"The oldest known bérets !" Nay Things to Do Tip by kokoryko

Nay Things to Do: 11 reviews and 50 photos

  Detail of the church portal
by kokoryko
  • Detail of the church portal - Nay
      Detail of the church portal
    by kokoryko
  • Church portal - Nay
      Church portal
    by kokoryko
  • The pilgrim with his beret - Nay
      The pilgrim with his beret
    by kokoryko
  • The other with the beret - Nay
      The other with the beret
    by kokoryko

The -so far- oldest know beret representation is located in Bellocq; on the portal of the Notre Dame church of this little village, located 15 km West of Orthez, are two sculptures representing beret wearing men. The church has been built between 1280-1300.
One of the men is a pilgrim (probably on his way to Santiago da Compostella), but the weathering of the other one is too deep to be sure of what he is, but he undoubtedly wears a beret.
These sculptures are a “proof” that the beret has its origins in Bearn. The church of Bellocq is also interesting for its other medieval sculptures on the portal and nearby is a fortress build at the same epoch as the church by Gaston de Moncade, ruler of Bearn , still under renovation.
I will visit this small village again in spring, there is a lot of history there. .

Well, one may say: hey it is a pilgrim, he comes from another country may be, and the sculptor represented a foreigner, and this beret is not Bearnese. ! It is a possibility, but we will see in the next tip that the medieval artists represented themselves or the people of their vicinity, even in very “exotic” situations, so, it is very probable that the beret has its origins in Bearn.

Main picture: Left side of the gothic arch of the portal of the church; among the typical naïve sculptures you see the pilgrim with his walking stick and wearing the beret.
Picture 2: A general view of the portal: notice the door is closed; the small rural churches are open only for masses or for special events; not easy for visiting inside.
Picture 3: The pilgrim for closer view; notice the particular shape of the walking stick: it is a local one, called “bourdon”, still manufactured in the same style nowadays in Bearn (see website below).
Picture: 4 The other beret wearing person
Picture: 5 A tower of the castle of Bellocq, under renovation.

Directions: From Pau go to Orthez, (Highway,or D33 roadon the left bank of the Gave direction Mourenx, then Orthez); at Orthez follow direction Bayonne, and after 14 km (on the right bank this time), you arrive in Puyoo, and there it is indicated.
Website: http://graphikdesigns.free.fr/bellocq-eglise-bearn.html

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 25, 2007
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