When Olette was the chief town of the canton !
When Olette was the chief town of the canton !
"Twice a day, the whole school took over the square for playtime: hide-and-seek behind the plane trees and the carts, under the watchful eyes of three masters and two donkeys. The little schoolchildren spent their holed centime coins on tins of coconut sweets and barley sugars at the two bakeries.
Twice a week, Xiquette (in black headscarf and long dress) came down from Evol on her little Judea donkey to shop at Olette. At that time, women had the choice of three butchers from whom to buy their beefsteak, and of five grocers for their cheese! She tied her donkey to the iron rings set into the walls, and when the saddlebags were full, she set off, riding sidesaddle on its back.” Jacqueline Trouquet, née Rigole 2016.
Once the horrors of the hostilities had ended, Olette regained the serene life of the pleasant chief town of the canton, which the wrath of the administration had not yet amputated:
A railway station with its regular traffic of passengers and goods and its stationmaster,
A tax office open every day to taxpayers,
A brand new school,
A "Ponts et Chaussées office, headed by an engineer in charge of a team of road builders,
A post office with its postmistress, an employee and a postman who rode his ancient bike to do his rounds,
Two brigades, one of gendarmerie and the other of customs officers controlling the few cars which went by on the National 116, and on which you could also see cows and mules going past,
A notary’s office
Two garage owners ready to do a repair or fill up a vehicle,
Workers or pensioners, miners or farmers, all could find the solution to any problem on the spot back then…
Who doesn’t remember the two cafés animated with their games of "truc” and "belote”, or the Hotel de la Fontaine, the very height of Roussillon gastronomy, its hare or wild boar stews, its succulent trout fished from the Têt that very morning, its miraculous cellar which contained the finest wines, such as the delicious rosé of Saint Antoine pressed in the autumn on the square to regale the gourmet palates of the élite of the region?”.
Hubert Trouquet, 2016
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.
De la via romana als comins dels canons
De la via romana als camins del canons
Aquest pont està probablement situat a la ruta de la Via Confluentana, una calçada romana que anava des d’Illiberris (Elne), pujant per la vall de la Tet fins unir-se al Coll de la Perche. Al setembre de 1777 (la data està inscrita en el pilar del pont), la renovació i ampliació d'aquest treball es va dur a terme sota la responsabilitat de Pierre (Pere) Poeydavant, sub-delegat general de la província de Rosselló i del país de Foix.
La batalla de Oleta (28 d'agost al 3 de setembre de 1793) i el camí
estratègic dels Canons
Entre Mont-Louis i Oleta al costat assolellat de l'Alt Conflent existeix un camí que neix d'un esdeveniment històric: la batalla d'Oleta. Es diu el camí dels Canons. Es va utilitzar per guanyar una batalla decisiva per l'exèrcit francès, lliurat pel general Luc Siméon Auguste Dagobert de Fontenille, contra l'exèrcit espanyol del general Ricardos, per pendre Oleta i Villefranche-de-Conflent i per evitar que arribi a Mont -Louis.
Aquest fi estratègic, per sorpresa dels espanyols, amb base a la vall del Tet, fou construït de nit un camí a través del bosc de les Llançades sortint de Mont-Louis, que va permetre col.locar els canons transportats per bous per sobre d’Oleta i bombardejar la plaça espanyola. La sorpresa va ser total. Després les tropes franceses van atacar la ciutat posant en fugida als espanyols. Es va obrir el camí. La ciutat fortificada de Villefranche-de-Conflent va caure poc després (4 de setembre de 1793).
Retrat del general Dagobert , per Yan Dargent