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04Sainte-Engrâce… spectacular and wild


In former times, only smugglers braved the steep paths in this part of the Haute-Soule. It took all the courage of an intrepid caver, Edouard-Alfred Martel, to venture into this warren of rocks and faults at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet in olden days, the farmers lowered the wheat from the clifftops to the watermill at the entrance to the gorges (the mill was washed away by the 1937 floods), only to drag the heavy sacks of flour back up again by the same route.

Haute-Soule has many secluded hamlets in the nooks and crannies of the Basque mountains. The nearby village of Sainte-Engrâce is a uniquely authentic example, whose upper part has preserved a gem of an 11th-century Romanesque church.

Close at hand is another grotto, La Verna, which is a superlative speleological site as it is one of the biggest underground grottos in the world accessible to the general public.



The Sainte-Engrâce lifeline via Kakuetta

During the Second World War, this part of the mountain border between France and Spain soon acquired a reputation as the exit to freedom for many individuals fleeing the Occupation. The Basque shepherds, who had first-hand knowledge of the rock outcrops, risked their lives by defying the German patrols to smuggle people out. During the daytime, the fugitives would lie low in surrounding barns. They were given safe passage over to Spain at night… all thanks to these behind-the-scene helpers.
One of Sainte-Engrâce's families has found letters sent to their grandfather in 1945, by men he had helped slip into Spain. One of the letters confided "I came to you with three of my friends. We left all our identity papers in the roof of your barn, under the first stone by the entrance". The grandfather told his family that he had found their documents and met two of those men again...




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  The municipality of Sainte-Engrâce has decided to keep the Kakuetta Gorges site closed for the 2021 season.
Haute-Soule base camp, discover the essentials of our territory : the impressive Cave of La Verna, our 7 hiking trails suitable for all levels, the Romanesque church of Santa Grazi listed as Historic Monuments...
Meet with our hosts and restaurateurs.
Disconnection guaranteed in the Basque mountains !
 
     

Discover

04Sainte-Engrâce… spectacular and wild


In former times, only smugglers braved the steep paths in this part of the Haute-Soule. It took all the courage of an intrepid caver, Edouard-Alfred Martel, to venture into this warren of rocks and faults at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet in olden days, the farmers lowered the wheat from the clifftops to the watermill at the entrance to the gorges (the mill was washed away by the 1937 floods), only to drag the heavy sacks of flour back up again by the same route.

Haute-Soule has many secluded hamlets in the nooks and crannies of the Basque mountains. The nearby village of Sainte-Engrâce is a uniquely authentic example, whose upper part has preserved a gem of an 11th-century Romanesque church.

Close at hand is another grotto, La Verna, which is a superlative speleological site as it is one of the biggest underground grottos in the world accessible to the general public.



The Sainte-Engrâce lifeline via Kakuetta

During the Second World War, this part of the mountain border between France and Spain soon acquired a reputation as the exit to freedom for many individuals fleeing the Occupation. The Basque shepherds, who had first-hand knowledge of the rock outcrops, risked their lives by defying the German patrols to smuggle people out. During the daytime, the fugitives would lie low in surrounding barns. They were given safe passage over to Spain at night… all thanks to these behind-the-scene helpers.
One of Sainte-Engrâce's families has found letters sent to their grandfather in 1945, by men he had helped slip into Spain. One of the letters confided "I came to you with three of my friends. We left all our identity papers in the roof of your barn, under the first stone by the entrance". The grandfather told his family that he had found their documents and met two of those men again...




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