Dax and the Pays d’Orthe

Culture, History and Gastronomy

At the crossroads of the Basque Country, the Béarn mountains and the beaches of the southern Landes, the Pays d'Orthe and Arrigans make up a region rich in heritage and exceptional nature. This is also the case of Dax, a jubilant spa town with rich culture. It is a must-see in the Landes! Between gastronomy, traditions and walks in stunning landscapes formed by the Adour and the Pyrenees, there is something to do for everyone.

From Saint-Vincent-de-Paul to Pouillon

and Buglose

Vincent de Paul was born here in 1581. This simple priest, founder of congregations and tireless defender of those in hardship, became world famous after being canonised in 1737. Maison Ranquines, where he was born, is now part of the Cradle of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul , a place of pilgrimage and a museum. One of the oldest oak trees in the region, which was already 400 years old when Vincent de Paul was born, still stands next to the house. On the outskirts of the village is the hamlet of Buglose, one of the main places of pilgrimage in the South West of France since the 15th century. Today, the Basilica of Our Lady of Buglose is best known for its carillon of 60 bells, the only one of its kinds in the world, offering several performances per week.


Saint-Paul-lès-Dax and Lake Christus

This town, next to Dax, has its own identity, in particular thanks to the Lake Christus, around which a great deal of thermal activity developed in the 70s and 80s. Restaurants, hotels, thermal baths, a casino, a swimming pool and the Sourcéo aquatic complex sit along the lakeside, which remains a pleasant natural area with groves, paths and tree-lined banks. Going up the path along the stream of Poustagnacq, which feeds Lake Christus, you reach the Mill of the same name, a vast building surrounded by nature, which houses a famous restaurant. Saint-Paul-lès-Dax also hosts one of the most renowned circus festivals in the world, every year in November.


Dax, the spa and jubilant town

France’s leading spa destination is an active, festive, cultural city with many shops and great assets: unique monuments such as the archaeological crypt of the Borda Museum, dating from the first century, Gallo-Roman ramparts, the Fontaine Chaude, Atrium auditorium, still impregnated with the essence of the Roaring Twenties, the Hotel & Spa Le Splendid, a 1920s palace and world masterpiece of Art Deco, and Les Thermes, a modern residence designed by Jean Nouvel. Dax is also home to a multitude of shops, bars, restaurants and a casino, market halls dedicated to gastronomy in the heart of the city, the largest market in the department which occupies the whole city centre every Saturday morning, and a certain sense of celebration, which is illustrated every year around the 15th of August with the famous Feria!


Tercis-les-Bains and its vast surroundings

This former spa village is located at the confluence of the Adour and the Luy rivers, in a landscape of Barthes, swampy areas made up of reeds, peat bogs, willow, alder and poplar forests, but also ponies, horses, oxen, storks and herons. On the site of the former limestone quarry, there is now a world-famous Geological Nature Reserve. It bears witness to events 71.6 million years ago in these ancient sea beds, where a multitude of animal and plant remains, such as dinosaur vertebrae, were deposited. A large number of plant species, amphibians, forest birds and cliff-dwelling birds of prey are present today. The site is also home to Caesar’s Wall, a cliff nearly 30 metres high overlooking the Adour, steeped in myths and legends.

Tercis - Carrière

Saubusse, the spa and river port

Following the Adour river along the towpaths converted into tracks, you reach the small village of Saubusse. As a former fishing and commercial port on the river, it offers a pleasant setting for a stroll or enjoying a drink on a terrace. The banks of the Adour have been developed, allowing fishermen to go after sea bream, sea bass or smelt. Those who love walking or cycling can take the Sentier des Barthes from the old port or follow the Adour river along the Scandibérique trail. Just a kilometre from the village, the Saubusse thermal establishment has been welcoming visitors for almost a century and offers the benefits of the Raja spring and its 39-degree chlorinated water.


Port-de-Lanne, the heart of the Adour

Further south, in a peaceful meander of the Adour river, nestles the village of Port-de-Lanne, a former stop-off in the river trade between Gascony and the port of Bayonne. Starting from Port-de-Lanne, numerous walking and cycling trails allow you to immerse yourself in these very special landscapes, where the Adour maritime runs its entire length across the plain before meeting the tumultuous gaves of the Pyrenees at Bec-du-Gave, a few hectometres south of the village, then heading straight towards the ocean.

Port de Lanne

Hastingues and Arthous Abbey

Founded in 1289 by John Hastings on a rocky spur, the bastide of Hastingues offers a magnificent view of the rivers known locally as gaves and the plain. The imposing 14th century bastide sets the scene. Behind, half-timbered houses with red shutters and medieval gems such as the Maison du Sénéchal, in the purest English style, or the Maison des Jurats, facing the Saint-Sauveur church on the central square of the town. The real jewel of Hastingues lies below the village: the former Arthous Abbey, one of the most beautiful Romanesque ensembles in the Landes, founded in 1167. It has become the Departmental Heritage Centre and offers events and exhibitions accessible to all, with an interactive museum retracing the thousand-year history of this area at the crossroads of Gascony, the Basque Country and Bearn.


Peyrehorade, the gastronomic capital

The large town of Peyrehorade, on the edge of the gaves, deserves its reputation as a gastronomic capital. Its weekly market, the oldest records of which date back to the 14th century, welcomes nearly a hundred traders, craftsmen and local producers every Wednesday. It is the perfect opportunity to enjoy one of the copious breakfasts served from 7am in the village inns and restaurants including a speciality, the famous pig’s trotters. In the market halls, there is a typical regional fat and poultry market. In Peyrehorade, you will also find Maison Barthouil, a specialist in traditional smoked salmon and foie gras, which supplies the country’s finest tables. Peyrehorade is also the centre of the Adour kiwi production area, which has almost 350 producers.


Sorde-l'Abbaye and its rich history

A short distance from Hastingues, on the right bank of the Gave d’Oloron, stands the Sorde Abbey, a major historical ensemble from the 11th century. A solemn place which invites contemplation, made up of an abbey church, abbot’s villa, chapter house, cloister, refectory, sacristy, terrace of greenery, not forgetting the 70-metre underground gallery which leads to the landing stage, making this a unique site in France. The village of Sorde bears witness to several millennia of history, from the prehistoric shelters dug into the cliff of Pastou to the Gallo-Roman villas and baths, via the medieval ramparts and the famous passage of the Spaniards, a vestige of the wars between Francis I and Charles V. Sorde is also the starting point for canoe or stand-up paddle trips on the Gave d’Oloron.

Sorde l'abbaye

Pouillon, known for nature and relaxation

Heading north towards Chalosse, enjoy the charm of the villages of Habas,
 Cauneille, Labatut and Misson, before stopping in Pouillon, a village of 3,000 in the centre of which stands the church of Saint Martin. Built in the 11th century, it was fortified during the Hundred Years’ War. Nextdoor are the Alfred-Longuefosse bullfighting arenas, where the traditional Landes bullfights are held in spring and summer, along with many other activities. On the road to Mimbaste, the Bidas fountain, with its recognised medicinal virtues, can be discovered on foot, as can the Benarrucq chapel, built in the 19th century on a promontory near the village. The Lac de Luc area offers walking trails and a leisure centre with mini-golf, pedal boats, fishing, petanque, tennis and children’s games.