Former capital of Soule, Mauléon presents the face of the inner Basque Country. Its castle dating from the Middle Ages overlooks the small village of houses with slate roofs. The Upper Town was a crossroads of meetings, fairs and exchanges. Today the market is held there every Tuesday. Downstairs, the town comes alive around the Basque pelota and its famous local festivals. Marked by tradition and authenticity, Mauléon is considered the capital of the espadrille. A little historical review of this fabric shoe that has become a real fashion phenomenon.

It is said that at the beginning of the 12th century, the foot soldiers of the King of Aragon were wearing espadrilles, but to this day no one can precisely determine the birth of this craft. Since the 18th century, espadrilles have been made in the Basque Country by hemp and linen artisans. But it was in the 19th century that the shoe became a great success when a Souletine family started selling espadrilles in large quantities. Manufacturing will move from the artisanal to the pre-industrial stage. After the 1914-18 war, a new sandal with a rubber sole is launched by the Mauléonnais Joseph Bidegain to bring him more resistance, the espadrilles are then sold like hotcakes. In the 1980s, a hard blow slowed down souletine production with the appearance of Chinese espadrilles on the market. To face this new threat, Maulé's craftsmen and industrialists had to be imaginative and the classic espadrille of yesteryear took on a new colour and became essentially a shoe for relaxation and leisure. Today the espadrille is a real fashion accessory, and if Mauléon still remains the capital of the espadrille, the industrial workforce has seriously regressed there... but the quality has remained intact.

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