Basque pelota

The history of Urrugne and pelota have been closely linked for centuries.
The village has always had a trinquet, where a form of real tennis is played and which today belongs today to the Dongaitz family. It is located next to the church.

According to tradition, Louis XI, during his stay at the Château d'Urtubie, played real tennis at the trinquet.

Originally, pelota was played using the bare hand in a fronton known as place libre. Other varieties of Basque pelota only appeared later on.

The large fronton in Urrugne was built between 1848 and 1850. It was inaugurated on 18 September 1851 in the presence of 10,000 people and gave rise to three days of celebrations.

Urrugne's patronage festival, the "Fêtes de la Bixintxo" (1st week of September), are today still the occasion for major pelota tournaments which attract large audiences.

Every Tuesday evening in the summer you can watch Basque pelota demonstrations.

Well-known pilotaris from Urrugne:

  • the DONGAITZ family marked the history of pelota: Jean DONGAITZ, bare hand pelota champion in the 19th century, then his son Joseph (1895-1914), Jean-Baptiste (1897-1925) and Léon (1902-1940).
  • HALSOUET alias "Eskerra" (lefthander) and LARRE alias "Ciki" (small) whose medal (work by the sculptor Puiforcat) decorates the fronton in Urrugne.
  • François ZUGASTI - more recently the champions Paul ZUGASTI, Jean-Philippe BIDEONDO and Patrick de EZCURRA were added to this long line.
  • Pascal de EZCURRA is one of the current leading independent players.
  • URRUGNE is proud to have helped some of the most well-known players become part of the history of Basque pelota over the last hundred years or so.

Learn more and try Basque pelota for yourself during our guided tours.