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Salies de Béarn - the Venice of the Béarn

Salies de Béarn is a pretty little town that is located in the south-west of France, in the department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. There are those who call it "The Venice of the Béarn", as the houses that stand alongside the river that divides the town in two are built on stilts so that they overhang the waters, creating a similar appearance to the famous Italian city.

Spa town

Salies de Béarn is also a spa town, the hot mineral waters of the town being known for their high salt content. Both thermalism and salt production have been important in the town's economy from as far back as the Bronze Age, in fact the town is also known as the "City of Salt". You can test the waters at the town's baths and visit the Salt Museum to learn more about its history. There are also of course numerous spa treatments to try, the spa treatments in Salies de Béarn being legendary.

Mediaeval charm

The town has roots dating back to the Middle Ages, and there is plenty of mediaeval charm to be found in Salies de Béarn even today. There are narrow streets and alleyways which meander gently around the town, and traces of history everywhere. In summer the little town is bedecked with colourful floral displays, and there are charming corners to be found everywhere, such as the delightfully nostalgic bandstand, the riverside with its unusual houses and the... well, take a leisurely walk and discover the secrets for yourself! Salies de Béarn has a couple of museums which will point you in the right direction if you want to discover the history of the region, one of which is the Salt Museum mentioned previously.

Shopping and dining

For those who may be concerned about being based in a little Bearnais country town, it's good to know that Salies de Béarn is located close to the larger town of Orthez, which has a hypermarket and all mode cons, but the little town itself offers perhaps more amenities than you might expect. There is a range of small shops, a casino, all the usual services and plenty of very good restaurants too, so wining and dining is a simple pleasure and easily accessible. The region is of course, noted for its superb gastronomy, said to be perhaps the finest in France, and the wines produced in the region are excellent.

Cultural events

Salies de Béarn hosts a number of colourful cultural events that you may find of interest. There is a weekly market (held on Thursdays), a painting competition held in July, the Fête du Piperade and a salt festival which takes place on the 1st of September every year. There is certainly plenty going on to entertain and educate.

Out and about

There can hardly be a better part of France for those who enjoy outdoor sports and activities, so buckle your seat belts and settle down for the ride! You have access to the fabulous surf of the Atlantic coast, or the skiing and white water sports of the Pyrénéan Mountains. Somewhere in between the two you will find tennis, horse-riding, swimming, fishing, sailing, walking, rock climbing, cycling, mountain biking... and Salies de Béarn even has a golf course! For the less adventurous, there are always those spa treatments.

How to get there

You can fly to Pau, Biarritz or to Bordeaux. These airports are served variously by BA, Aer Lingus, easyJet, flybe, bmibaby and Ryanair. Rail travel also an option, with the TGV running to Bayonne, Bordeaux, Biarritz and Toulouse. Nearby Orthez has a railway station for local trains. Drivers will find the town close to the N117 or the A64. It actually lies at the junction of the D17 and D30.

Property prices and availability in and around Salies de Béarn

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques tends to be fairly expensive when it comes to property, as the region is blessed with so many natural advantages, making it rather popular, especially with the holiday property market. There are some delightful quality properties currently on the market, however, and these, while not cheap, are not over priced at all and should prove a good investment. Towns with the charm of Salies de Béarn are few and far between, even in rural France, and property in or near such a town will always be desirable.

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Salies de Béarn AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Salies de Béarn?

Salies de Béarn is situated in the far south-west of France, near the Pyrénéan Mountains and the Atlantic coast. It lies in the north of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department.

Salies de Béarn Property Map


Aquitaine Guide

Aquitaine Property Map


Pyrénées-Atlantiques Guide

  Pyrénées-Atlantiques Map

Population: 5,000

Access: By air: The airports of Pau, Biarritz and Bordeaux are all within easy reach. By rail: The TGV runs to Biarritz and Bordeaux. Nearby Orthez has a railway station. By road: The town is located from the N117 or the A64 auto route.

Economy: The economy is based on thermalism and salt.

Interesting fact: The houses alongside the river in Salies de Béarn have earned the town the soubriquet of the "Venice of the Béarn", as they are constructed to overhang the waters on stilts.

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