Hasparren : urban and rural
An extra-large surface area
With its 11 districts and 77 km², Hasparren is one of the most extensive towns in the Basque Country. Certain districts like Urcuray, on the road to Cambo les Bains, and Zelai at the foot of Mt. Ursuia, are mini-villages near the town with their fronton (pelota wall) and amenities. Further away, the Pilota Plaza and Paxkoenia districts located in the Landes de Hasparren give the impression of being alone in the world ... hilly landscapes covered with ferns offer a permanent panorama of the Basque mountains facing south; for clay-pigeon or real pigeon shooting enthusiasts, it is clear that they can go about their activity here far from the public eye.
After having probably been an oppidum (protohistoric fortified habitat), Hasparren was the capital of a territory of the Civitas de Dax. The 3rd century inscription inside the church mentions Hasparren as a town in Novempopulania, a province of the Roman Empire. On the wall of St. Jean the Baptiste church opposite Place des Tilleuls, take a look at the reproduction of a Roman stone discovered in 1660 during work to expand the building. Take the opportunity to enter and admire its magnificent wooden balconies; the church remains open to visitors during the day.
The women's rebellion
In the Middle Ages, Hasparren's main activity centred on artisan crafts, thanks to the work of tanners, chocolate makers and "duranguiers" (wool textile workers), making the town an important place of trade. In 1784, there was an uprising by the women of Hasparren who protested against the establishment of a commercial tax. Their rebellion was so strong that it spread to neighbouring towns. The steeple of the church was knocked down in retaliation; it was rebuilt in 1816 and has not been modified since.
The golden age of footwear
From the 18th century, the population of Hasparren started to increase. Although agricultural activity remained an important resource, the town prospered until the 1980s thanks to the shoe industry which employed 2,500 of the town’s citizens at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1950s, around fifteen factories were in operation and sold their shoes in Bordeaux, Toulouse and even in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile through the Basque diaspora, the children of emigrants who settled on the South American continent. As you stroll through Hasparren, go and see the fronton wall and the exterior of the building of the former Ary shoe factory, the last remnant of this prosperous period before our shoes were made in more distant lands.
Agriculture, the other facet of Hasparren
Make no mistake, when you arrive in Hasparren you will understand that you have reached inland Basque Country. The landscape is shaped by agricultural activity and the presence of sheep, horses and cows in fenced meadows on the hills constantly reminds us of this. The town has no fewer than 200 farms and is home to a recognized training centre for agricultural apprentices on the road to Urcuray. Let's take the opportunity to take a little tour of Hasparren market on Saturday morning where almost all of the stands are run by small, local producers. Near the church you can also find Zarea, a local produce store (“basket” in Basque) set up by about fifteen farmers all engaged in the Idoki farm charter or in organic farming.
The poet's rest
"The mountain of Hasparren, my last homeland, affixes to the sky the line of Ursuia, and this signature bears witness that my life, lofty in the gloom of the evening was stripped from me."
The poet Francis Jammes (1868-1938) moved to Hasparren in 1920 with his family to Maison Eihartzea following an inheritance. "Painful mysteries", one of his most famous poems, was adapted by Georges Brassens for his song "The prayer". His last home now hosts cultural associations in Hasparren.
Not to be missed in Hasparren
The Berria Trinquet (pelota court)
The Berria trinquet (pelota court) was built in 1929 in Rue Francis Jammes in a beautiful neo-Basque style residence that also housed a hotel-restaurant. It was splendidly renovated in 2018 by the Charritton family from the Lauak aeronautical group. The steel framework has been preserved and skylights in the roof light up the kantxa or cancha, the court. Pilotazaleak (pelota enthusiasts) can attend the bare-hand pelota games safely behind the glass walls that. protect the stands. Go see a bare-hand pelota game during the masters in June or during the Thursday games at 6 p.m. in July and August. Le Berria is also a good restaurant and a superb hotel ..
From the north of the Basque Country after crossing the River Adour, Mt. Ursuia is the first mountain in the Basque Country that you will come across; it reaches an altitude of 675 metres. Its name is derived from the Basque word “Urtzun” which contains “Ur”, meaning “water” in Basque. And there are indeed many springs on this the mountain. It is a paradise for hikers and mountain bikers, and you can enjoy a breath-taking panorama with little effort. From the top, the entire Basque coast from Bayonne to Hendaye can be seen. From Mt. Jaizkibel above Irun and Mt. Rhune, to the Basque and Béarn Pyrenean mountain range as far as the peak of Midi de Bigorre in fine clear weather.
Going up Mt. Ursuia on foot from the Zelai district (link to hiking file).
Have a nice beer “made in Hasparren”
What is the link between Hasparren and a local beer brewery? Bob Worboys, who has been living in France for over 20 years. In 2006, he challenged himself to make a local beer in the footsteps of his grandfather from the Stourton brewery in Cambridge and thus, Etxeko Bob's Beer brewery was founded ... Opposite the Berria trinquet (pelota court), open the door to visit it and find out about the manufacturing process and ingredients of their beer: spring water from Ursuia, malt barley grown in the Basque Country ...
Lehengo Hazparne, Hasparren in bygone days
Lehengo Hazparne day is proudly presented as “The most beautiful festival in the Basque Country”, and rightly so. Organized every two years on the second Sunday in August, Lehengo Hazparne recreates village life at the start of the 20th century. Everyone dresses as they did in the old days and the inhabitants reproduce a Basque wedding the way it used to take place at that time: the bride and groom’s procession, with the family and presentation of the bride's dowry; a real ceremony in St-Jean Baptiste church ... The inhabitants play along and, throughout the day, you can attend demonstrations of the trades of yesteryear, pelota games and Basque strongman competitions, dancing and singing in Hasparren, completely car-free for the occasion ... Next festivities in August 2022
Cow running races
Evidence of cow running races being organised in Hasparren has been found dating back to 1750. Originally organised in all the streets of the town centre with oxen then domestic cows, the very lively, “vachettes landaises” games involving cows reared in local cattle farms (ganaderias) replaced them in 1924. Young people at the time wanted to give this popular entertainment a boost... In the sixties, these events were organized during the Carnival period. In summer, games of running with young cows in the church square take place on Sunday afternoon, as well as “comico” bull-leaping shows on Wednesday at the municipal arena.