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.

Ahetze was a village in the traditional Basque province of Labourd and is now a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwestern France.

The inhabitants of the commune are known as Aheztars.[1]



The commune is located some 13 km southwest of Bayonne and 30 km northeast of Donostia-San-Sebastion and only 4 km from the Atlantic beaches of Bidart and Guéthary.


Ahetze village is at the intersection of departmental roads D655 from Arbonne to Bidart and D855 from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The commune can be accessed from Exit 4 (Biarritz La Négresse) and Exit 3 (Saint-Jean-de-Luz nord) from the A63 autoroute.

The Biarritz–Anglet–Bayonne Airport is 15-minute drive from the village.


Located in the watershed of the Adour, the commune is traversed[2] by a tributary of the coastal river Uhabia: the Zirikolatzeko erreka and its tributaries, the streams: Amisolako, Uroneko, and Besaingo, as well as the Pemartiko erreka, a tributary of the Besaingo.

Paul Raymond also stated in his Topographical dictionary of Bearn-Basque Country in 1863[3] that a tributary of the Alborga: the Haïstéchéhé flows through Ahetze after rising in Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle.

Localities and hamlets[4]

  • Adamenea
  • Aguerria
  • Amizola[3]
  • Arrakotenea
  • Belhardiko Errota
  • Biperenborda
  • Borda
  • Dorrea
  • Etxebiaga
  • Haroztegia
  • Harrieta
  • Ithurbidea
  • Ithurbidenborda
  • Laharraga
  • Larramendia
  • Larreluzea
  • Larretxeberria
  • Larrunta or Larruntaldea[3]
  • Martikotenea
  • Mulienea
  • Olhagaina
  • Ostaleriaborda
  • Solorzano
  • Uhartea
  • Xaharrenea
  • Ximikoenea
  • Xirrikenea


The commune name in Basque is also Ahetze.

Jean-Baptiste Orpustan suggested that Ahetze comes from aiz meaning "stone" and by extension "high rock".[5]

The following table details the origins of the commune name and other names in the commune.

Name Spelling Date Source Page Origin Description
Ahetze Ahece 1083 Orpustan Village
Ahese 1170 Orpustan
Aheze 1170 Orpustan
de Hetsa 1249 Orpustan
Villa quœ dicitur Ahece 12th century Raymond
Aheze 13th century Raymond
Ahetce 1302 Raymond
Ahetze 19th century Lhande
Amisolako erreka Amisola 1863 Raymond
Larrustaldéa Larungoriz 13th century Raymond
Bayonne Village
Ouhas-Aldéa Ouhas-Aldéa 1863 Raymond


  • Orpustan: Jean-Baptiste Orpustan, New Basque Toponymy[5]
  • Raymond: Topographic Dictionary of the Department of Basses-Pyrenees, 1863, on the page numbers indicated in the table. (in French)[3]
  • Lhande: Pierre Lhande, Basque-French Dictionary 1926


According to Eugène Goyheneche:[8] "two houses (…) had medieval names of Akarreta and Haranbillaga".


In the Middle Ages the Compostela pilgrims who chose the passage along the Atlantic coast passed near Ahetze, Ibarron and the hospital (Ospitale Zaharra) in Sare. Others preferred to fork through part of Ahetze to reach the chapel Saint-Jacques of Serres and also visit Vera by passing by Olhette and the Ibardin Pass.[9]


Arms of Ahetze

Party per pale, one of Or a lion rampant of gules supporting a processional cross with six small bells all sable; two azure a pilgrim's stick of Or surmounted by two escallops the same..[10]


The Town Hall and the fronton

List of Successive Mayors of Ahetze[11]

From To Name Party Position
1957 1971 Élie Charles Philippe Marie d'Elbée
1995 2008 Pierre Cocagne
2008 2011 Jean d'Elbée[12][13] Oceanographer & Biologist
2011 2020 Philippe Élissalde School Teacher, Director

(Not all data is known)


Ahetze is a member of 8 Intercommunal organisations:

  • the Agglomeration of 'Sud Pays Basque
  • the union of Ouhabia
  • the intercommunal association of secondary schools of Saint-Jean-de-Luz
  • the intercommunal association Nive-Nivelle
  • the mixed association of Bizi Garbia
  • the association to support Basque culture
  • the joint association for drinking water from the Ura
  • the joint sanitation association of the Ura

The commune is a member of the Basque Eurocity Bayonne - San Sebastian.


In 2009 the commune had 1,697 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known through the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger towns that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]

Population change (See database)
1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
415 418 433 511 524 608 579 577 644
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
620 605 595 567 553 543 540 529 533
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
550 523 537 485 456 507 459 428 460
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2009 -
479 484 567 869 1,069 1,318 1,452 1,697 -

Sources : Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1962, INSEE database from 1968 (population without double counting and municipal population from 2006)

Population of Ahetze

The commune is part of the urban area of Bayonne.


The 2006 classification by INSEE indicated the median household incomes for each commune with more than 50 households (30,687 communes out of 36,681 communes identified)[14] classed Ahetze at the rank of 7,693 with an average income of €17,944.

The flea market takes place every third Sunday of the month and regularly attracts lovers of antiques from the Paris region, to the Spanish communes all around and contributes to the economic revitalization of the village which has mainly agricultural activity.

The commune part of the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) zone of Ossau-iraty.

Culture and heritage


The Map of the Seven Basque Provinces established by Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte in 1863 indicated that the Basque dialect spoken in Ahetze is Labourdin.


Established in 1971, the Committee of Festivals of Ahetze (Ahetzeko Mozkor Banda) organises the following events: wheat threshing, dance evenings, a gala of Basque rural sports, loto, and employers' festivals that take place between 25 October and 11 November.

Civil heritage

  • The Ostalapia farm, now a restaurant, is a former way station on the road to Saint Jacques de Compostela and long before was a haven for the Guethariars and Bidartars when they were attacked by pirates from the ocean or by robbers. There are some boulders once used for walls in the parking area.
  • Some old Baserri dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, some of which have been extended over time. New construction follows the Labourdin style.

Religious heritage

The Church of Saint Martin (16th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg is registered as an historical monument.[16] The church contains a number of items that are registered as historical objects:

    • A Retable and 7 Paintings (1700)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[17]
    • A Processional Cross (15th century).Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[18] This cross, whose arms are garnished with bells, was used in witchcraft trials in the year 1609 to the outrage of Councilor Lancre[19] who saw it as an evil object. The carvings on the Cross represent the faces of Christ, the Virgin, Saint John, a pelican, and two women's heads. On the back of the cross there is the representation of a Bishop, undoubtedly Saint Martin.[8]
    • A Statue: Virgin of the Assumption (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[20]
    • A Statue: Saint Jacques dressed as a pilgrim (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[21]

Eugène Goyheneche[8] noted that the church quite exceptionally possessed a register of Catholics in Basque.

The Church Picture Gallery

Environmental heritage

On the heights of Ahetze all the Basque mountains near the Atlantic are visible: the Rhune, the Mondarrain, the Artzamendi, and the Ursuia in France as well as the Three Crowns in Spain.


Sports and sports facilities

Ahetze has two Frontons, one is old and built into the wall of the town hall, a second was completed in 2008 as part of the new development of the town.

A Trinquet called Pantxoa Sein is next to the primary school.

A marked fitness trail runs through the south-east of the village.


Ahetze has a primary school and a nursery.


Ahetze has several health services: a general practitioner, a dentist, a nurse, a physiotherapist, and a speech therapist.

Notable People linked to the commune

Statue of Mattin Treku (oc), sculpted by Piarres Erdozaintzi[Note 2]

See also



  1. ^ Inhabitants of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (in French)
  2. ^ SANDRE Notice for Ahetze[permanent dead link] (in French)
  3. ^ a b c d Raymond, Paul (1863). Topographic Dictionary of the Department of Basses-Pyrenees (in French). Imprimerie nationale.  (Digitised from Lyon Public Library 15 June 2011)
  4. ^ Géoportail, IGN (in French)
  5. ^ a b Orpustan, Jean-Baptiste (2006). New Basque Toponymy (in French). Presses universitaires de Bordeaux. ISBN 2 86781 396 4. 
  6. ^ Manuscript from the 14th century in the Departmental Archives of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (in French)
  7. ^ Chapter of Bayonne in the Departmental Archives of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (in French)
  8. ^ a b c Eugène Goyheneche, Basque Country: Soule, Labourd, Lower Navarre, Société nouvelle d’éditions régionales et de diffusion, Pau, 1979, BnF FRBNF34647711 (in French)
  9. ^ Philippe Veyrin, The Basques, Arthaud, 1975, ISBN 2 7003 0038 6, page 53. (in French)
  10. ^ Guy Ascarat Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ List of Mayors of France (in French)
  12. ^ At a council meeting on 21 September 2011, Mayor Jean d'Elbée, in response to a blockage of the decision-making process, called for the resignation of the entire council. After two rounds of municipal elections on 20 and 27 November 2011 Philippe Elissalde was elected mayor
  13. ^ "Count rendered by the Municipal Council on 21 September 2011" (PDF) (in French). 
  14. ^ Statistical Summary by commune, department, and employment sector, INSEE, consulted on 9 September 2009 (in French)
  15. ^ Another Hilarri from Ahetze is displayed in the Bayonne Basque History Museum.
  16. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00084305 Church of Saint Martin (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  17. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM64000023 Retable and 7 Paintings (in French)
  18. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM64000022 Processional Cross (in French)
  19. ^ Philippe Veyrin, The Basques, Arthaud, 1975, ISBN 2 7003 0038 6, page 303. (in French)
  20. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM64000731 Statue: Virgin of the Assumption (in French)
  21. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM64000730 Statue: Saint Jacques dressed as a pilgrim (in French)
  22. ^ "Xalbador eta Mattin". YouTube. 
  23. ^ http://www.euskomedia.org/aunamendi/80869
  24. ^ Claude Dendaletche, The Basque Archipelago, Éditions Privat - Cahors, 2005, ISBN 2 7089 5619 1, page 133 (in French)
  25. ^ The results of these studies were published in 1967 (The Basques Natural History, New York, J. Dausset, L. Legrand, M. H. Levine M. H., J. C. Quilice, M. Colombani, J. Ruffié), 1972 (Genetic Structure and Distribution of HL-A Antigens in a Basque village, in "Histocompatibility Testing", Copenhague, J. Ruffie, M. H. Levine, M. Blanc, P. Richard), 1972 (A New lmmunoglobulin haplotype Gm (-1, -17, 21) in a Kurdish isolate and in a French Basque village, M. H. Levine, J. Ruffie, H. Darrasse) and in 1973 (Basque Isolation: I A Hemaypological Survey of Basque Villages)

External links