Olette, between the river Têt and the Madres massif
Between the river Têt and the Madres massif
Olette is located at the entrance of the Haut-Conflent and les Garrotxes, on the left bank of the Têt. The territory extends northwards up the valley of Evol, to the southern slopes of the Madres massif (2469 metres), where the Gorg Negre (Black Lake, 2882 metres) one of the so-called marshes of Nohède lies. To the east, the heights are also important, with Mount Coronat culminating at 2172 metres.
The commune has on its territory the village of Evol (780 meters) and its hamlet Thuir d’Evol (830 metres), as well as the hamlet of the Bastide d’Olette, on the right bank of the Têt. This was the location of the castle which Jean de So, Viscount Evol had built for himself in the fourteenth century, and it is now the seat of the Regional Natural Park Catalan Pyrenees. In the 1980’s, on the same site, the fluorspar from an open-pit mine in Escaro was processed. This plant is now demolished, and has been replaced by a mushroom farm today.
The municipality is located in an essentially schistous region. Production of lloses (slates) used for roofs was the speciality of the Evol valley. A craft quarry, reopened in 2009, produces fine materials for the restoration of historic monuments.
A little history
The first mention goes back to the year 875, when the name is written as Oleta.
Its situation along the road to Cerdagne permitted considerable development once the conflicts ceased. The date of 1603 is symbolic on this subject. That year, the church of Olette became a parish church, replacing that of Evol, and dedicated, like the latter, to Saint Andrew.
Many industrial activities, especially those related to metallurgy, led to a rapid growth in the population until the mid-nineteenth century, with a maximum of 1286 inhabitants in 1851. But a decline started in 1901, and the population fell to below 1000 inhabitants. This phenomenon accelerated between the two wars, but stabilized at above 600 people. The demographic curve started to reverse, and now Olette has 398 inhabitants.