PauNestled in the corner of rural south-west France stands Pau, the capital of the Béarn province, a bastion of history and culture. The town occupies a unique geographical position in the foothills of the Pyrenées. With its awe-inspiring views of the mountain range, Pau is only a few hundred kilometres from the major towns of Bordeaux and Toulouse and even closer to Spain and the Atlantic Ocean. A springboard to sunny beaches or snow-capped mountains, Pau’s pretty streets, and excellent gastronomy are enough to ensure leaving will be difficult.
The CityPau is a versatile city, and most sights are located just a short funicular ride away from the train station. Set on a hillside, you will find a majestic château, the former residence of Henri IV, the first Protestant king of France. The town’s iconic street, the Boulevard des Pyrénées, offers beautiful views adorned by palm trees, mountains, and the national park surrounding it. Behind "the strip" there are busy little streets shooting off and converging around the main squares and central areas of Place Clémenceau and Place Royal. Everything is easily accessible from the boulevard, whether it's the bars lining it, the boutiques and clothes shops behind it, or the Centre Bosquet a few minutes’ walk away.
Do & See
Pau offers many historical attractions like the impressive Château de Pau, and various museums with interesting art and heritage on display. If you would like to go on a longer excursion, you will also find a wide range of splendid cities and villages around Pau. The combination of castles, beautiful architecture, English style gardens and fun activities makes this town well worth exploring.
Pau and the Béarn area are famed for their cuisine. As with other parts of south-west France, it is the duck that dominates local dishes. Some specialties in Pau include foie gras, tender slices of duck breast (magret de canard), cured ham (jambon de Bayonne) and creamy mountain sheep cheeses. The Palois like a good stew as well, often a garbure béarnaise, with potatoes, white beans, and, of course, duck. Poule au pot, a whole chicken cooked in a pot with onions, potatoes and wine, is also popular, and is washed down with a dry Jurançon wine.
After a long day of sightseeing in Pau, drop in one of its numerous coffee shops and enjoy the wide range of good food and pastries.
Bars & Nightlife
Bar culture is an integral part of the Pau experience. The Palois like to go out, and take their time over a demi pression (beer) or a glass of wine. Pau might be a relatively small town but it sure knows how to party. The bars that line the Boulevard des Pyrénées also double as clubs. The music is gradually cranked up as day turns into night. For a premium club experience, you can head out of town to the Quartier Libre, or simply hop on the train to Pamplona/Iruña!
Pau’s main shopping area is concentrated behind the symbolic Boulevard des Pyrénées. The Place Clémenceau has some stylish boutiques and similar shops can be found on the roads that shoot off the square, notably rue Maréchal Foch, Cours Bousquet and rue du Château. Other good streets for local gifts and clothes are the pedestrianised areas of rue Serviez and rue Cordelières. In these areas you'll be able to find many big chain stores like H&M, Zara and Sephora. For local produce and gift shops the little streets such as rue Henri IV of the Old Town are the best. There are also a number of excellent “boulangeries artisanales” (bakeries) selling croissants and baguettes. Rue de la République is a short pedestrian street lined with many small shops, ranging from clothing stores to butcher shops, offering the chance to shop for unique pieces.