The valley known as the "valley of the Aldudes” is the highest part of the Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry valley. It comprises the three villages of Banca, Aldudes and Urepel, which have preserved the Basque Country traditions. Here pastoralism takes on its full meaning, especially in the Pays Quint.
You will be able to enjoy a multitude of gastronomic stopovers (AOP ham, trout, cheese), and sports activities (hiking, mountain biking, fishing and hunting). Not to mention the stunning panoramas over the mountain peaks such as Hargibel, which add to the location’s appeal.
Not to be missed
Portrait of the valley
Portrait of the valley of the Aldudes
The valley of the Aldudes, in the heart of Basse Navarre, has the reputation of being one of the most isolated in the northern Basque Country. Situated above Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry, it comprises three villages: Banca, at an altitude between 200 m and 1,300 m, Aldudes, birthplace of the Basque pig, and Urepel, gatewaye to the Pays Quint and the mountainous area of Sorogain.
Its landscapes in the heart of the mountains, and its location next to Spain, make it one of the most renowned hiking spots. You can also explore the Haira Forest, a beech tree forest, to reach the village of Urepel by the small mountain roads.
Banca, the first village in the valley, is known for its iron and copper mines, which were exploited from Roman times up until the 19th century. At the entrance to the village, you can admire one of its ancient furnaces, which is still standing.
Foundation of the valley and its stories
The villages in the valley of the Aldudes were founded by the youngest sons of the Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry families, from the 16th century. They transformed the shepherds' huts (the bordes) into permanent homes. Banca was once a quarter of Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry, known as “The Foundry”. The nickname came from its mining operations. Aldudes church contains the rosary of the Emperor Maximilien I of Mexico (brother-in-law of Sissi). It was purchased at an auction by one of the villagers who bequeathed it to the parish. Urepel is the gateway to the Pays Quint. This mountainous zone, a condominium under international law, is part of Spain but is administered by France. The land belongs to the Spanish government, however the families who live there are French.
Hunting in the valley
Hunting is one of the favoured activities in the valley, starting in autumn. Every year, many hunters can be seen, hunting pigeon in particular. This time of year is known as “blue fever” in the Basque Country, in reference to the pigeon’s blue feathers.
The valley of the Aldudes is one of the last to use traditional hunting techniques, known as “net hunting” or “pantière”.
Hiking and fishing
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