. It contains one of the largest chocolate factories in Europe, and on warm summer evenings the town is often suffused with the smell of warm chocolate. The town stands on one of the ancient routes of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, so it is a well-known stopping place for walkers and modern-day pilgrims alike. As it stands on the edge of the Pyrenees, Oloron is also a centre and portal for many activities associated with the mountains: skiing, cycling, white water rafting, canyoning and rambling. The parents of American fitness guru Jack LaLanne emigrated from the town.
- Capital of the "Haut Béarn".
- Speciality: "le russe" (a flat cake).
- Flag: two red cows on a yellow background.
The Gave d'Oloron is named after the town.
Neighboring communes: Esquiule, Moumour, Ledeuix, Estos, Cardesse, Monein, Goès, Précilhon, Escout, Herrère, Ogeu-les-Bains, Buziet, Arudy, Escot, Asasp-Arros, Lurbe-Saint-Christau, Eysus, Gurmençon, Bidos, Agnos, Ance and Féas.
The Oloron economy is dominated by two well known manufacturing businesses:
- * Lindt & Sprüngli have a chocolate factory in Oloron.
- * Messier-Bugatti-Dowty have a plant in the adjacent commune of Bidos which manufactures landing gear for aircraft.
Oloron is also famous, among hat enthusiasts, as the capital of the basque beret, although the beret business has fallen victim to the widespread collapse of the European textile business as well as changing fashions. Today only one beret business survives in Oloron. This is the Béatex company which employs appropximately 80 people.
The area also benefits from an active agriculture sector, involving animal rearing and general agriculture as well as maize production. It is also part of the AOC defined districts entitled to produce the ewes' cheese, Ossau-Iraty.
Oloron-Sainte-Marie was the birthplace of:
- Oloron Cathedral
- Gave d'Oloron
- Gave d'Ossau
- Gave d'Aspe
- Ancient Diocese of Oloron
- Communes of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department
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