Sylvia Sabes divides her time between Paris and the Northern Basque Country.  This French-American is a publicist, journalist, photographer, and author, and she just published a very interesting article on Basque pelota in the “Travel” section of the BBC website.

As is usual with us Basques, the BBC’s tags for the article are not based on us Basques but rather on France (Culture and Identity / Cultural Activities / France / Europe).  This is undoubtedly one of the prices we Basques have to pay for being a country divided between two states.

Nevertheless, the author does understand that she’s talking about “Basque stuff.,” though her description and references focus on the part north of the Pyrenees.  Her description of what the heart of many small Basque towns is is an absolute beauty to read, and helps us understand how important Basque pelota and the pelota courts, the frontón, are in our communities.

To travel through our country’s small towns is to discover an entire catalogue of all kinds of courts, adapted to all the different types and styles Basques have enriched this sport with.

Whenever we talk about Basque pelota and the courts in the Northern Basque Country, we recall the INA documentary “La pelote basque” which defined it as the “Basque national sport.”

And when, as Sylvia Saber does, the presence of this sport in the world is discussed, we can’t help recalling that the whole world is dotted with the courts built by the Basques who carried their lives, their culture, and their sport to every corner of the planet.  We can see this in the articles we’ve written about frontones or Basque pelota, from Canada to Australia, from China to Patagonia.

Because wherever those Basques from all Basque territories have gone, they have been able to adapt and integrate themselves into their adopted homelands, without abandoning their traditions (we highly recommend the documentary “Los vascos en California“, also by INA), thereby fulfilling the maxim to “in your adopted homelands be, among all citizens, the best,” without cutting off the roots that connect them to their lands of origin.

City hall, church, and court synthesize all the basic aspects that define the Basque people: the concept of community, of belonging to a group, even after traveling to all the corners of the globe.  It is therefore no surprise that these structures, even today, are the centerpieces of many towns in our nation.

BBC – 6/5/2022 – Great Britain

Euskal pilota: The Basque Country’s centuries-old ball games

I am dazzled by the rural beauty of France’s Basque Country, where the untamed coast and rolling green hills are dappled with red tile-roofed villages and surrounded by clouds of white sheep. Walking through these towns, I’m always on the lookout for a singular wall, measuring approximately 16m wide and 10m tall. It’s often pink, sometimes pale yellow, and the date it was erected is usually emblazoned on the façade. It’s possible, but not required, that the top of the wall rises into an arch and is lined with a mesh fence.

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Traductor de Google. BBC Travel does not accept Google automatic translation, so you have to copy and paste it yourself into the translator

Header photo: Euskal pilota/Basque pilota (Andia/Getty Images)