France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   What to See & Do in Pau, France
Pau makes a great base for visiting the Pyrénées region of France.

  Boulevard des Pyrénés, Pau, France

, Flagpoles along the
Boulevard des Pyrénées.




Pau is a quiet, dignified town with gorgeous views of the Pyrénées. The main part of the city is on a cliff about 100 feet (30 meters) above the Gave de Pau River. The train station is in the lower town, and the lower and upper parts are connected by a Funicular that goes to the Place Royale.

In the upper town, enjoy a stroll along the Boulevard des Pyrénées, the mountain version of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Built in 1900, this wide boulevard offers continuous panoramas of the mountains and several access points to the town center. Various "pics" are identified on charts as you walk along.

At the western end of the Boulevard des Pyrénées stands the majestic Château de Pau, parts of which date from the 12th century. More...

At the eastern end of the Boulevard is the Palais Beaumont, originally a casino and today serving as a cultural and meeting center.

The old town, the several blocks behind the Boulevard, has a number of pedestrian streets that are lovely for exploring and wandering. The modern Place Clemenceau features department stores, office buildings, and a variety of fountains.

Pau has several museums, including a large Musée des Beaux Arts, or Fine Arts Museum, and the Musée Bernadotte, a historic house and the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who became king of Sweden.

And he's not the only king associated with Pau. Henri de Navarre, later King Henri IV, was also born in Pau, in 1589.

Pau has been a popular spot for British holiday makers since the mid 19th century. Attracted by its gentle climate and lovely setting, the British built various villas and stately homes. Some suggested that wintering in Pau could cure various ailments, and many were attracted to the area.

Pau is also home to the Grand Prix de Pau auto race, which has been held here since 1930.

Although Pau is lovely and charming, it does not have big name attractions. As such, it is a relaxing place to visit and a welcome change from more touristic spots, a chance to experience a more typical French town.

Pau is conveniently located and easily reached from a variety of places: 124 kilometers (77 miles) from the Basque beach resort of Biarritz; 113 kilometers (70 miles) from Bayonne (near Biarritz); just 46 kilometers (28 miles) from the religious center of Lourdes; and 195 kilometers (121 miles) from the lovely pink city of Toulouse.

About Pau

Château de Pau

About Lourdes

About Toulouse

Pyrénées Region

About France


Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Funicular, Pau, France

Above, The Funicular, Pau, France.

Below, View of the Pyrénées and a dramatic "pic."


View of the Pyrenees, Pau, France

Hotel de Ville, Pau, France

Above, The lovely Hôtel de Ville, Pau.

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