Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/73

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CHAPTER IV

S. JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT


Four valleys—The Basque land—Quarrels with Bayonne—The Sieur de Puyane—Cambo—Itxasson—Pas de Roland—Stalagmitic saint—S. Jean-Pied-de-Port—The first book in Basque—Patronal feasts—Roncevaux—The Song of Roland—The history of Turpin—Death of Roland—His horn—Convent —Canons—Virgin with diamonds in her eyes—Spanish kitchen—Smugglers—Escape of the Princess of Beira—The Couvade.


FROM the ridge of the Western Pyrenees descend four large valleys towards the north, each with a river running at the bottom. The westernmost and least important is that of the Nivelet, that flows into the Bay of Biscay at S. Jean de Luz. The second thence is the Nive, that discharges its waters into the Adour at Bayonne. The third is the Bidouze, which reaches the Adour just below where that river receives the mingled waters of the two Gaves. The last of these, and the easternmost of these rivers, is the Cenon, that loses itself in the Gave of Oloron, near Sauveterre.

In the ancient geography of France these four valleys were somewhat irregularly divided into districts, of which the westernmost was called Labourde, and the easternmost Soule, and the central portion was Lower Navarre. Taken collectively these districts constitute the Basque land, the population of which was closely related in language, habits,