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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

by Wikimedia Commons

A "Bastide" means "Fortified" (in French: bastide; in Occitan: bastida; in Latin: bastit, bastia. Always means "construction"). This was a particular type of concerted urban development during the Middle Ages, built with a defensive purpose and economic exploitation, emerged during the thirteenth century from areas of southwestern of France in Aquitaine and Occitania and planning for settlements and restocking in those regions. As you see the idea was simple: political and business control. War and market have always walked, both together, hand by hand.

Its construction was a contract between the feudal lord, he could also be an abbot, who donated a territory, and the crown of France, which was responsible for populating. The new inhabitants plow and prepare the land for cultivation and enjoy the security offered by the walls of their new village, in a time when all parties are afraid of bandits. On the other hand, people have guaranteed of certain economic tranquility. The two contracting parties, the feudal lord or abbot and the crown, shared taxes collected from the population (see below). Then we wonder why communism appeared. A remedy a thousand times worse than the disease.

The Bastide Clairence (in Basque: Bastida; in Gascon: La Bastida de Clarença) is a town and French commune located in the department of Pyrenees Atlantiques in the Aquitaine region. Ranked as one of "Les plus beaux villages de France", this bastide Navarre is located in the traditional Basque province of Lower Navarre. Its gentilic is bastidot in Gascon and bastidar in Euskara.

This fortified Navarre was founded in 1288 by Claire Rabastens on a hillside on the shores of the Aran River, hence its name Gascon, Clarença Bastida. By a letter in July, 1312, on behalf of Louis I of Navarre, the future Louis X, le Hutin, 800 refugees coming mainly from Bigorre were granted a place to live there. The birth of this town responds to the need of Navarra to create a fortress-city in the wooded border. The Bastide-Clairence, as the name suggests, is a city-fortress. Historian Paul Broca discovered there the remains of its ancient and mighty fortress in 1875. The Bastide-Clairence was slowly receiving people coming from the southwestern of France. Later, will host Spanish refugees fleeing the Inquisition (see below), and Basque from cities and towns around. There is another version of the origin of the city, claiming it would have been populated by descendants settlers from various places, and especially for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, called the Franks.

By 1700, the population was 2,000 with people living from small nail factories, clothing wool, knitting and agriculture. 12-day trade-shows ensure the prosperity of the city. While in the sixteenth century inhabitants did not speak Basque but Gascon, the Basque language and customs were gradually adopted. By the seventeenth century there were 320 houses and mills. Also there was a large Jewish community, after the expulsion of the Portuguese Jews.

This immigration, often called "Portuguese", was represented by 70 to 80 families in the seventeenth century. They lived there in a relatively autonomous community designated by the expression "Jewish Nation". They had its own cemetery other than the Christian cemetery, which opened in the early seventeenth century. The inscriptions on the tombs, 62 in total, were studied by Professor Gérard Nahon. The oldest grave dates from 1620, the most recent from 1785. Date of death is expressed in Hebrew calendar. All names are biblical like Jacob, Isaac, Benjamin, Esther, Sarah, Rebecca, etc. Surnames were in Portuguese and Spanish like Dacosta, Henriquez, Lopez Nunez, Depas, Alvares, etc. The number of Israelites fell markedly in the mid-eighteenth century, when not counted more than fifteen Jewish families. They became only six in 1798. The cemetery belongs to the Israelite Consistory of Bayonne.

Well, time to go? Easy. Take a train from Paris (Gare Paris Montparnasse, 17, Boulevard de Vaugirard, Paris 15, Metro Lines 4, 6, 12 and 13) to Bayonne. Here the timetable. Being in Bayonne you have two options. By bus search here for the Ligne 812. Select the bus line 812 in section "Vos fiches horaires" and download a PDF file with all the information. Just 2 euros, cheap. Or book a taxi. Trip is 26 km, 33 min in taxi and 57 min in bus. We are here in La Bastide Clairence. Time to go around. Wao, the market is beautiful. It's in the market where you feel the soul of the people.

For a place to stay do not forget to book in advance. It's very important and never I will be tired to insist on this. Hotels and places to stay are very requested. Here at you will find many options in or close to La Bastide Clairence. Select what you like and do not hesitate to book. If something goes wrong you will have plenty of time to cancel your reservation without paying a cent. You can also have a look to Trip Advisor that always has very good recommendations. It's a must to visit the Tourist Office. They always will have the most trusted and updated info about La Bastide Clairence. And the site is beautiful and really well done.

Let's have now an inventory of places to visit.

La Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption by Havang(nl)

This building dates from the date of the founding of the town and was the first building in stone. Consecrated in 1315 by the Bishop of Pamplona. In its porch the coat of arms of Navarre, only survivor of the original construction of the fourteenth century. In the cloisters the cemetery of the oldest families of the town is still preserved. In these cloisters were realized the famous conventions called "Capitularies", were representatives of the 400 houses in the parish met, deliberate and voted on all matters of interest to the community. I really enjoyed this. Democracy was running.

La Bastide Clairence's Jewish cemetery by

This photo is beautiful. Taken from the Jewish cemetery in the background the church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption. Two religions sharing the same land without fighting like savages. When will we learn, my God. When will we learn that all of us fit on earth.

In the early seventeenth century, were expelled from Spain and Portugal, Sephardic Jews by the Inquisition. They arrived at Bayonne, enjoying the protection of the Duke of Gramont. They settled in the cities of Peyrehorade, Bidache and La Bastide. To dwell were required, pledged and did, provide a pharmacy and a medical for the community that lack these. And they did and it worked. Why not? They had its own synagogue and cemetery, which is now owned by the Israelite Consistory of Bayonne. The community was drastically reduced in the eighteenth century and disappeared during the French Revolution due to the economic decline of the city. All revolutions specialize in destroying the economy, if it's know very well by the writer.

If you like tennis you can try to play racquetball (trinquet or jeu de paume in French), cousin of tennis. There is a court called Trinquet Hapette at Rue Notre Dame, 64240, La Bastide-Clairence.

Formerly, the laundry room was the place, inside or outside the home, where the clothes were washed, usually by hand on a table or flat stone that also received this name. Until the introduction of running water in the houses was common to find buildings in towns and cities where women went to do laundry. They were meeting places and transmission of information of everyday life. Have a look to the "lavoir" (public laundry place) in La Bastide Clairence.

Lavoir de La Bastide Clairence by Lavoirs de France

If you like art work, handmade, the opposite of the work done in batches by Chinese industry then I recommend you to visit d'Artistes et d'Artisans d'art de La Bastide Clairence. Have a walk on the village and explore its many artisans (ceramics, textiles, perfumes, blacksmithing, etc.), almost fifteen workshops are present.

Photo by ARKUA collectif d'Artistes et d'Artisans d'art de La Bastide Clairence

You can also visit l'Abbaye Notre Dame de Belloc, founded in 1875 by diocesan missionaries. The location and building are really beautiful.

Les grottes d'Isturitz et d'Oxocelhaya are a series of natural caves with prehistoric settlement and are part of the network of caves with the chain of the Pyrenees-Cantabrian and are classified as historical monuments since 1953.

Photo by Krijun.

Le Château de Guiche belonged to the Duke of Gramont, same noble that protected the jews fleeing persecution of the Portuguese and Spanish of the Inquisition.

Le Château de Guiche des Ducs de Gramont by Dvillafruela

Well my friends, that's all for today. But have before a complete list of the best restaurants in La Bastide Clairence according to Trip Advisor. Enjoy your meal. Au revoir!

La Bastide Clairence

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