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Hautes-Pyrénées (Occitan: Nauts Pirenèus / Hauts Pirenèus) is a department in southwestern Francemarker. It is part of the Midi-Pyrénéesmarker region.

History

Historically the area broadly covered by the département was known as Bigorre, a territory at times independent but later part of Gasconymarker province. Large parts of the area were held by the English after the Treaty of Brétigny, 1360. In the 16th century, it was part of the Huguenot domain of the monarchs of Navarremarker, brought to France by Henri IV. For its early history, see Bigorre and Gasconymarker.

The département of Hautes-Pyrénées was created at the time of the French Revolution, on 4 March 1790, through the influence of Tarbes politician Bertrand Barère, a member of the Convention.

Geography

Hautes-Pyrénées consists of several distinct geographical areas. The Southern portion, along the border with Spain, consists of mountains such as the Vignemalemarker, the Pic du Midi de Bigorremarker, and the Neouvielle and Arbizon ranges. A second area consists of low-altitude rolling hills. The Northern part of the département consists of largely flat agricultural land.

The greater Tarbes area is the economic and administrative focus of the département.

Lourdesmarker is the second-biggest city in Hautes-Pyrénées, dedicated almost exclusively to the pilgrimage industry.

Other towns of note are Bagnères-de-Bigorremarker, Argelès-Gazostmarker, Vic-en-Bigorremarker, Rabastens-de-Bigorremarker, Maubourguetmarker, and Lannemezanmarker.

Of Interest

The Western Pyrenees National Park covers a significant area, and includes well-known attractions such as the Cirque de Gavarniemarker and the Pont d'Espagnemarker. The entire area is a favorite destination of hikers and mountain enthusiasts.

The area has been known perhaps since Antiquity for its hot springs, and several towns were built around these, most notable Cauteretsmarker, Luz-Saint-Sauveurmarker and Bagnères-de-Bigorremarker.

There are a number of popular ski resorts in Hautes-Pyrénées such as Barègesmarker-La Mongiemarker, Gavarniemarker, Luz-Ardidenmarker, Cauteretsmarker and Hautacammarker.

The area is a nearly-permanent fixture on the Tour de France's itinerary, with legendary passes such as the Tourmaletmarker, the Aubisquemarker and the Soulor.

The regions premier avant-garde jazz festivals is held each year in Luz-Saint-Sauveurmarker: Jazz a Luz. Tarbes hosts an annual horse festival, Equestria, and a Tango festival, Tarbes en Tango.

See also: Pyreneesmarker

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