Destination France: Why Not Choose Pau?
Its privileged location in the heart of the Pays de l'Adour and next to the Gave de Pau river has made this former fortress a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century, first with the English, then with all art and history lovers.
And with good reason: sports and cultural events, magnificent parks, a historic castle: the city of Pau has so much to discover!
A city of fascinating history and stunning nature
Why not start your visit with a ride on the funicular? Over a hundred years old, these recently restored little cabins are an elegant, free and effortless way to get to the Boulevard des Pyrénées. Their old-fashioned charm makes them one of the emblems of Pau's heritage, and they welcome over 450,000 passengers every year. When you get to your destination, stroll along the Boulevard des Pyrénées, connecting Beaumont Park to Pau Castle.
With its rich and fascinating history, in 2012, the city signed the "Ville d’art et d'histoire" ("Town of art and history") agreement with the French Ministry of Culture. In this capacity, throughout the year, it organises guided tours and events on historical themes.
But Pau also offers nature lovers a breathtaking mountain landscape. The Pyrenees mountain range, the Pic du Midi d'Ossau, lakes and rivers: it's a feast for the eyes!
If you want to relax for a moment, let yourself be tempted by one of the balneotherapy spaces, or if water sports are your thing, then dive in! Dare to try rafting, kayaking, whitewater swimming or canyoning. What's more, you can experience these sports at the foot of the Béarnaise mountains, and for an even more breathtaking setting, a stone's throw from Pau castle!
These waters are also great for fishing enthusiasts, with carp, pike, zander, brown trout, rainbow trout, char and brook trout.
Leave some time for attractions outside of the city: the Asson zoo to the east is a unique site: a real-life exotic arc at the foot of the Pyrenees; and 30 minutes from Pau, the Bétharram Caves take you on a journey to the centre of the Earth like no other in Europe.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Pau Castle,famous as the birthplace of Henry IV of France and one of the most visited monuments in the country. Built in the Middle Ages, this fortified castle was built on a small hill overlooking the Gave, in order to protect Pau. Since 1926, it has been home to a museum where you can admire the royal apartments and collections related to Henry IV of France. Don't miss out on the gardens while you're there!
The Bernadotte museum pays homage to the child of Béarn who became King of Sweden.
The Pau Fine Arts Museum offers an exceptionally wide panorama of European art from the late 15th century to the 1970s. All of the European schools are represented there. One of the most complete museums of its generation!
Beaumont Park, the "green lungs" of Pau, is where all the locals head on a Sunday. It's the perfect place to relax in the shade of century-old trees or by the bandstand.
The Pôle culturel intercommunal de Pau (Pau inter-communal cultural centre) in the city's former abattoirs. A hub for diverse cultural and artistic initiatives, artists' residences and associations, but also a space for exhibitions, shows, concerts and meetings.
The Ossau Valley is a haven for nature lovers. Its invigorating, fresh and pure landscapes, its peaks reflected in lakes, and its waterfalls and torrents will bring you a huge breath of fresh air. Look up to the sky and you might see large birds of prey circling. And if you stay very quiet, you might spot a marmot or even an elegant Pyrenean chamois jumping from rock to rock. You can discover this wonderful region by car, tourist train, or even better, on foot.
The Pointe de Pléneuf offers a charming walk from Val André beach and remarkable views towards the Bay of St-Brieuc.
Bénou Plateau is located above Bilhères. The view stretches on as far as the grey rocks of the Pic de Ger. The road leads to the bucolic Bénou valley, where you can see the seasonal movement of livestock at the end of spring. The sight of the flocks ascending to the heights of the plateau is spectacular. From here, you have the option of many hiking trails.
- Asson Zoo: a new kind of zoo! You will find yourself in the heart of a wild world where over 100 species of animals roam free. An exceptional site with an international reputation. Bétharram Caves, true wonders of the Pyrenees, taking you to the centre of the Earth. This fantastic journey will take you across a mountain by train, on foot or by boat, to see stalactites, stalagmites, columns, faults, an underground river, a chasm and much more…
World-renowned local produce
Béarnaise cows (an institution!) are living relics of ancestral pastoral activity. This tradition gave rise to Tomme cow's cheese, then goat's cheese, and finally mixed cheese. The Ossau-Iraty cheese trail takes you directly to the producers of local cheeses, to witness their authentic know-how. A great chance to meet local producers.
Wine lovers can escape on Bearn's roads, in a landscape of vineyards. You can learn about the wines from those most passionate about them. Sample a Jurançon and a Pacherenc-du-vic-bilh golden white wine, discover the Madiran red with its intense flavour, or savour a cool Béarn rosé.
February: Béarn Carnival
May: Vintage and Modern Automobile Grand Prix
July: Tour de France
August: Hestiv'Oc Festival
September: Heritage days
October: the Étoiles de Pau (horse trials****)
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