In the heart of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Pau has more than one asset to seduce and charm tourists and other visitors passing through who wish to enjoy this city located in the heart of the mountains. Pau and its castle, where Henri IV was born in 1553; Pau and its national stud farm, listed as a Historic Monument, but also Pau and its golf course, which is nothing less than the oldest golf course in the world, with the exception of the British Isles. Pau is also intimately linked to water, with its gave, the gave de Pau, a dream place for lovers of water sports. Above all, Pau is the promise of superb walks with family or friends.
The Boulevard des Pyrénées, a must-see stroll in Pau
As soon as you arrive, to capture the magic of the Paloise city, head for the Boulevard des Pyrénées, a stroll that cannot be ignored. Facing the Pyrenees mountain range, here are two kilometres of wonder, from the gates of the castle to the Beaumont park, on this 72 arches suspended terrace. The view is panoramic, so rare that it has been classified and protected since 1944 under the name "Horizons palois"! The bars, restaurants and tearooms that you will meet have a very special soul, don't hesitate to take a seat on the terrace, they are among the most beautiful in the city. The Boulevard des Pyrénées was created following a visit by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808. He was the first to evoke the possibility of creating a walk along the mountains. It was not until 1893 that the mayor Henri Faisans began the work, which was completed in 1899. The aim was to develop foreign tourism and to make the town pleasant for visitors, especially in winter: today, we know that it is a total success! The funicular, created in 1908, is no stranger to this, it connects the station to the town and retains the unique charm of the beginning of the last century. Down below, the river Gave crosses the plain, the view passes over the slopes of the Jurançon vineyards and the Pyrenees on a clear day offer a masterly view. You never get tired of walking along this avenue, strolling and contemplating the horizon, whatever the season. An obligatory place of passage!
Beaumont Park, nature in the heart of Pau
Beaumont Park is one of the most fabulous sites in the city, and the Palois do not hesitate to make it come alive. In the heart of the city, this exotic island is an institution! At the slightest ray of sunshine, they take over the park and its lawns, family, children, lovers, friends, for a picnic or an impromptu ox, its majestic trees provide an incredible exotic setting. California redwoods, Himalayan cedars, Judean trees, horse chestnut trees from India and the Balkans, magnolias... beauty is everywhere. In 2019, the park was rehabilitated. The aim: to restore Pau's most beautiful romantic park to its Belle Epoque glory and revive the original spirit and vision of its creator Henri Larmanou in 1876, implemented in 1899 by Henry Martinet. The paths have therefore been retraced, the park reflowered. There has also been a renovation of the furniture and an enhancement of the pond
Historic heart, architecture and museums
This walk goes from the Beaumont park to the castle of Pau and goes up to rue Nogué. The historic heart has strategic and unmistakable points such as the statue of Henri IV, Place Royale, opposite the bandstand or its flamboyant Renaissance gardens. Close to these exceptional places, you will discover a plethora of shopkeepers in small cobbled streets around three sectors: the Alfred de Vigny Fountain square, the surroundings of the Parliament of Navarre and those adjacent to the castle - antique dealers, shops and of course many restaurants. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Bernadotte Museum mark the area and the Hotel Gassion will catch your eye as you pass by. Half-timbered houses and imposing wooden doors retain their ancient lustre in the adjoining streets. The spires of the church of Saint-Martin (dating from 1860) are a counterpart to the tower of the Parliament of Navarre (former bell tower of an older church). The historic quarter will take you through the ages and eras, with each architectural element bearing a mark of the passage of history, all the way to Les Halles.
The castle of Pau, birthplace of Henri IV and national museum
Place of birth of Henri IV, in 1553, the castle of Pau holds its origins of a feudal castle built on a first wooden fortification before the 11th century. It is with Gaston Fébus that the building became an impregnable fortress in the second half of the 14th century. Castle of the kings of Navarre and royal palace, the Renaissance added its architectural innovations: kitchen, courtyard (paved and completely renovated this year), balconies... The only thing missing are the fabulous gardens that Jeanne d'Albret and Antoine de Bourbon created for an ideal splendour at the birth of their son, the future king. If he didn't live there for long, his famous cradle in turtle shell is still there! With Louis-Philippe, the total restoration of the complex began and continued with major works under Napoleon III. Thus were revealed the various lives of the castle, now the National Museum of Art and History. Some 12,000 works and objects are listed in its inventories and the collections are of an absolute wealth. The tapestries of the Gobelins, the furniture that recreates ceremonial apartments, but also paintings and sculptures contemporary or not to the King make its fame. The historic French-style garden, with flowers and a vegetable garden full of treasures preserved and maintained by 12 art gardeners, completes this site which never ceases to write its history.
Statues that leave no stone unturned
In Pau, statues and monuments are an integral part of the city's identity. During your strolls, you will discover some everywhere. Some are real symbols, unavoidable in the landscape, which the visitors enjoy... and the photographers too! The statue of Henri IV on Place Royale, busts in the Beaumont Park, the statue of Hercules from the Square Georges V, candelabra on the Boulevard des Pyrénées: if the most famous are masterful, there are nearly 80 of them to embellish the city of Béarn! There are many testimonies of the 3rd Republic, the works of the sculptor Etcheto, the only statue of Devéria, sumptuous pieces by Ernest Gabard..
The incredible Hédas district and its timeless stroll
Finally, the Hédas district, whose rehabilitation is exceptional. From the ramparts of the castle to the Place d'Espagne, enchantment is everywhere. Plants with soft scents punctuate the streets, acacias, roses, daphnés guide you, in height the surprises are everywhere, from the bamboo grove to the mulch... From the medieval towers to the covered passages, passing by the pebbles of the fortress, you will escape out of time. A magnificent wall of lichen vegetation will amaze you, birds, deer, lamp posts: it leads you to one of the many activities for children, the famous slides! A little extra that brings the place to a level of urban art of a rare quality, the studied and playful lighting is provided by luminous portholes that create a fairy-tale world: as beautiful by day as by night, this district of Hédas is pure happiness. By highlighting its heritage in a sublime way, Pau stands out with splendour. Small restaurants embellish this atypical exit, below the heart of the city and reachable by lifts. Let's eat!
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