A brief history

LAHET family

"There is a name which deserves a special mention in this exceptional setting: the LAHET family. This ancient noble Navarrese family, known since the early 12th century and which took part in the fourth crusade along with Louis IX and Thibaut de Champagne, settled in Sare. It is believed that this family aligned itself with Lord Garcie Arnaud d'Espelette, who built the "Harismendia" fortress in 1289."



The village

"Opposite the town-hall is the fronton or pelota court, a true "outdoor temple", and an intrinsic part of the Basque microcosm. Leading to this square are roads lined with hundred year old plane trees connecting countless half-timbered farmhouses, grouped together in around ten hamlets, such as Ihalar with its late 16th and early 17th century houses, and the Chapel of Saint Catherine, founded in 1481, as well as Lehenbiscay, remarkable for its homesteads with their typical porches and a series of oratories, scattered across the countryside.

This landscape is dominated by the rocky mass of La Rhune, the mythical Basque mountain, which is home to both vultures and "pottoks" (a local breed of small wild ponies).

A document dating back to 1505 lists 81 ancient houses."


The monarchy

"Under the monarchy the tiny "Republic" of Sare was almost independent, but in 1793-1794, having remained loyal to the church, things took a turn for the worse: its entire population was deported and the village was renamed La Palomière. In 1794, during the Western Pyrenees campaign, La Tour d'Auvergne, France’s top grenadier, became famous in Sare on the hill of Sainte Barbe.

This was then followed in 1813 by the joint English-Spanish-Portuguese invasion. The second half of the 19th century witnessed the withdrawal of the defeated Carlist troops."


The second empire

"During the second Empire, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie often visited the caves in Sare and went on excursions to La Rhune. This was the time when Biarritz's most eminent figures came to taste the authenticity of a Basque village and its legendary festivities: princes to the Russian Court; Edward VII, King of England; Queen Nathalie of Serbia. A number of great thinkers and philologists, such as W. Webster, Karl Bouda and H. Schuchard, also stayed in the home town of the famous Basque poet JB Elissamburu.

After WW2:

There were many prestigious visitors: Ho Chi-Minh; Aki Ito, at that time crown prince of Japan; Orson Wells; Winston Churchill; General De Gaulle; Field Marshal Montgomery ..."


The facéries table

"Today rural life continues to survive and the community is still governed by legal agreements known as facéries. Close to the boundary stone (R36) on the Lizuniaga mountain pass (220 rn) is a place known as "Lizuniako-Mugarria", where the stone table which may well be a menhir, which has either fallen or was knocked over.

Very often the border follows this type of monolith dating back to prehistory. International treaties have wisely respected a certain number of these markers where prehistoric man had placed a physical sign. The facéries between Sare and its Navarrese neighbours referred to this table and continue to do so today."



"There are numerous remains of the Western Pyrenees Campaign (1794) and the Napoleonic Wars in the form of redoubts built by Field Marshal Soult’s army. This line of defence was overwhelmed on 10 November 1813 by Wellington’s joint English, Spanish and Portuguese troops. The most important work is located at the place known as Aira-Harri (550 m) and 600 m to the north-east of the stopping place known as Three-Fountains on the cog-wheel railway up La Rhune. Known as the Mouiz Redoubt (Koralhandia), it is a 6-point star shape and built with sandstone slabs. It is 2 metres high, 80 cm thick and covers 1 040 m.

Other works which remain to a greater or lesser extent in tact: La Rhune Hermitage Redoubt, Ermitebaïta, Mendibidea, Louis XIV Redoubt at Olhain Chapel, Argaïneko fortified summit, redoubts at border marker 29, Sainte-Barbe, Suhalmendi, Granada, Muno-Handia and Idoyko-Bizkarra."