Banca (Basque: Banka) is a commune of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of south-western France in the former province of Lower Navarre.[1]

Banca is part of Pays Quint (Kintoa in Basque or Quinto Real in Spanish),[2] an area of pasture area which belongs to Spain but is cultivated by French farmers.

The inhabitants of the commune are known as Bankars.[3][4]


Banca is located in the Aldudes valley on the banks of the Nive des Aldudes some 15 km south-west of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The western and eastern borders of the commune are the national frontier between France and Spain. Access to the commune is by the D948 road from Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry in the north which passes through the commune and the village and continues south-west to Aldudes. There are no crossing points in the commune to Spain. The commune is mainly rugged alpine pastures.[5]


The Nive des Aldudes flows from Aldudes in the south-west, gathering tributaries such as the Antchignoko Erreka, the Ruisseau d'Hayra, the Latcharrako Erreka, and the Belechiko Erreka on the northern border, and continues north-east to join the Nive south of Saint-Martin-d'Arrossa. The Ruisseau d'Hayra rises in the south of the commune and flows north gathering tributaries such as the Lehaltzarteko Erreka, the Caminarteko Erreka, and the Legarzuko Erreka to join the Nive des Aldudes near the village.[5]

Places and Hamlets[6]

  • Achistoy
  • Agnesto
  • Amosta
  • Antcharteko Borda
  • Antcheigno
  • Antcholako Etchola
  • Antonénéa
  • Apialépoa
  • Ardaza
  • Argaray
  • Argaray (wood)
  • Arrabit
  • Array
  • Artéko Borda
  • Asundreykoborda
  • Atchaurra
  • Ausquiénéa
  • Barberaénéa
  • Barnetchia
  • Basoritz
  • Beguibelcha
  • Behostemetaka
  • Berginanto
  • Berhain (pass)
  • Betripeillonénéa
  • Betrizina
  • Bichar
  • Bidabéheréa
  • Bihurrieta
  • Bordacharréa
  • Bustanénéa
  • Cardinalia
  • Carminatéko Borda
  • Chabukody Lépoa
  • Champagne
  • Chanchoénéa
  • Changala[7]
  • Chaochako Kaskoa
  • Chasperro
  • Chinta
  • Chiriatéguia
  • Chuhy
  • Churritcheguy
  • Cocagaïchto
  • Colomio
  • Curutcheko Kaskoa
  • Curutchetako Borda
  • Dartépé
  • Dominé
  • Ehuntzaroy (pass, 971m)[8]
  • Elhorrieta (pass, 831m)[8]
  • Elichaldia
  • Erdizako Borda
  • Erreguéréa
  • Errekaénéa
  • Erremerreka
  • Errolako Ithurria
  • Esculeguy
  • Etcheberria
  • Eyhérazaïna
  • Eyhérazaïnako Borda>
  • Fagaldénéa
  • Galant
  • Gathuly Béhéréa[8]
  • Gathulyko Ithurria[8]
  • Gnafarénéa
  • Gnimigno
  • Golko
  • Golomio Ithurria
  • Goroldi
  • Gorria[9]
  • Gosnaisto
  • Guichonaenea[10]
  • Guildeizar
  • Guzmuztiko Borda
  • Halzéta
  • Harguintoa
  • Harrigaitzeko Kaskoa
  • Harrigorri
  • Harzia
  • Hauzay
  • Hayra
  • Hayra (forest)[8]
  • Hayra Sar
  • Hortz Zorrotz (rocks)
  • Ilharragorria
  • Ilharragorrikomalda
  • Indiano
  • Iramebako Borda
  • Iramehaca
  • Irausta
  • Ithurrialde Béhéréa
  • Ithurrialde Garaya
  • Jaureguibeheréa
  • Joanes Ederra
  • Jokutako Lépoa
  • Katchaenéa
  • Labaquia
  • Lechéa
  • Legarzuko Borda
  • Legaza (mill)
  • Lehaltzarte
  • Lekayoénéa
  • Lepeder
  • Lepobelcha
  • Lezetako Lépoa
  • Lindus[8][11]
  • Manechénéa
  • Maneixhandy
  • Marieyhéra
  • Maristola Ithurria
  • Maritcho
  • Marmaroa
  • Martinbelchénéa
  • Matchin Ithurria
  • Meharroztegui (pass, 738m)[8]
  • Mehatzé (pass, 1133m)
  • Menta
  • Minchendo
  • Mizpira (pass, 832m)[8]
  • Mizparachar (pass, 1139m)[8]
  • Moroinborda
  • Mutikoénéa
  • Musquet
  • Ohakoa
  • Olapideko Etchola
  • Olhaberrieta
  • Ondarlako Ithurria
  • Orkastia
  • Otsachar
  • Otsahartéa
  • Otsarrapeguy
  • Otsartéa
  • Oyhançaro
  • Pago Zelhay (pass, 888m)
  • Peilloénéa
  • Peilloeneko Borda
  • Petanénéa
  • Petechaénéa
  • Premonio
  • Tchipitcho Etchola
  • Teylary or Nahala (pass, 932m)
  • Tipitto
  • Todoria
  • Turitchia
  • Uhaillen Borda
  • Uhaldéa
  • Urbaztarréa
  • Urlabéhéréa
  • Urlagaraya
  • Urritzolahandiko Etchola
  • Uzkalépoa
  • Zaku
  • Zakuko Borda
  • Zubiarin
  • Zubiarinzahar
  • Zumazoko
Traditional house in the Aldudes Valley.


The commune name in Basque is Banka.[4]

For John-Baptiste Orpustan, the origin of the name Banca can have two interpretations: one lent from the Spanish banco designating the bench on which money was exchanged (which gave the French word banque which gave the English bank) or two from bancs de pierre (stone benches).

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

Name Spelling Date Source Page Origin Description
Banca La Fonderie 1750 Cassini Village
Lafonderie 1793 Ldh/EHESS/Cassini
Banca 1832 Orpustan
Bihuntzeguiko erreka Bihuncéguy 1863 Raymond
Stream rising in Banca and joining the Nive at Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry
Churitcha Le Col de Churitcha 1863 Raymond
Mountain Pass on the Spanish border
Ehuntzaroy Le Col d’Éhunsaroy 1863 Raymond
Mountain Pass on the Spanish border
Elhorietta Le Col d'Elhoriéta 1863 Raymond
Mountain Pass on the Spanish border
Gathuly Gathuly 1863 Raymond
Mountain on the border with Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry
Forêt d’Hayra Hayra 1863 Raymond
Forest shared with Urepel
Lindus Lindux 1863 Raymond
Mountain (1220m) on the Spanish border
Meharroztegui Le Col de Méharoztéguy 1863 Raymond
Mountain pass to Aldudes
Mehatzé Le Col de Méhatcé 1863 Raymond
Mountain pass to Spain
Mizpira Le Col de Mizpira 1863 Raymond
Mountain pass to Aldudes
Mizpirachar Mizpirachar 1863 Raymond
Mountain on the Spanish border



Banca owes its origin to the revival in the 18th century of the copper mines which had operated in ancient times. Banca was known as Le Fonderie (The Foundry) until the 19th century" and, under the Ancien Régime, it was a hamlet or district under the parish of Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry. It was not made a commune until 1793 under the same name, then in 1874 it was renamed "Banca". The remains of a large forge, a steel foundry started in 1828 on the site of the former copper smelter, stands at the entrance of the village on the banks of the Nive des Aldudes. The most visible element is a blast furnace in good condition.

The first armed action by Iparretarrak took place in Banca on 11 December 1973.


List of Successive Mayors[14]

From To Name Party Position
1995 2001 Gratien Arambel
2001 2008 Dominique Etcheverry
2008 2020 Michel Oçafrain

(Not all data is known)


The commune is part of four inter-communal structures:

  • the Community of communes of Garazi-Baigorri;
  • the inter-communal association for the development and management of the slaughterhouse in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port;
  • the association to support Basque culture.
  • the joint association for the drainage basin of the Nive;


In 2010 the commune had 335 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from 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 communes that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]

Population change (See database)
1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
803 590 999 1,068 1,419 1,280 1,429 1,309 1,327
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
1,064 1,069 1,020 1,020 1,027 952 944 872 828
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
829 833 815 800 770 780 748 735 799
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2010 -
672 634 524 450 426 373 - 335 -

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

Population of Banca


The Banca Mine

The copper/silver mines and the associated smelter reached their peak in the middle of the 18th century and the forge, with its blast furnace, was in operation from 1828 to 1861.

Economic activity is now mainly agricultural. The town is part of the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) zone of Ossau-iraty.

Culture and heritage

Civil heritage

The commune has a number of buildings and structures that are registered as historical monuments:

  • The Banca Mine on D948 (19th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[15] These remains are at the northern entrance of the village including a blast furnace. The supply canal is fed by the waters of the Nive captured upstream and turn a wheel of a blower machine which injected air at the base of the blast furnace through two nozzles. The adjacent building, still dominated by the canal, housed the forge fires and hammers to make cast iron and a splitting mill for splitting iron bars.
  • Houses and Farms (19th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[16]
  • The Redoubt of Lindus (1813).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[11] This redoubt was used during the Franco-Spanish War 1813-1814.
  • The Gorria Farmhouse (now a Stable) (18th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[9]
  • The Gixonaenea Farmhouse (1808)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[10]
  • The Xangala Farmhouse (19th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[7]

Religious heritage

The Parish Church of Saint Peter.
  • The Parish Church of Saint Peter (19th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg is registered as an historical monument.[17]

Environmental heritage

  • The Petechanea Gallery (0.1 hectares) is one of the locations of the regional conservatory of natural areas of the Pyrenees.
  • Mountain Peaks[6]
    • Mount Harrigorry 806 m
    • Munhogain 853 m
    • Otsamunho 901 m
    • Errola 908 m
    • Abraku 1003 m
    • Ichtauz 1024 m
    • Antchola 1119 m
    • Mehatzé 1209 m
    • Lindus 1220 m
    • Mendimotcha 1224 m
    • Aurigna 1278 m
The Fronton.



The commune has a primary school.


There is a Fronton traversed by a road.

See also


  • Mines and Metallurgical Establishments of Banca, dir. P. Machot, J&D, Biarritz, Izpegi, Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry, 1995, 306 p. (in French)
  • Pierre Machot and Gilles Parent, "Mines and Metallurgy in the Valley of Baïgorry", in The Valley of Baïgorry, Éditions Izpegi, reprinted in 2002 (in French)
  • Gilles Parent, "The handiwork of the Copper Foundry of Banca in the 18th century" in Revue d'Histoire Industrielle des Pyrénées Occidentales, No. 2, 2007, p. 143–222, Éditions Izpegi (in French)

External links

Notes and references


  1. ^ At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002 Archived 6 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force on 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.


  1. ^ Banca on Lion1906
  2. ^ Pays Quint on French (in French)
  3. ^ Inhabitants of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (in French)
  4. ^ a b Euskaltzaindia - Academy of the Basque language (in Spanish)
  5. ^ a b c Banca on Google Maps
  6. ^ a b Banca on the Géoportail from National Geographic Institute (IGN) website (in French)
  7. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000405 Xangala Farmhouse (in French)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Topographic Dictionary of the Department of Basses-Pyrenees, Paul Raymond, Imprimerie nationale, 1863, Digitised from Lyon Public Library 15 June 2011 (in French)
  9. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000461 Gorria Farmhouse (in French)
  10. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000460 Gixonaenea Farmhouse (in French)
  11. ^ a b Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000462 Redoubt of Lindus (in French)
  12. ^ Jean-Baptiste Orpustan, New Basque Toponymy, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 2006, ISBN 2 86781 396 4, p. 165 (in French)
  13. ^ la Fonderie on the 1750 Cassini Map
  14. ^ List of Mayors of France (in French)
  15. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA64000003 Banca Mine (in French)
  16. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000488 Houses and Farms (in French)
  17. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA64000404 Parish Church of Saint Peter (in French)Camera aabb.svg