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Flag of Béarn  Biarn  Bearn
Coat of arms of Béarn  Biarn  Bearn
Coat of arms
Béarn in Europe.
Béarn in Europe.
Country  France
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
French Basque Country (left side) and the Béarn (right side)

Béarn (French pronunciation: ​[be.aʁn]; Gascon: Bearn or Biarn; Basque: Bearno or Biarno) is one of the traditional provinces of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Basque provinces of Soule, Lower Navarre, and Labourd, the principality of Bidache, as well as small parts of Gascony, it forms in the southwest the current département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64). The capitals of Béarn were Beneharnum (until 841), Morlaàs (from ca. 1100), Orthez (from the second half of the 13th century), then Pau (beginning in the mid-15th century).[1]

Béarn is bordered by Basque provinces Soule and Lower Navarre to the west, by Gascony (Landes and Armagnac) to the north, by Bigorre to the east, and by Spain (Aragon) to the south.

Today, the mainstays of the Béarn area are the petroleum industry, the aerospace industry through the helicopter turboshaft engine manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture (much of which involves maize (corn) grown for seed). Pau was the birthplace of Elf Aquitaine, which has now become a part of the Total S.A. petroleum company.

In Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers series, the protagonist d'Artagnan came from Béarn (he mentions having attended his father's funeral there in the second book, Twenty Years After). That d'Artagnan is usually referred to as a Gascon is neither surprising nor incorrect, as Béarn forms part of Gascony.

In the eastern part of the province are two small exclaves belonging to Bigorre. They are the result of how early Béarn grew to its traditional boundaries: some old lesser viscounties were added by marriage, and absorbed into Béarn: Oloron to the south/southwest ca. 1050, Montanérès in the east in 1085, and Dax in the west in 1194.[2] When Montanérès was added, five communities or parishes (Villenave-Près-Béarn, Escaunets, Séron, Gardères, and Luquet) did not form part of the dowry; they remained, or became, part of Bigorre.[1] Their attachment to Bigorre continues to the present, as they followed it into Hautes-Pyrénées, rather than being incorporated into the surrounding Pyrénées-Atlantiques.



The name Béarn derives from Beneharnum, the capital city of the ancient Venarni people, which was destroyed by Vikings by 840.)[3]. The modern town of Lescar is built on the site of Beneharum.


Agriculture and metallurgy were first practiced in the region around 4,000 years ago. Many dolmens, tumuli and megaliths have been found in Béarn dating to this era, suggesting that ancestor worship was an important religious activity in neolithic Béarn[4]. Construction of cromlêhs in Béarn continued into the Bronze Age.

Fortified villages were also constructed in Neolithic Béarn, and remains of these have been found near Asson, Bougarber and Lacq.


Béarn was occupied by Ligurans around 3000 years ago. By 500 BC, Iberians appear to have replaced the Ligurians. The names of several towns in Béarn end in -os (e.g. Gelos, Urdos and Arros) which suggests an Iberian origin.



Béarn is served by two autoroutes. The A64 (l'autoroute pyrénéenne, European designation E80) was built in 1977 and links Pau, Toulouse and Bayonne. In Béarn, the A64 has junctions serving the towns of Salies-de-Béarn, Orthez, Artix, Pau and Soumoulou.

The A65 (l'autoroute de Gascogne, European designation E7) links Pau with Langon. It serves the Béarnese towns of Lescar, Thèze and Garlin. At Langon, the A65 joins on to the A62, which continues to Bordeaux. The A65 was opened in 2010, and was at the time France's most expensive autoroute.

Several more minor routes also serve Béarn. The Route Nationale 134 links the south of Pau with Somport in the Aspe Valley. From Somport, transport to Spain is possible.

People from Béarn[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bidot-Germa, Grosclaude, Duchon, Histoire de Béarn, 1986
  2. ^ Bidot-Germa, Grosclaude, Duchon, Histoire de Béarn, 1986, p. 23
  3. ^ Pliny the Elder. Natural History. 
  4. ^ Laborde, Jean Baptiste (1943). Le Béarn aux temps préhistoriques. p. 378. 
  5. ^ Bourrousse de Laffore (1860), Tome 3, p. 171

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°18′00″N 0°22′00″W / 43.3000°N 0.3667°W / 43.3000; -0.3667