Culture and traditions Basque Country and Béarn

Culture and traditions Basque Country and Béarn

The paths of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Classified in European cultural routes by the Council of Europe in 1987 and listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, the roads to Compostela were already trodden by many pilgrims in the year 1000.
Today, there are nearly 500 each year. In the Basque Country, the Camino has been a living reality for 10 centuries and little known to travelers.


The pèJacques the opportunity for a long pedestrian and cultural hike, combining physical effort with the discovery of Romanesque art and the sumptuous landscapes of the Navarre plateaus.

  • More info on the ways of Compostela

Music, dances and songs

The Basques have a great sense of music and love to sing. However, paradoxically, you will have little opportunity to hear them. It is above all during local festivals and villages that it happens. With a little luck, you will come across an evening or a musical and dance show organized for the occasion.

One way to hear the Basques sing is to attend God (Phesta-Berri) in Hélette and in Arberoue at the end of May, beginning of June. We sing loudly.

Traditional instruments

First there is the tambourine, what the romantics wrongly called the "Basque drum", which is common to all of Spain.

There is also the txistu, sort of flutxun.

There is finally the gaita, a small double-reed oboe whose sound is reminiscent of an Arab bagpipe or flute (moreover, it is probably an instrument of Arab origin).

Choral singing

More than a tradition, it is a passion. The male choirs are legion. The smallest formation is a choir of 8 men, but it is not uncommon to meet choirs of 50 or 80 men. Basque song is still a polyphony. There are some mixed choirs, especially for the interpretation of religious music.

Modern music

Several trends among young Basque singers.

- singers to sensitized. They are melodists who pay great attention to the lyrics. Their concerts attract a huge audience, and their positions are always eagerly awaited and followed. Their audience goes beyond the Basque Country.

The Basque language lends itself well to rock. The harsh tones stick to the rhythm and the music, and the groups are numerous with a loyal following.

La folk trend exists in all possible forms, from electrified adaptations of Basque classics to the simple use of the language on foreign musical themes.

Dances and traditions

The Basque dances are innumerable and the costumes often exceptional. Above all, they are still widely practiced, and not just by professional groups. In many holidays, we meet to dance, and no matter whether we are a novice or a specialist, just follow the movement. Some dances, on the other hand, require training and experience.

So on special occasions you can see dancing the auresku or honor jump. Hieratic, dressed in white and red, armed with 2 daggers, a young dancer performs some jumps and not coded in front of a personality to celebrate.

The bertsularis

You will see rebascophone, it is completely hermetic.

Religions, festivals and beliefs

You are God. Masses are a highlight in the life of the community and they are usually said in Basque.

The Basque clergy is an active clergy, even activist. It was Catholic Action which was the basis for the creation of peasant unionism. The anti-capitalist aim was strong, the Basque peasants being strongly involved in the anti-globalization.

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