Whatever their origin: Catalan, Bigourdanes, from the Ariège or Basque, the Pyrenean houses are all different. But wherever they may be, they represent the basis of social life, from being the family cornerstone to setting a strong cultural identity. Their building was made of rich local natural resources like wood, slate and lauze. Remainders of huts built by shepherds can still be found in the high mountain pastures.

The “etxe”, house of the Basques, is much more than just a house and symbolises a social family-based organisation. The house represents the family, and its master, “etxekojaun” in Basque language, used to transmit it to the eldest, who’d inherited the house.


It is obvious that in the Pyrenees, houses have a real symbolic value as important as their daily use, a home more than a house. For a long while, wood was common to all Pyrenean houses, whether for galleries, cladding pinion or divided friezes. It was the essential material from the peasant house to the thermal residence.
However, traditional houses made from bricks or pebbles, vary a lot depending on the valleys, the altitude and the exposition to the weather, all elements that will influence their location.
Local materials such as slate are used for the roofs, which, the higher up in altitude one goes, the steepest slopes they have, to facilitate snow evacuation.
As far as architecture is concerned, one can distinguish three large areas: The Basque country, from Bearn to Ariège, specifically with some typical barns made of wood and slate, and finally the Catalan territory.