Tarbes (Au pied des Pyrénées) is on the river Adour and just east of the Esner. Both rivers arise in the mountains to the south and join together north of the city. Remains from the 3rd Century BC suggest that Tarbes was a stopping point for those from Aquitaine looking for salt in the mountains. The Romans came next, and by the 4th century the Church had arrived. The region has been known perhaps since Antiquity for its hot springs, and several towns were built around these, most notable Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
Tradition has preserved the names of Saint Girinus and Saint Evex (or Erex), as the first martyrs of Bigorre. The district was laid waste by the Vandals, and terrorized by the Visigoths. Aper, represented at the Council of Agde in 506, is the first historically known bishop of the Tarbes See. The Vikings led a devastating raid on the area, after which the Bishop of Bigorre begins a cathedral in Tarbes called, with originality, la cathédrale de la Sède (of the See). The current struture dates mainly from the 12th (Romanesque) and 13th centuries (Gothic) (restored in the 18th century after the religious wars of the 16th).
The Benedictine monastery of St. Savin of Lavedan was founded by Charlemagne and shortly took the name of the hermit and miracle worker, Saint Savin, who was one of its monks and died before 840.The Benedictine Abbeys of St. Orens of Larreule and of St. Orens of Lavedan were founded, one in 970 and the other before the eleventh century in honour of St. Orens, Bishop of Auch, who had first lived as a hermit in the Lavedan. And, there were others established in the next millenium, including l'Abbaye de St Sever de Rustan, which has become the Musée Massey as well as a pleasant park. There were several historic pilgrimages however the true fame of the Diocese of Tarbes has been spread throughout the Christian world since 1858 by the pilgrims from and the miracles worked at Lourdes. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14453a.htm
Large parts of the Hautes-Pyrénées were held by the English after the Treaty of Brétigny, 1360. In the 16th century, it was part of the Huguenot domain of the monarchs of Navarre, brought to France when its king became Henri IV of France. The département of Hautes-Pyrénées was created at the time of the French Revolution, on March 4th 1790, through the influence of Tarbes politician Bertrand Barère, a member of the Convention. Industry developed after the Revolution, with arms production a key, because of its distance from the front. There are a number of popular ski resorts in Hautes-Pyrénées, such as Barèges-La Mongie, Gavarnie, Luz-Ardiden, Cauterets and Hautacam. The area is a nearly-permanent fixture on the Tour de France's itinerary, with legendary passes such as the Tourmalet, the Aubisque and the Soulor. Tarbes from the Air
Tarbes claims Maréchal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), the commander-in-chief of Allied forces in World War I, who was born there. Day 9 of the 2009 Tour de France ended in this town. Then it was on to Limoges by plane for a rest day. Tarbes Photos & http://www.letour.fr/us/homepage_horscourseTDF.html
A few nearby towns: Pau -- Bayonne -- Bordeaux -- Auch -- Périgueux and Agen -- Bayonne and Dax -- Toulouse