A Traveller's Guide to Pau, France
Situated in south-western France on the northern edge of the Pyrenees overlooking the valley of the river Gave de Pau, the city of Pau is the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département and Béarn region. The town is popular with holiday-makers and outdoor sports enthusiasts as a starting point for accessing the Parc National des Pyrenees.
Getting To and Around Pau
Pau is located just 50km from the Spanish border and 100km inland from the Atlantic ocean. The regional centers of Toulouse, Tabes, Lourdes, Oloron, Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz and Bordeaux are all within easy driving distance of Pau. To access the town by road, take the A64 from the east or west or the N134 if driving in to Pau from its south.
The city is serviced by the Pau-Pyrénées airport which is located just 10km from the town center. Direct international flights are available from Brussels and London-Stansted.
The regional rail from Gare de Pau offers connections to Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse and other regional centers. Pau is also linked to Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Bayonne by the TGV high-speed rail line.
Within the city itself bus routes available throughout Pau as well as linking the town to the adjoining communes.
Things To See and Do in Pau
There is much to see and do in Pau. The town itself is quite elegant in appearance, featuring several well-preserved Belle Epoque buildings. The Boulevard des Pyrénées at the top of the hill has buildings only on its northern side, with the southern side consisting of a terrace overlooking the river valley as well as providing stunning panoramic views spanning from the Pic du Midi de Bigorre to the Pic d'Anie. Terraced gardens cascade down the side of the valley and on the terraced boulevard above plaques describe the views of the mountains in the distance. Funiculaire de Pau, the funicular railway links the boulevard to the valley below.
Along the boulevard, you can visit Château de Pau, which was once used as a holiday home by Napoleon and its small garden that was once tended to by Marie Antoinette. Place Royale and Parc du Beaumont are also located along the boulevard.
Among the other attractions in Pau are the Musee Bernadotte, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Fermiers Basco-Bearnais cheese centre and Casino Municipal.
For those who are more active and adventurous, Pau is an excellent starting point for venturing into the Pyrenees where a multitude of outdoor activities can be undertaken including hiking, canoeing, white-water rafting, horse-riding and in the cooler months downhill and cross-country skiing.