Sare is a village of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, in region New-Aquitaine.
In the heart of the Basque country, the village is backed by the Pyrenees mountains: with an area of some 50 km², the commune shares 25 km of border with Spain, where it is half landlocked. Higher peaks at more than 800 meters, as against 25 for the lowest.
As for the sea (the Atlantic Ocean), it is only about fifteen kilometers (Saint-Jean de Luz).
A member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, Sare has a little more than 2500 inhabitants and its activity has long been linked to pastoral agriculture (breeding on mountain pastures). A mine was also exploited since the Middle Ages because of the geological character of the subsoil, where caves were uncovered.
More recently, a wool processing unit has been implanted.
However, if the past was sometimes tragic (deportation of inhabitants under the Revolution suspected of maintaining links with the frontier Navarrese and then enemy breakthrough led by the English during the Spanish War of Independence), Sare is now a locality prized for Its natural and built heritage, which makes it a tourist stop of choice.
Outside the village that Napoleon III and Edouard VII liked to frequent and that the novelist Pierre Loti took as his model in "Ramuntcho", a discovery of the mountains that dominate it imposes itself. You can start by the Rhune, which culminates at 905 m, and which offers a remarkable panorama on the coasts. On foot, it takes at least two hours...
Less elevated, the pass of Lizarrieta (441 m) is famous for its fauna (goshawk) and its forest (oaks). Avoid during hunting (October and November).
Finally, the site of Lezeko Gaina, refuge of many protected species, alternates crests and valleys.
This mountain set is obviously conducive to hiking (on foot, horseback or even mountain biking), and many itineraries have been laid out. All information is available at +33 5 59 54 20 14.
But it is also possible to borrow the Rhune train (whose wagons date back to the 1920s), a railway museum as such, which climbs the mountain in 35 minutes and which allows to enjoy splendid views of the valley, The sea or the wild ponies and vultures... A must! Rate round trip: 18,50 euros per adult, 11,50 for the 8-12 years old. Works from March to early November. Information on +33 5 59 54 20 26.
In the village, where some houses date from the 15th century, in addition to the numerous bridges, washhouses and oratories, one will linger at the Saint-Martin church, enlarged and enhanced in the 17th century, with a five-story tower. Inside, three floors of carved oak galleries and their turned wooden balusters retain attention. The bell tower, destroyed by a fire, was recently rebuilt and can be visited every Monday in the summer at 11 am. A history of the village is proposed on this occasion.
Away from the town, the Sainte-Catherine chapel was rebuilt in the 17th century on the basis of an older building (15th century). It also has wooden floors. It is open only for the Feast of St. Catherine in late November.
Besides the pediment near the church, several times restored, which allows the practice of the Basque pelota, a visit of the village is also the opportunity to admire many lintels carved on the facades (including the engraved date of the construction of The private dwelling or the building).
Note also that a detailed guided tour of the village is possible, with the program evoking the smuggling traffic of yesteryear and the visit of the farm to the frescoes, decorated in 1936 by refugees fleeing the Francoism.
The Ortillopitz house, a typical 17th century Basque dwelling, and the prehistoric caves (except in January) with paths in the form of sound and light, evoking the human evolution from the site adjacent to the site prehistory. Information on +33 5 59 54 20 14.
In different registers, the animal park Etxola (buffalos, dromedaries, llamas... which can be approached as a family), open from 1 April to 31 October (prices: 5 euros and 4 euros for children) Museum of the Basque cake (which offers workshops and pastry courses) are also interesting.
A swimming pool, tennis courts, an equestrian center are at the disposal of the tourists. Information on +33 5 59 54 20 14.
In August, over five days (around the Assumption, August 15th), the Sare festivals offer traditional concerts and animations (Basque pelota, folk parades, but also the Ahate Jokoa ritual, during which riders Duck on a hanging duck...).
In April, Sare hosts a festival of writers from the Basque Country.
Finally, in this rich land, gourmets and gourmands will not miss the market of producers which takes place on Fridays from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm from May to October and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm from November to April. Sheep cheese, goat cheese, yogurts, vegetables, salted meats, pork, veal, beef, lamb, Espelette chili, jams... In summer, local artisans also offer their produce.