Welcome to Tarbes, a charming commune located in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Occitanie region of southwestern France. This historical city is the capital of Bigorre and of the Hautes-Pyrénées, and has been a commune since 1790. Tarbes is part of the historical region of Gascony and is known for its strong industrial tradition. Today, Tarbes is diversifying its activities, particularly in aeronautics and high tech around the different zones of activities which are increasing. The recent development of Tarbais beans and other regional specialties also shows a willingness to develop the agri-food industry thus justifying its nickname of market town. With its 42,888 inhabitants, Tarbes is a bustling city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity.
Geographically, Tarbes is located in the rich agricultural plain of the river Adour, 155 kilometres (96 miles) southwest of Toulouse, 144 kilometres (89 miles) to the east of Bayonne, 70 kilometres (43 miles) southwest of Auch and 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Lourdes. Tarbes is 1 hr 30 mins from the Atlantic Ocean, 2 hrs 50 mins from the Languedoc coast and 35 minutes from the nearest ski resorts. It is located at an average elevation of 304 metres (997 feet). To the south of Tarbes, along with the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, is the border with Spain. The Pyrenees mountains, lying along the border between France and Spain, can be seen from the town.
Tarbes features an oceanic climate, with relatively hot summers, mild winters and abundant rainfall. Tarbes benefits from its privileged location in the area of the Adour, a milder microclimate than at Lourdes, from a higher altitude, and somewhat less rainy than in Pau, and sunnier. Summers are warm and often stormy, while spring is rainy and cool and autumn is mild and sunny. Winter, meanwhile, is less rigorous but can still hold some surprises.
Tarbes has a rich history that dates back to the Roman times. The name of the town was recorded in the 5th century as Civitas Turba ubi castrum Bigòrra. It was an important town in Novempopulania, one of the Roman provinces at that time. Legend holds that the Queen of Ethiopia, Tarbis, proposed her love to Moses and that he refused. Inconsolable, she decided to leave her throne and hide her disappointment. After many wanderings, she arrived in Bigorre and built her home on the Adour to found the town of Tarbes, and its sister, on the banks of the Gave de Pau, arose as Lourdes.
Tarbes is the second industrial city of the region, particularly illustrated in the field of railway construction and aeronautics with the presence of nearby companies such as Alstom and Daher. Daher-Socata manufactures business and tourism aircraft there, including the TBM 850 and TB 20. Its headquarters and its main industrial site are located on the outskirts of the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport in the canton of Ossun, south of Grand Tarbes. Tarbes also houses the second University centre of the Midi-Pyrénées with a University Institute of technology (IUT) and National School of Engineers of Tarbes (ENIT) having more than 5,000 students.
Tarbes is a city of strong military character and is the seat of the diocese of Tarbes-et-Lourdes. The 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment and 35th Parachute Artillery Regiment are stationed in Tarbes. The town is also home to important halls and market squares, allowing opportunities for local agriculture. Symbol of the local food industry, a Cooperative of tarbais beans including emerged at the heart of the Bastillac zone.
Tarbes is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine, Tarbes is a must-visit destination for every traveler’s bucket list.