Athos-Aspis is located immediately to the north-west of Sauveterre-de-Béarn and just east of Abitain. Access to the commune is by the D27 road from Sauveterre-de-Béarn passing through the east of the commune and going north to Oraas. Access to the village can be by several country roads from the D27 including Arriouteque going to Lespitaou and also the Village road. Apart from the village there is the hamlet of Aspis in the south of the commune. There are significant forests in the east of the commune with the rest farmland.
The Gave d'Oloron forms the whole southern and eastern borders of the commune as it flows north to join the Gave de Pau at Peyrehorade. The Arriouyeque flows from the east of the commune through the centre to join the Gave d'Oloron on the western border. The Ruisseau de Rance rises just east of the commune and flows south-west to join the Arriouteque. The Arrec Heure forms most of the northern border of the commune as it flows west to join the Gave d'Oloron at the north-western corner of the commune.
The commune name in béarnais is Atos-Aspins.
For Athos Michel Grosclaude proposed the patronym Ato with the Aquitaine suffix -ossum. For Aspis Michel Grosclaude proposed a Gascon etymology es pins meaning "the pines".
The following table details the origins of the commune name and other names in the commune.
Sources:Raymond: Topographic Dictionary of the Department of Basses-Pyrenees, 1863, on the page numbers indicated in the table. (French)
Grosclaude: Toponymic Dictionary of communes, Béarn, 2006 (French)
Orpustan: Jean-Baptiste Orpustan, New Basque Toponymy
Cassini: Cassini Map from 1750
Cassini2: Cassini Map from 1790
Origins:Marca: Pierre de Marca, History of Béarn.
Cartulary: Cartulary of the Abbey of Saint-Jean de Sorde
Notaries: Notaries of Labastide-Villefranche
Census: Census of Béarn
Reformation: Reformation of Béarn
Paul Raymond noted on page 16 that in 1385 Athos had 19 fires and depended on the Bailiwick of Sauveterre as did the fief of Aspis as noted on page 15.
The villages of Athos and Aspis were united into one commune on 10 January 1842.
During the Reformation the Priest at Athos was murdered in his church and the village adopted the new ideas.
Athos is the birthplace of Athos, one of the title characters in the novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. The fictional Athos is named after the historical musketeer Armand de Sillègue d'Athos d'Autevielle (1615–1644), youngest son of Adrien de Sillègue, Lord of Athos and Autevielle. Autevielle is another nearby village in the commune of Autevielle-Saint-Martin-Bideren.
List of Successive Mayors
(Not all data is known)
The commune is part of five inter-communal structures:the inter-communal centre for social action of Sauveterre-de-Béarn;
the Community of communes of Sauveterre-de-Béarn;
the inter-communal association for rivers and of Saleys;
the AEP association of Sauveterre-de-Béarn;
the Energy association of Pyrénées-Atlantiques;
In 2010 the commune had 185 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger towns that have a sample survey every year.Population Change (See database)
Sources : Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1962, INSEE database from 1968 (population without double counting and municipal population from 2006)
From 1793 to 1836 the communes of Athos and Aspis were separate but the above table shows the total for both communes during that period.
Economic activity is mainly agricultural. The commune is part of the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) zone of Ossau-iraty.
There are the houses of Lascampagnes, the consul Gourlat, and of Bouchoô the place where Monsigneur Bouchoô was born.
Aspis has a château from the 14th century facing the Gave d'Oloron with a terrace and a door to the garden. There is also the site of an old church and the old school.
At Athos there is a church of Romanesque origin in the old fief of Moliède d'Athos where there was a well-known ferry and ruins of a mill.
The Church of Saint-Pierre is of Romanesque origin and contains a renaissance stoup and a Statue on the Virgin in coloured wood. Behind the Altar is the tomb of Jeanne du Peyrer "Lady of Athos and Aspis" and mother of the musketeer. The renaissance door has a stone carving from the 14th century upside down (it was probably a stone that was reused).
The cemetery has the tomb of the design engineer of the Sauveterre bridge and also that of Edmond Gourlat, consul of France and local personality.
The birth of the musketeer Athos in the commune is debatable. A plaque near the church says that he was born in the Lassalle house where only parts of walls remain but the village of Autevielle also claims his birth in the fortified house of Moliède d'Athos which has some remains of strong walls.
Athos was the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Boucho, born in the Bouchoô house in 1797, French Apostolic vicar of the Malay peninsula.