A short visit
It was because Navarre, in the 13th century, needed commercial access to the sea, that La Bastide Clairence was founded in 1312, a port on the banks of the River Joyeuse, which then flows into the Adour and the Atlantic Ocean. The village is one of the bastides founded in the south-west by decision of lords or local religious authorities: their primary function was to enhance the territory by securing its population. Basques and Gascons have lived together since La Bastide Clairence was founded, which makes it Charnègou or Xarnegu territory with a melting-pot culture. The habitat is very diverse with half-timbered Labourdine style houses, painted in red or green and Navarre style houses in which stone predominates.
The church and the cemeteries
Notre Dame de La Bastide Clairence church was consecrated in 1315 by the Bishop of Pamplona; it was originally the only stone building. The cemetery-courtyard which surrounds the church is surprising but characteristic of churches in the Basque Country; it is still used by descendants of the first Bastidote families. The beautiful wooden platform was reserved for men ... not to better admire the women but because the latter remained near the altar as their role in funeral rites was important. On the path behind the church, we can see an old Jewish cemetery. A community of Sephardi Jews, who had fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition, settled in La Bastide Clairence.
The oldest trinquet (pelota court) in France
This is the oldest trinquet (pelota court) in France. Analysis of its wooden beams enable it to be dated back to the year 1512 and it has remained relatively intact, especially in terms of its proportions. Because it was originally used to play the Jeu de Paume, the Basque population took it over to such an extent that they use it to play around twenty forms of pelota.
Go there at around 5.30 p.m.: the bar is open for Trinquet users, you can even rent it for a little game of pala ! Otherwise, you can enter it during the day through the side door at the end of the corridor to the left of the building.
The village artisans
The town of La Bastide Clairence has long encouraged artisans to settle there.
Their workshops are located under the arcades, in the streets and in the house in Darrieux Park. Each workshop has a particular atmosphere where the visitor can acquire a unique piece of work.