||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (December 2008)|
|Intercommunality||Pays de Bidache|
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||André Lassalle|
|• Land1||13 km2 (5 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||43/km2 (110/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||64502 / 64520|
|Elevation||0–58 m (0–190 ft)
(avg. 42 m or 138 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.
- 1 Geolocation and geography
- 2 Demography
- 3 Economic life
- 4 History
- 5 Patrimoine, culture et associations
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
Geolocation and geography
Sames lies in the valley of the Adour river, the only significant river going to the Gulf of Gascony (otherwise known as Bay of Biscay, from the Basque province Biscaya) other than the Garonne river in the whole of France’s vast southern province called Aquitaine (Aquitania, the old roman province, that later was called Novempopulania, spread all the way from the Garonne river to the Pyrenees and was populated by Basque-related people from time immemorial). While the Garonne river picks up the longest trail of its waters from middle-eastern Pyrenees till Toulouse, most of its waters actually come from its west bank and the old cambrian mountains of Massif Central, whereas the waters from all the central and western part of the Pyrenees flow down into the Adour (that kept a very ancient bask name, “Atur” or "Aturri"). Sames lies at the precise point where most of the waters converge at the very feet of the northernmost mountainous rises of the Pyrenees to build the powerful Adour, a river over 300m wide, 6 m deep, and swept by tides of 2m up to Sames (and a bit beyond) that from there strikes straight westward to the Atlantic Ocean:
- the so-called gaves (mountain river) of Pau, issued from the valleys down from the Vignemale mountain range, and generally all of eastern Bearn, and the Gave d'Oloron, draining waters from the western part of Bearn (Aspe, Ossau), the eastern part of the Bask province called Lower-Navarre, and that of Soule (basque, Zuberoa or Xiberoa)
- the Bidouze (probably related to basque bidasoa, river), as such the strongest river itself in the whole of the French Basque country resulting from a number of gaves a few miles upstream, and that originates from the Pyrenean heartland of Lower-Navarre, close to the Spanish border.
Sames is hence a place where the last hills of the Pyrenees splash their feet down into a powerful flow of waters flushed up and down twice daily by the tides
The Sames area is hence constituted of three zones - at the western and northern sides, a large area of flat lowlands encompassed between the Adour, the Gaves, and the Bidouze; such grounds are locally designated as "barthes" - at the southern side, the valley of the Bidouze which is there a lazy powerful stream - wedged in-between, an outcrop of the Pyrenees that raises steeply into a hill range raising some 60m over the plain, that blocks the Bidouze river on the northern and eastern side for miles.
North of Sames lies the hilly country of southern Landes, a zone built from derelict rocks and soil abandoned by glaciers over the past 20 million years. West of Sames opens the wide Adour valley down to the sea, distant by about 35 km. South of Sames raise continuously the lower mountains of the Pyrenees (150m altitude just across the river, going to 600m at about 15 km then 900m at about 20 km)
Settlements and neighbourhoods
Settlements in the commune are organized under several neighbourhoods, each with its own personnality, partly shaped by history; locally are thus distinguished :
- "le Bourg",a small borough uphill, consisting in a cluster of homes around a medieval church; some traces of occupation dating back to the 3rd century AD have been found there
- "quartier Saint Jean", an ancient settlement dating back at least to the late Middle Ages, that grew around a stay belonging to the Order of Malte established around 1445, with a kind of hospital and rooms for travellers to and from Spain; this settlement, known as Saint Jean d'Etchart, was until the late 18th century organized as a small self-supporting hamlet, and had its own church and graveyard; both hostel and chapel have been erased (the latter with only some foundations left now drowned in the rectified riverside), and a couple of old farm buildings probably dating back to that period;
- Vic Neuf ("Vic Nau"), a rural zone with dispersed homesteads sloping down from the Bourg to the riverside of Bidouze ;
- Vic de Lalande, a rolling upland spreading behind the Bourg towards the neighbouring communes of Hastingues et Bidache, originally farmland with few farms, but now sprouting with new homes ;
- the « Îles », a sparse thread of farms along the banks of the gaves and Adour, deriving its name from small river islets that used to stand there in the 16th century and have now disappeared (some comparable islets still exist further downstream at Lahonce and Sainte-Marie-de-Gosse);
- "Moura", a recent real-estate zone that is developing around an artificial lake created in the early 1990s at the occasion of the huge civil works for the nearby highway linking Toulouse to Bayonne
Local economics are based on agriculture, foremost maize (corn), kiwi vines both the green and yellow types, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, vegetable growing.
Local craftmanship trade in blades and knives of typical regional pyrenean style, so called "two nails pyrenean knives" by "Lames de Sames", an artisanal workshop founded by designer and craftsman Christophe Lauduique with a sales shop at the nearby sea resort of Anglet. An artisanal wood furniture company.
- Settlement and grounds occupation history
Some elements (a wall holding in a recess a set of 3rd century Roman empire bronze coins) indicate that some settlement, probably of agricultural type, existed at the hill top site of "Le Bourg" at that period.The current village church portal, of a simple roman type which was all a very rural parish could afford, has been dated back to the early 14th century.The very first documents mentioning the village, under a name form identical to today's, date back to 1255; several minor mentions appear at diverse occasions throughout the 13th and 14th centuries.
The main events of the village relate to the Order of Malte, through the addition, around 1445, on the bank of the Bidouze, of a secondary hostel and hospital that supplemented the facilities they held in the nearby city and active port of Bayonne; the place they obtained probably for free from the Earl of Gramont (the local notability whose main hold was nearby Bidache) was probably hardly occupied at all, and they gave it its name, St Jean (Saint John) being the patron of their Order, whereas the parish was consecrated to the Virgin Mary; that neighbourhood was henceforward known as "Saint Jean d'Etchart" until the Order relinquished the place in late 18th century, "Etchart" being an add-on epithet of probable local basque origin (a swampish area close to is still known as "Etchouette"); the Order established there a chapel, which served as secondary church for the people in the neighbouhood and they long sustained their right for burial there (until a royal decree in 1668 forbade it); several buildings still stand from that period with dates starting from the early 1600s
- La maison dite Dufrene du lieu-dit Saint-Jean date de 1608.
- Batiment  de 1706 au quartier Saint-Jean
In the rest of the commune, some farmsteads were run, and a few still are extant
- Ferme de 1631 au lieu-dit Laborde de Garat
In the late XVIIIth and first half of the 19th century years, a few wealthy bourgeois established mansions in the village, three at the hill top (the first around 1775, the other two, more lavish and gifted with large surroundings parks and gardens, around 1850), and one on the site of the old Order of Malte establishment (1807).
- Lordship and dominion over Sames through the centuries
While Sames per se held no strategic interest whatsoever,being devoid of any military stronghold, the area at large itself was in permanent turmoil due to local rivalry between huge powers-that-be lording over Aquitaine and northern Spain, that surprisingly have made some of the most renowned personalities in western Europe involved with the sovereignty of those otherwise insignificant grounds over four centuries.
The area was until the late 12th century a part of the overall province of Labourd, lorded from Bayonne, and included into the dukedom of Aquitaine and hence the realm of France, which was simple enough; the local power entities were an abbay on the other side of the hills, the abbay of Arthous (see the web site of this 11th century abbay ), 2 km away, serving as stage place for pilgrims to Compostella, and founded in 1160 (the church was consecrated in 1167), and the lords of Guiche, 1.5 km away across the Bidouze river.
However, in 1193, Richard the Ist so called the Lionheart of England, also duke of Aquitaine and as such a vassal to the King of France, agreed, for some unknown strategy and as an aftermath of his marriage with Berengaria of Navarre, to relinquish the sovereignty of a strip of land that lay next to the Earldom of Bearn from the Pyrenees down to the Adour to his father-in-law, Sanche of Navarre, who was lording over northern Spain; this strip was carved out of the province of Labourd, was integrated in the kingdom of Navarre under the name of Lower Navarre (Basse-Navarre, Neferroa Beheroa), and thus evaded from the realm of France for the next four centuries.
Sames, which was hemmed in at the tip of the three wide rivers, remained under the realm of France, but found itself in "political isolation", its only ground route being north and east cut off by villages (Oeyregave) under sway of the Earl of Orthe (who bestraddled Bearn and the province of Lannes, now Landes, north of Adour and the Gaves) with a fortress at Peyrehorade, from the rest of the Labourd province by the Bidouze river on the other bank of which was set a ring of villages part of Navarre (all its south-western neighbours starting from Bidache, where a new fortress was established in 1325 by the Earls of Gramont ), or still in France but belonging to the House of Albret-Navarre (Guiche, due south, with a very strong fortress dating back to the 11th century), while the Dukes of Aquitaine, who controlled Bayonne, the only port between Spain and Bordeaux, established a stronghold on the hilltop of Hastingues half a mile away in 1289 under an agreement with the abbey of Arthous (which sought protection from the Earls of Orthe).
Last Sames was owned at that period by a family settled in nearby Bearn, but without any ground connection (they owned the village of Came 10 km away); however the role of the Order of Malta established at Saint Jean d'Etchart starting from 1445 and linked with Bayonne was probably paramount.
The jurisdictional, police, and fiscal situation of the commune was henced very blurred until two decisive steps were taken in the second half of the 16th century
a) from a local Lordship point of view, Sames was integrated with the neighbouring villages at the south into a new Earldom, the Earldom of Guiche (1563), created by Charles IX King of France on behalf of the Gramont family (who was also possessed in the kingdom of Navarre...), and was hence clearly reinstated into the Labourd province
b) in 1589, Henri of Navarre became Henri IV, King of France, thus ending the four centuries recess of Lower Navarre from the realm of France
In 1790, when the territorial divisions of France were reorganized by the Revolution, Sames was linked to its Labourd and Lower Navarre neighbours into the Department of Basses-Pyrénées.
Hence are come the still extant uncertainties as to where Sames belongs; its three close neighbours all belong to different "provinces": Bidache, to Lower Navarre,(theoretically historically steered from Saint Jean Pied de Port, but in practice steered by itself as a self-proclaimed "free town"), Hastingues, to the province of Lannes (Landes) (historically steered from Dax), Guiche, to Labour (historically steered from Bayonne).
In conclusion, although actual daily links were probably quite slack, and in relation to the local importance of the Order of Malte based in Bayonne, it is more consistent to include Sames in the province of Labourd (Lapurdi), which is what Atlas Turistico Euskal Herria does (although in a somewhat isolated way, most ill-informed sources still list Sames in Lower Navarre).
Patrimoine, culture et associations
- Le château Poulit date du XIXe siècle ;
- Ferme de 1631 au lieu-dit Laborde de Garat
- Batiment  de 1706 au quartier Saint-Jean
- La maison dite Dufrene du lieu-dit Saint-Jean date de 1608.
- Maisons de maître des XVIIe, XVIIIe et XIXe siècles.
L'église de l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie date en partie du XIVe siècle. Elle recèle un ensemble de deux autels secondaires du XIXe siècle, une Vierge à l'Enfant sculptée et du mobilier inventorié par le ministère de la Culture.
Patrimoine linguistique gascon
Olden names of homesteads and farms in Sames
Homesteads since beyond memory have always been gifted with names that actually supersede the names of their actual inhabitants in the local habit; those names have changed through the centuries and reflect the local churning between basque and occitan influences and their evolution over time.
- quartier Saint Jean
Haritsmendi or Harismendi, nowadays « Hourdillé », basque haritz (oak) mendi (mountain); Suhas Neuf and Suhas Vieux, of old (18th century) Suhast, basque Zohasti, a small hamlet in the vicinity of Saint-Palais, ; Berdoye,?, nowadays « Dufrene » from the family that owned it in the middle XVIIeme siècle; Pé de Puyo : from the family that owned it in the middle XVIème siècle, "pujo" exists in basque as well as occitan, with the same meaning (mound), mayve a family originating from Puyoo a small township 20 km away? Pédepujo is a typical patronym form in pays d'Orthe (Péducasse, Pécastaings...); Nougué, of old (18th century) Noguer, maybe occitan nogué (walnut tree) or maybe basque Nugerre similar to Mugerre (close to Bayonne); Lagraulet, occitan agraule, crow ou raven; Dachary; Pitoun; Jouanine; Dallemane ou Lamane; Camou Bas, basque Gamoue (today Camou), a hamlet neighbour to Suhast/Zohasti in the vicinity of Saint-Palais, or (unlikely) occitan camou, fertile ground; Saint Jean Bas; Artiguenave, occitan artiga, meadow, here newly opened meadow,; Hanare; Darnauticon; Lacoudelle; Hayet, a typically local patronym, not clearly defined as basque or occitan, see the Lailhet settlement in Guiche- maybe occitan "alhede", ground infested with wild garlic-a catastrophy for the taste of milk when grazed by cows..., or maybe basque haits, rock or also some type of oak?; Claverie; Le Moura, occitan, moura, mouras, mourac, swampish zone; Souyès, maybe basque Zuhaitz, tree ou Zuhaizti, grove?;
Culture and fine arts
Since 2006, Sames is the seat (at "quartier Saint-Jean") of an association dedicated to the promotion locally of lyric arts; this association is especially intend on providing shows of classical comedy operas to the inhabitants of the village and surrounding ones
- "couteau-paysbasque.com". couteau-paysbasque.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Capitulaire de l'Evêché de Bayonne or "Livre d'Or de Bayonne", 1255
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Mérimée - Notice sur la maison Dufrene de 1608". Culture.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Mérimée - Notice sur le bâtiment de 1706". Culture.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- link valid@ November 4th, 2011
- Edizioak, Sua (2008). Of the index. p. 20. ISBN 978-84-8216-292-8.
- Notice sur le château Poulit
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Mérimée - Notices sur les maisons de maître de Sames". Culture.gouv.fr. 2001-04-19. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Mérimée - Notice sur l'église de l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie". Culture.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Palissy - Notice sur les deux autels de l'église de l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie". Culture.gouv.fr. 2001-04-24. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Palissy - Notice sur la Vierge à l'Enfant de l'église de l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie". Culture.gouv.fr. 2001-04-24. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Ministère de la Culture, base Palissy - Notice sur le mobilier de l'église de l'Assomption-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie". Culture.gouv.fr. 2001-04-24. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "cantere-lirica.com". cantere-lirica.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sames.|
- INSEE commune file
- SAMATZE in the Bernardo Estornés Lasa - Auñamendi Encyclopedia (Euskomedia Fundazioa) (in Spanish)