Nay Things to Do Tips by kokoryko
Nay Things to Do: 11 reviews and 50 photos
Farm in Baliros
On your way back to Pau, follow the small D37 road on the left bank of the Gave; if you do not go to Pau, here is something you may miss!
Well this road goes through little villages with typical Bearnese architecture; there are many farmhouses, lots of them being renovated, not always to my taste, but well, its not me who lives there.
Most of the houses have a big decoration plate above the main entrance door, and it is typical here. Probably, in detail there are different styles from one village to the other, but I did not notice. . .
The villages you will go through have also very nice names: Mirepeix, Bourdettes, St Abit, Pardies-Pietat, Baliros. . . etc. . .
Main picture: Farm built with pebbles in Baliros
Picture 2: House in St Abit
Picture 3: Renovated house in Pardies
Picture: 4 House in Bourdettes
Picture: 5 Detail of a plaque above a door
Directions: D37 road from Nay to Pau, left bank of the Gave.
Coming back from your short walk along the river, or just because you like it, you can have a hot chocolate , or a tea at the “Délices Nayais”, a boulangerie-patisserie making also salon de thé. Well, it is a bakery with a tea room.
It is located on the southern side of the square place under the arcades, near the eastern end.
There is a lot of choice in pastries and I can recommend the mille-feuilles, and it seems they have many types of chocolate pastries. .
Main picture: Choice of pastries
Picture 2: Taking care of the pastries . . .
Picture 3: The entrance of the “Délices”
Address: 3 pl République 64800 NAY
Phone: 05 59 92 92 64
The river in Nay is the Gave de Pau ; there is a walking or biking track on its left (west) bank. We can see where the water was turned away to give hydraulic energy to the old mills and factories. It is now a very quiet place with small houses and gardens along and lots of individual small bridges for each house.
I suggest to start the short walk from the bridge, and first go a few metres downstream to look at a salmon ladder; these were build because in dry season the factories took almost all water and the salmons did not have enough water to migrate up. On the bridge we have a view over the Pyrenees with the pic de Gabizos.
Then walk past the fronton(the pink wall for Basque pelota) and just enjoy the water and the light.
Main picture: Reflections in the channel.
Picture 2: Channel on the left, river on the right
Picture 3: Houses and bridges along the channel
Picture: 4 Pic de Gabizos seen from the bridge
Picture: 5 Salmon ladder.
Directions: Just walk along the left bank of the river
Eglise St Vincent and rue St Vincent
The Saint Vincent church is a “indexed” one (In France some monuments are indexed, “monuments classes historiques”, because of their historical or architectural value).
This church has been built during the 15th century and the square tower dates back to the 12th century.
It is a single ship architecture with a 6 arched vaulting at the choir. The 33 meters high tower has the particularity to be square at the base and becomes an octagon from the middle height.
This massive gothic building , as often in Bearn is built with different kind of materials, like big blocks of tan sandstones, bricks and pebbles. These different materials are best seen inside when well lighted by the sun.
The organ dates back to the 17th century and at the back of the church is a baptism room, with a small basin where baptism was done in the old fashion and not just put a few drops of water on the face of the infant.
Main picture: The tower seen from rue St Vincent, arriving from the square place
Picture 2: Close view of the tower where we can see the square shaped base and the higher octagonal part.
Picture 3: Choir with arches; see different building materials in the well lighted areas.
Picture: 4 Painted glass window: 19th century, again a Mauméjean, as in many Bearn churches.
Picture: 5 The baptism room with the basin.
Address: rue Saint Vincent, 64800 NAY
Directions: Rue St Vincent, go North from the North East corner of the square place
Phone: 05 59 61 90 30
The Maison Carrée hosts a museum in the first and second floors; the biggest par of the museum is dedicated to furniture and interior decoration; well, I know a bit subtleties between a Bresse and a Normandy cabinet, but here among the Bearnese, are subtleties between the ones from Monein and the ones from Nay, for instance; just look at the furniture, some are very beautiful examples of furniture, with beautiful wood and carvings. . . . for the ethnographic details. . . . look at the small posters displayed with the objects.
The room themselves with their impressive ceilings or the renaissance heavily decorated fireplace.
The there is a traditional agriculture section with mainly wooden tools, some of which, like the ladder to climb on a hay pile are funny.
And at last, ah, the beret again, there are in a small corner of the second floor some clay figures representing every day life in Bearn, and what I noticed the most, is the presence of the berets on the head of the men.
Main picture: A view of a room in the first floor; look at the impressive rustic ceiling.
Picture 2: Renaissance fire place hood
Picture 3: Agricultural tools display
Picture: 4 Hay ladder, looks like a weapon.
Picture: 5 clay figures: impressive size of the bérets
Visit of the patio is free, if you enter the museum , entrance fee is 3.5 Euros.
Address: Maison Carré - Place de la République, 64800 NAY
Phone: +33 05.59.61.34.61 or 05 59
Western (columns) and southern wings
This patrician house which now hosts the tourist office at its basement is one of the rare renaissance buildings left in its original state in Nay. In the first and second floor is a “Bearnese Museum.”
It is a very rare building in Aquitaine: it is a typical Tuscany style house, build in the middle of the 16th century with a square patio; when entering this patio, you see the high arcades with galleries on three levels; in front of you, a building with high renaissance windows, left the main entrance and above, wooden galleries, and if you turn back, you see the entrance portal and above the seal of the owner (at the time of construction).
I discovered here that the builders of the time did not hesitate to mix (here in fact superpose) architectural styles, as you can see on the arcades where 3 Greek types of columns are one above the other and I even remembered from what I learned at school: Doric at the basement, Ionic in the middle and Corinthian at the top. The patio is very sober laid out only with pebbles.
Originally, shops were devoted to the basement, big wide room were for reception in the first floor and living places were in the second floor. The third floor not accessible was probably the servants area.
Today, besides hosting the tourist office and a museum, the Maison Carrée is also a small cultural centre, where some lectures are given or concerts played.
Main picture: The corner between the columns wing and the back wing (the back is what you see in front of you when you enter. . . . well. . . !)
Picture 2: The column wing with the different styles of columns.
Picture 3: Gallery on the second floor
Picture: 4 The seal when you turn back to the street
Picture: 5 The columns wing seen through a first floor window
Address: Maison Carré - Place de la République, 64800 NAY
Directions: Souther side of the square place
Phone: +33 05.59.61.34.61 or 05 59
View of the village and church
Ah ! now a few words about the village of Nay itself. It is a typical bastide of which two sides are left, with the arcades. The Eastern side is now the main entrance to the village coming from the bridge over the Gave. The western side is the city hall (hotel de ville).
To have a good view over the bastide, is is possible to enter the city hall and go to the first floor balcony where access is free; well you may see mostly a car parking but the sides are made of the old houses with arcades.
After your visit to the museum just take few minutes walking around, look at the houses, the ceilings in the arcades and. . . discover the Maison Carrée, (the square house), we will see in the next tip.
Main picture: View of the village with church, seen from the bridge over the Gave
Picture 2: City hall seen from under the northen arcades
Picture 3: Square place seen from the city hall balcony; souther side arcades
Picture: 4 Under the arcades
Picture: 5 The blazon of Nay on the post office building; already wool with the two rams.
Directions: Walk around the square place and in the small streets.
It is what is said and written here in Nay and it might be true! Strange idea to make a museum about that small piece of clothing!
Once in Nay, the museum is easy to find, as there are signs everywhere, and you cannot miss it. It is located in a former factory, not far from the river (hydraulic power) from the19th century.
When you enter the building, you see a souvenir shop (mainly bérets, of course!) on your left side and a part of the museum on the right.
For the visit you have first to watch a 15 mn video about the history of the béret, and, I would say folkloric pictures and characters about the beret.
Then you can visit the museum, displaying machines on the basement (knitting machines, carding machines, etc. . . ) with some boards for explanations.
On the first floor, some more machines, samples of berets in a showcase and some posters showing celebrities wearing a beret.
Well, one hour is enough to visit the museum, and then if you are seduced, you may buy something in the shop. It is a bit a disappointingly small museum, but as there is only one topic, it is difficult to do more may be. However that may be, if you are in the Nay area, don’t miss it, you may learn a lot about this headgear, it is a bit fun to spend one hour in beret environment, and for myself, I liked to discover the history in the video.
Main picture: Entrance of the museum; old factory building
Picture 2: Old knitting machines
Picture 3: Close look at a knitting machine
Picture: 4 Some beret wearing celebrities
Picture: 5 The door button of the museum is a beret
Entry : 4 Euros
From April 1st to October 31st: open every day 10-12 and 14-18
From November 1st to March 31st : open Wednesday and Saturday 14-18 and Tuesday 10-12 and 14-18.
Address: Place Saint Roch - 64800 NAY
Directions: Arriving in Nay, just after crossing the bridge, turn right, park your car on the small parking place, then go the street down for about 400 m: it's there
Phone: +33 (0)5 59 61 91 70
A Béret is made of wool and it is not just a circular piece of cloth cut from common textile. Originally the bérets were hand-knitted by the shepherds when they were watching their sheep flocks. Nowadays it is still wool but machine knitted. Once a knitted piece is big enough it is “beaten” with wooden hammers till it becomes felt, like a billiard carpet.
Then it is coloured (originally they had the colour of the wool and in many Pyrenean valleys the sheep were brown), then they are grated and shaved and finally a leather band and a piece of satin inside are sewn to finish this piece of art! More (and better?) explanations at the Musée du Béret (next tip).
Why do many people call it a Béret Basque or a Basque? Nothing is sure: it is said Napoleon III supervising the construction of the palace of Eugenie in Biarritz, saw many people wearing a beret and thought it was a local headgear, and told about “beret Basque”, and as he was an emperor, nobody dared to contradict. . . . A more prosaic explanation is that Basque traders bulk-bought berets in Bearn and then retailed them with Basque village names.
What is sure, this headgear is a symbol for French, Basque, bearnese people. Even a young kokoryko wore it long time ago. . . . . .
Main picture: A Béret on a Bearnese head in Pau
Picture 2: A colour assortment (www.basquexplorer.com)
Picture 3: Just a passer-by in a village
Picture: 4 Petanque player wear berets also
Picture: 5 Young kokoryko (posing here, but knew to drive that kind of team)
Directions: Best is to go to the next tip where is information about the béret museum.
This time, we go to Oloron Ste Marie, and visit quickly the cathedral, preferably during Christmas season. Oloron deserves a long VT page for itself, but for the beret history we just go to the treasure room of the cathedral. Here is a Nativity crib from the end 17th century (author unknown) where we can see the peasants and shepherds visiting the Messiah, holding respectfully their berets in their hands. This beautiful painted wood sculpture is typically local art and again the beret is there! And in Galilea, the shepherds wore keffiehs or turbans rather than berets! Hahaha.
In other places of Bearn are old paintings in churches or monasteries where the beret is present here or there.
Main picture: A general view of the Nativity crib; this wooden painted sculptures ensemble is about 1.5 m wide. Look at the persons left and right holding the beret in their hands.
Picture 2: The shepherd with the red beret.
Picture 3: The shepherd with the black beret.
Oloron Ste Marie is located south of Pau, and road signs indicate the directions from Pau. If you make a tour in the Aspe valley departing from Pau (or even go to Spain via the Somport pass or tunnel), you go through Oloron. In Oloron, go to the old Cathedral, in the Ste Marie area of the town (South), do not go to the ugly 19th century church, which is unfortunately the easiest to see from far.
Directions: 30 km south west of Pau
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