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Dax

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Dax is one of France's top spa towns, with its hot springs and mud baths, and has held this position since Roman times, when, according to legend, the Emperor Augustus brought his daughter Julia here for a rheumatic cure; such eminent custom assured Dax's reputation.

Whether the legend is true or not, there has been a settlement there since long before the Romans got there, a lake village built on stilts, but as recent archaeological discoveries have proved, the Romans developed it into a city. Along with much of Aquitaine it belonged to Britain between the 12th and 15th centuries, and has grown in to an important commercial and agricultural centre - resin from the pine forest of the Landes is one significant product.

Dax lies on the border between the Chalosse area and the pine forests of the Landes and has played a pivotal role in the turbulent history of France. For some 15 centuries the town was a fortress until the last century, when most of the 1,465m fortified wall and a strong castle, thought to have been built by Richard the Lionheart, were demolished to make way for expansion in more peaceful times.

Now riverside walks along the banks of the Adour, colourful public gardens and Dax's long history make this city a popular stop on the tourist trail.


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Things to do in Dax

Historic thermal and mud baths Spas
The famous mudbaths of Dax come from mixing the alluvial deposits of the Adour with the hot spring water. Water from the hot spring in the centre emerges into the fountain at a constant 64 degrees Centigrade (147 degrees Farenheit)
Equestrian centre Horse Riding
Préchacq-les-Bains, 16km from Dax Spas
Hot springs containing calcium sulphate and a cool (18 deg C or 64 deg F) sulphur spring

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Things to see in Dax

Bull Fighting Arena Bull Fighting and Course Landaise
One of the major centres of bull-fighting in the area: August is the main month.
17th century cathedral Cathedrals and Abbeys
Dax's cathedral was started in the 17th century in the classical style to replace a Gothic church which had collapsed. All that remains of the latter is a doorway, incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral itself took 275 years to build!
Church of St Paul-les-Dax Churches
11th century church with interesting exterior relief carvings of dragons and all sorts of beasts and people.
Notre-Dame de Buglose Churches
This church has become the centre of pilgrimage since the discovery, in 1620, of a statue of the Virgin in multi-coloured stone.
Roman crypt Historic remains
Just opposite the museum of Borda recent digs have uncovered the remains of a second century Roman temple.
Close to St Paul-les-Dax Lakes
Large lake close to St Paul-les-Dax
Berceau de St Vincent de Paul Monuments and buildings
The birthplace of a remarkable French saint who did much in the 17th century to help the poor and the sick, a virtual fore-runner of modern social services
Museum of Borda Museums
A good local museum with interesting displays on the history of the area from prehistoric times onwards.
1st Division Rugby Team Rugby
Saturday market Shopping and Markets
Dax's market on Saturday was first fixed by the Black Prince, and the locals have a saying: "That will last less than Dax market".

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