The Ossau Valley has kept its cultural traditions alive
The TranshumanceThus, every year, at the beginning of July, transhumance takes place: The shepherds of the Valley lead their herds in the mountain pastures.
During his months in summer, every morning and at the end of the day, the shepherd draws his sheep to make his cheese.
The latter bears the specific name of «Fromage d'Estive», flagship of Ossau cheese. The rise of herds in the summer pastures was done for several years with the help of trucks. Some still practice «old-fashioned transhumance».
That is, the herd rises at its own pace to the summer pastures, it walks through the villages. Depending on the areas and altitude of the pastures, the summer season is variable.
Some transhumate from the beginning of June, while herds that go to the pastures of Anéou or Bious, do not rise until early July (on average between 4 and 11 July).
Two days, excluding weekends, are organized on the theme of pastoralism with the marking of animals (on the Bénou plateau, in the Monplaisir district in Gère-Belesten), stops are planned for herds and men, conferences, animations.
An event not to be missed !
Cheese in the Ossau ValleyIn the Ossau Valley, there is a taste rite that no holidaymaker wants to deviate from: Test the country cheese.
It is eaten on market stalls, in farms or pastoral huts.
While spending your holidays in the Ossau Valley, you will be able to discover different cheeses. Among them, of course, sheep’s tomme: an uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese made by hand according to a very ancient method.
In the Ossau Valley, you can enjoy pure sheep, but not that… We also find in our producers goat cheese, cow cheese, mixed...
Another specialty, however less popular: the greuil, cheese specialty of Béarn. It is a sheep curd obtained from whey from the manufacture of sheep tomme. Traditionally it is served as a dessert with a little coffee and a tear of Armagnac.
It is also possible to taste it salty and peppery mixed with a few sprigs of chives and shallots. Every shepherd has his method and his little secrets!
During the Cheese Fair, which takes place every year in Laruns on the first weekend of October, a competition rewards the best sheep cheese in the Ossau Valley. This traditional festival is also called «Hera Deu Hromatge», in the local language.