The market, the spa district, the casino and the surrounding mountains ... it's great living here!
Country Markets (in the morning)
Monday: Luz Saint-Sauveur
Wednesday: Barèges (May to October)
Sunday: Arrens-Marsous (July-August)
A brief history of the town
Built at the crossroads of the Azun, Cauterets and Luz valleys, throughout the centuries Argelès-Gazost has always benefited from its remarkable geographical position. The true story of Argelès or rather that of the communities that gave birth to it, begins in the Middle Ages. Originally, the city consisted of three distinct areas:
• Vieuzac in the north, with its village and its seigniory.
• Argelès in the middle, more spread out with its Canerie district
• Ourout to the south, with its seigniory and castle which still remains to this day.
As early as 1292, a weekly market was in place on Tuesdays (and still is) and quickly became the largest trading centre of the valley with rural populations from the high valleys and Lourdes-Piedmont converging on a weekly basis.
It is in the nineteenth century that the destiny of Argelès was decided. With the creation of the Imperial road, the arrival of the railway in 1870 and the construction of the train station, the town began to attract summer visitors - mostly English and Russian - seduced by the beauty of the area and the mild climate. But, it is mainly the town's purchase of the Gazost hot springs which allowed the town to develop into a spa town. The addition of a spa, a casino, an English park and beautiful villas made Argelès more attractive to visitors.
In 1896, at the height of its fame, Argelès-de-Bigorre became Argelès-Gazost by associating its name with that of the thermal spring’s district. This name prevented the small town of Gazost from falling into oblivion, and allowed Argelès to show its appreciation to this small town which had been unable to exploit its hot springs.
Argelès-Gazost is still a pleasant and idyllic holiday resort where you can savour its mountain charms and discover its Pyrenean spirit.
From 1292 onwards market day is set to Tuesday and is soon the largest trading centre in the valley, becoming over the centuries a real institution that shaped the life and customs of the Argelians.
A little history...
The first known market had always been on Tuesday, first on the Place de la Péguille, then on the Place du Pouey in front of the current town hall. It is only much later on that the market begins to spill over into all the streets and squares of the upper town.
At the end of the 17th century, the market extends to the Place de la Halle, now the church square. The market then moves closer to the centre, on a meadow once used to keep the animals, which is developed to create the "Foirail". The construction of the church in 1860 gives the town a new heart. This market has always been very lively: welcoming teeth pullers, tightrope walkers, rides, fairground attractions, hawkers, animal and bear trainers, games, songwriters alongside other stalls!
In the middle of the twentieth century, the progressive impoverishment of agriculture saw the sale of cereal and farm produce disappear. The Péguille was then decommissioned and the market refocused on the Foirail.
The Argelès-Gazost market is still a very lively event, a market for of all kinds of things but also an essential meeting and trading place!
The thermal park and its beautiful villas
The Thermal Park
It is lovely to stroll in this 5 hectare park, a vestige to the “Belle époque” where you can also find a beautiful children's play area.
The park was built between 1885 and 1890, shortly after the spa, as part of an urban planning operation to create a new spa district. It is its benefactor, Hector Sassère, who contributed to its creation by offering his grounds to create the spa park, landscaped with small groves and decorated with floral areas with a stream running through it.
When it was created, the goal was to offer a comfortable, beautiful and healthy living environment to the privileged local population and spa guests. Attracted by its microclimate and the popularity of Pyrénéniste literature, the curists were keen to build large villas around the beautiful thermal establishment. These villas were made of bricks and pebbles.
The beautiful villas of the thermal spa district
Unique Hotels and villas were built around the English park and welcomed a wealthy clientele: famous people, be it writers or queens frequented these places. From Emile Zola to Queen Nathalie of Serbia to the last Empress of Austria, big names gave Argeles-Gazost its reputation the it retained its Pyrenean charm.
Even today, the spa area and the park are relaxing places set amongst beautiful villas where you can take a walk and relax!
The Casino and the Petit Théâtre de la Gare
Located in the spa park, the Casino offers many games and activities throughout the year. It is also a perfect place to taste the local gastronomy at "Terrasses du Parc", the terrace restaurant belonging to the casino. Argelès-Gazost Casino puts on shows, concerts, karaoke and theme nights!
The Petit Théâtre de la Gare (little theatre at the station)
For more than 20 years, the former train station hangars have welcomed many passionate souls driven by the same objective: to create a cultural venue in the valley, open to all the public with a quality offering.
Throughout the year, there is a contemporary and eclectic mix of performances: theatre productions, fairy tales, musical evenings and all kinds of events. The Tétralyre, amateur dramatics group, provides excellent performances and offers theatre classes for young and old, as well as contemporary dance and theatrical improvisation classes. This Little Theatre thinks big and is sure to be a big success!
Walks around the town
Promenade of the Arrieulat
Practical information: 2hr walk, 200m height gain
A pleasant shady path in summer, following the mill canal to Gave d'Azun and then opening up onto the meadows of Arras and towards Val d'Azun (route 16 in "The Trails of Lavedan" guide book).
The Balandrau walk
Practical information: 3hr walk, 140m height gain
From the Vieuzac district, follow the path that leads to the Balandrau stones and the villages of l’Extrême de Salles (route 15 in "The Trails of Lavedan" guide book).
The Flower Walk
Discover the hidden charms of Argelès-Gazost. Follow the yellow markers with the red flowers, map available at Argelès-Gazost tourist office.
Activities and festivities
Whether you are passionate about culture, nature lovers, partygoers or parents, there is something for everyone in this varied program: Estiv'art, festival of transhumance, Muchas Bandas festival, Fiesta Mômes (kids’ festival) and many others!