Prefecture building of the Hautes-Pyrénées department, in Tarbes
Location of Hautes-Pyrénées in France
|• President of the General Council||Michel Pelieu|
|• Total||4,464 km2 (1,724 sq mi)|
|• Density||51/km2 (130/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2|
Historically the area broadly covered by the département was known as Bigorre, a territory at times independent but later part of Gascony province. Large parts of the area 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 by Henri IV. For its early history, see Bigorre and Gascony.
Hautes-Pyrénées consists of several distinct geographical areas. The southern portion, along the border with Spain, consists of mountains such as the Vignemale, the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, and the Neouvielle and Arbizon ranges. A second area consists of low-altitude rolling hills. The Northern part of the département consists of largely flat agricultural land. Hautes-Pyrénées has two small territorial exclaves—a remnant from the Middle Ages—located within the neighboring département of Pyrenees-Atlantiques.
The greater Tarbes area is the economic and administrative focus of the département, while Lourdes, the second-biggest city in Hautes-Pyrénées, is dedicated almost exclusively to the religious pilgrimage industry.
The Western Pyrenees National Park covers a significant area, and includes well-known attractions such as the Cirque de Gavarnie and the Pont d'Espagne. The entire area is a favorite destination of hikers and mountain enthusiasts.
The region's premier avant-garde jazz festival is held each year in Luz-Saint-Sauveur: Jazz a Luz. Tarbes hosts an annual horse festival, Equestria, and a Tango festival, Tarbes en Tango.