1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bagnères-de-Bigorre

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BAGNÈRES-DE-BIGORRE, a town of south-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées, 13 m. S.S.E. of Tarbes on a branch line of the Southern railway. Pop. (1906) 6661. It is beautifully situated on the left bank of the Adour, at the northern end of the valley of Campan, and the vicinity abounds in picturesque mountain scenery. The town is remarkably neat and clean and many of the houses are built or ornamented with marble. It is one of the principal watering-places in France, and has some fifty mineral springs, characterized chiefly by the presence of sulphate of lime or iron. Their temperature ranges approximately from 59° to 122° Fahr., and they are efficacious in cases of rheumatism, nervous affections, indigestion and other maladies. The season begins in May and terminates about the end of October, during which time the population is more than doubled. The Promenade des Coustous is the centre of the life of Bagnères. Close by stands the church of St Vincent of the 14th and 15th centuries. The old quarter of the town, in which there are several old houses, contains a graceful octagonal tower of the 15th century, the remains of a Jacobin monastery. The Néothermes, occupying part of the casino, and the Thermes (dating from 1824), which has a good library, are the principal bathing-establishments; both are town property. The other chief buildings include the Carmelite church, remains of the old church of St Jean, a museum and the town-hall. Bagnères has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, and a communal college. The manufacture of barège, a light fabric of silk and wool, and the weaving and knitting of woollen goods, wood-turning and the working of marble found in the neighbourhood and imported from elsewhere, are among the industries, and there are also slate quarries. Bagnères was much frequented by the Romans, under whom it was known as Vicus Aquensis, but afterwards lost its renown. It begins to appear again in history in the 12th century when Centulle III., count of Bigorre, granted it a liberal charter. The baths rose into permanent importance in the 16th century, when they were visited by Jeanne d'Albret, mother of Henry IV., and by many other distinguished persons.