Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/148

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CHAPTER VII

OLORON


Iluro—Road over the port—The beret—Three parts to the town—How the bishop got a cathedral—The porch—Ste. Croix—Bishop Roussel—Frightened to death—Escot—Independent Republic—Emigration—Sarrance—The Heptameron—Accous—Story of Loustaimau—Osse—Urdos, the French Gibraltar— Mauleon—Espadrillos.


OLORON is the ancient Iluro, in Gallo-Roman times one of the twelve cities of Novempopulania, and of importance as the key to the passage of the Pyrenees by the Val d'Aspe over the Somport.

The Roman road branched off from the Via Aurelia at Lescar, crossed the Gave de Pau, and struck direct for Oloron, where, doubtless, soldiers and merchants and travellers in general rested before undertaking the passage of the mountains. The Roman road, after crossing the chain, descended to the plains, and ran straight as a bird-line for Saragossa. At Escot a Latin inscription remains, cut in the rock by the wayside, commemorating the remaking of the road under the direction of one, Valerius Vernus.

Oloron is a busy town, carrying on the manufacture of the beret, the tam-o'-shanter, wherewith every Basque and Béarnais covers his head.

The town is prettily situated at the junction of the Gave d'Aspe and the Gave d'Ossau, which divide it into three parts. One, Ste. Marie, was for long the communal centre and the