Road to Ossès
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||Martin Elgue|
|Area1||42 km2 (16 sq mi)|
|• Density||19/km2 (50/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||64436 / 64780|
|Elevation||101–892 m (331–2,927 ft)
(avg. 282 m or 925 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Ossès is located 13 kilometres (8 mi) north-west of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is surrounded by low hills in the Ossès valley, a part of the valley of the river Nive, home of the pottok, the wild Basque horse. The surrounding countryside is considered very beautiful, with several trails, long-distance walks and picnic sites. The air was described as coming 'straight from heaven' by a local poet.
The village was under the authority of the Dukes of Gascogne, then of Aquitaine, but was passed to the Kingdom of Navarre with the marriage of Princess Berengaria of Navarre, daughter of King Sancho the Wise, to Richard the Lionheart in 1191.
The village has a splendid sixteenth century church, St-Julien, with a unique heptagonal tower, a famous altarpiece and a pelota fronton forming one of its walls. The graveyard has a small number of stone Basque crosses. There are several traditional Basque houses around the square, characterised by their pink sandstone lintels and half-timbers, including the 1628 Maison Sastriarena, where the Bishops of Bayonne were entertained, and the Maison Harizmendi, where the prelate who married Louis XIV and Maria Theresa stayed in 1660 on his way to the wedding party. The old laundry building has also been preserved.
Ossès-Saint-Martin-d'Arrossa is a railway station on the railway line between Bayonne and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port with several services each day. It is 1 km (0.62 mi) from the village. A bus to Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry connects with the rail service.
The village festival is on the last Sunday in August.
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