Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques


Top, left to right: The Boulevard des Pyrénées and the Pic du Midi d'Ossau

Middle, left to right: The Pic du Midi de Bigorre and the Palais Beaumont

Bottom: The Château de Pau

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 43°18′N 0°22′W / 43.30°N 0.37°W / 43.30; -0.37Coordinates: 43°18′N 0°22′W / 43.30°N 0.37°W / 43.30; -0.37
Country France
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Department Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Arrondissement Pau
Intercommunality Pau Pyrénées
  Mayor (2014–2020) François Bayrou (MoDem)
Area1 31.51 km2 (12.17 sq mi)
Population (2007)2 84,978
  Density 2,700/km2 (7,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Palois
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 64445 / 64000
Elevation 165–245 m (541–804 ft)
(avg. 178 m or 584 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Pau (French pronunciation: [po], Occitan pronunciation: [paw], Basque pronunciation: [paw]) is a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, and capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.

The city is located in the heart of the former sovereign State of Béarn, of which it was the capital from 1464. Bordered by the Gave de Pau, the city is located 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Spain. This position gives it an exceptional panorama across the mountain range of the Pyrenees as well as on the hillsides of Jurançon. The name of Horizons Palois aims to protect this vision, in particular with the famous Boulevard des Pyrénées which extends for 1.8 kilometres (1.1 miles) from the Château de Pau to the Parc Beaumont. Alphonse de Lamartine said: "Pau has the world's most beautiful view of the earth just as Naples has the most beautiful view of the sea."

Archaeology has asserted that the site has been occupied at least since the Gallo-Roman era.[note 1] Nevertheless, it wasn't until the first half of the 12th century that the first mentions of Pau as a settlement are found.[note 2] The town originated from the construction of its castle, likely from the 11th century by the Viscounts of Béarn, to protect the ford which was a strategic point for access to the Bearn valleys and then to Spain. The city thus took its name from the stockade (pau in Bearnese) which set the boundaries of the primitive castle.

The village which was built around the castle took advantage of its strategic position as well as the protection of the Viscounts of Béarn to widely develop over the following centuries. Pau became the capital of Béarn in 1464, thus becoming the political, cultural and economic centre of this small State which continued to defend its independence from the neighbouring French, English and Spanish peoples. The town and its castle took on a new dimension by becoming the seat of the Kings of Navarre, at the capture of Pamplona, by the Kingdom of Castile in 1512. Pau became a leading political and intellectual centre under the reign of Henry d'Albret and his wife Marguerite.

The history of Pau is marked by the birth of Henry of Bourbon 13 December 1553 in the castle of his grandparents. He gained access to the throne of France in 1589 under the title of Henry IV. The image of the city is since widely associated with that of this monarch made famous for his willingness to put an end to the seemingly endless Wars of Religion. With the end of Béarnaise independence in 1620, Pau lost its influence but remained the same at the head of a largely autonomous province. It was home to the Parliament of Navarre which wrote its texts in Occitan until the Revolution and its dismantling to create the Department of Basses-Pyrénées (becoming Pyrénées-Atlantiques in 1969). It was during the 18th century when another famous person was born in Pau, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte who became Marshal of the Empire and King of Sweden (today, still the ruling dynasty) and Norway from 1818 until his death in 1844.

The Belle Époque marked a resurgence for the Béarnaise capital with a massive influx of wealthy foreign tourists (including English but also Russian, Spanish and American), they came to spend the winter to take advantage of the benefits of Pau climate described by the Scottish physician Alexander Taylor. Pau turned widely with the construction of many villas and mansions to accommodate these wintering rich people, the city also developed all elements of modernity for their comfort: baths, funicular and railway station. It was at this time that Pau became one of the world capitals of the nascent aerospace industry under the influence of the Wright brothers, crowned heads[note 3] then pressed there to observe the flight of the first flying school in the world.

With the decline of tourism during the 20th century, the Pau economy (and its suburbs) gradually shifted towards the aviation industry and then to that of petrochemicals with the major discovery of the Lacq gas deposit in 1951. Pau today is a city of about 80,000 inhabitants, the main urban area of Pau and of the Agglomeration community of Pau-Pyrenees with 13 neighbouring communes which carry out local tasks together. The Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, founded in 1972, accounts for a large student population. The city plays a leading role for Béarn but also for a wide segment of the Adour area. An administrative capital, it boasts a dense economic fabric including service activities.[note 4] Pau also plays the role of cultural capital with many events, including sports. Pau heritage extends over several centuries, its diversity and its quality allowed it to obtain the label of City of Art and History in 2011.

The name of its people is Palois and the motto of Pau is in Latin: Urbis palladium et gentis ("protective of the city and its people").



The château and the Pont du XIV-juillet [14 July Bridge] seen from the banks of the Gave de Pau

Pau is 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 km (31 miles) from the Pyrenees. Spain is 50 km (31 mi) away as the crow flies. The frontier is crossed by the col du Somport (1,631 metres (5,351 feet)) and the col du Pourtalet (1,794 m (5,886 ft)). Access to the crossings partly accounts for Pau's strategic importance.

Pau is located 200 km (124 mi) west of Toulouse, 30 km (19 mi) from Tarbes and Lourdes, 25 km (16 mi) from Oloron. The conglomeration of Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz is at 110 km (68 mi), Bordeaux 190 km (118 mi).

Communal boundaries


Pau is served by the Pau Pyrénées Airport 10 km (6 mi) away. Limited scheduled flights serve Amsterdam, London, Southampton, Dublin, Lyon and Paris.

A TGV rail line runs to Paris and from Bayonne to Toulouse. The A64 autoroute goes to the east. The A65 autoroute was opened in December 2010, linking Pau with Bordeaux and the Dordogne. The city is connected to the Spain through the Somport tunnel and the Col du Pourtalet.


The city, located at an average altitude of 200 metres (660 ft), is crossed by the Gave de Pau, where a ford gave passage to the Pyrenees. Gave is the name given to a torrent in the Pyrenees. The Gave de Pau, which becomes a torrent when mountain snow melts, takes its source in the Cirque de Gavarnie and is the main tributary of the Adour, into which it empties after 175 kilometres (109 mi). The crossing was used for pasturage for sheep in the high meadows. The old route is now a hiking path, GR 65, that runs 60 km (37 mi) south to the border. The lands of the commune are also watered by the Luy de Béarn, a tributary the Luy, and by its tributaries, the Aïgue Longue and the Uzan, as well as the Soust, the Herrère, the Ousse and the Ousse des Bois, tributaries of the Gave de Pau. The Aygue Longue is in turn joined the territory of Pau by the Bruscos and the Lata streams, just as the Ousse is joined by the Merdé stream. The Lau Creek that feeds the Canal du Moulin, meanwhile is also present in the municipality.


Pau features wet mild winters, with warm, mild summers that are drier. Its geographical location, not far from the Pyrenees, gives the city a contrasting, warm oceanic climate. Temperatures colder than −10 °C (14.0 °F) are rare and those below −15 °C (5.0 °F) are exceptional. It should be noted nevertheless that temperatures reached lows of −15 °C (5.0 °F) in February 1956 and −17.5 °C (0.5 °F) in January 1985. Snow falls about 15 days per year (0.45 metres (18 in) in 1987), from November to April.

In summer, the maximum temperatures are of the order of 20 to 30 °C (68.0 to 86.0 °F), and temperatures above 35 °C (95.0 °F) are reached very rarely. During some days of winter, the foehn, a warm wind, can raise the temperature over 20 °C (68.0 °F). As soon as the wind stops, snow can fall.

Rainfall is high, of the order of 1,100 millimetres (43 in) per year (compared to 650 millimetres (26 in) in Paris, 900 millimetres (35 in) in Bordeaux, and 650 millimetres (26 in) in Toulouse). Sunshine averages around 1850 hours per year, or a little less than its neighbour of the Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarbes, which averages 1940 hours of sunshine per year. Fog is infrequent and does not persist much beyond noon. The lack of wind especially characterizes the climate of the Pau region. Strong winds are very rare, in general, winds are very low or zero.

This climate has helped Pau to become, at the end of the 19th century, a winter resort spot popular with the English, Russian and Brazilian bourgeoisie. In 1842 a British doctor, Alexander Taylor, attributed healing 'sedative' virtues to the Pau climate.

This mild and rather wet climate, is also an enhancement to the gardens, parks and public spaces of the city, and for plants from more exotic regions such as Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), originating in the Chinese mountains, but also for giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and laurel magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) of American origin.

Climate data for Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.5
Average high °C (°F) 11.0
Average low °C (°F) 2.1
Record low °C (°F) −14.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 94.4
Average precipitation days 11.5 10.3 10.4 13.1 12.8 9.7 7.9 8.3 8.5 11.1 10.9 11.0 125.4
Average relative humidity (%) 83 80 77 78 78 78 78 80 80 83 83 84 80.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 104.8 121.1 164.6 165.6 185.8 195.7 207.8 203.7 183.8 143.9 104.6 95.9 1,877.2
Source #1: Météo France[4][5]
Source #2: (humidity, 1961–1990)[6]



The location of Pau is shown on this map of the historical and cultural area of Gascony.

The origin of the name is uncertain. One tradition suggests it is a derivation of pal (fr. pieu), from the palisade around the original château. Another is that the name refers to a ford across the river administered by the church, the pious. According to Michel Grosclaude[7] and other onomasticians, more recent research suggests the pre-Indo-European root for a rockface was *pal or *bal, and that the name refers to Pau's position at the foot of the mountains. The palisade or pal, from the Latin palum, also has the same ancient basis but it is not under this meaning that formed the name of Pau, this can be compared to the Col de Pau in the Aspe Valley (1,942 metres (6,371 ft), Lescun) which has nothing to do with the city.

Its name in the Béarnese dialect is Pau.

The name of the town was recorded in the 12th century. The inhabitants of the city are known as paulins in Occitan, and palois in French. Their motto is Urbis palladium et gentis.

The footpath west from the Château
Rue Tran


Before the 10th century, there are no traces of occupation of the site on which the city is now built. Perhaps there were a few hovels or a modest hunting lodge, but surely nothing more important.

The city was built on a site with very special qualities. The Gave de Pau, which descends from the Pyrenees, was a river which was fairly difficult to cross, and for a distance of approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi), only three fords existed: from Nay to the east, from Orthez to the west and that of Pau, strategically located between the two. The northern extremity of a plateau, formed to a point, overlooks this ford of almost 80 metres (260 ft). In summary, it is an ideal natural location to control the passage and the arrivals from the Pyrenees, and a small monitoring station was built around the year 1000, a fort surrounded by a simple palisade.

The site was fortified in the 11th century[8] to control the ford across the Gave de Pau. It was built on the north bank, equidistant from Lescar, seat of the bishops, and from Morlaàs.

Until the 12th century, this fort was consolidated and some houses were combined there, together, in a small hamlet. The lords of Béarn then granted the status of viguerie (a small administrative district in the Middle Ages) to this new village which continued to expand gently. In Bearnese, the palisade was called Paü. Historians agree to this being the origin of the name of the city.

In the 13th century, new recognition of the importance and the expansion of Pau, which had become the town of Castelnau, with a bailli appointed by the viscounts of Béarn. At this time, the English settled in the southwest, while the sovereignty of Béarn passed to the powerful family of the counts of Foix. The allegiance of these going, according to the political interests of the moment, to the King of England and the Kingdom of France.

Gaston Fébus (descendant of the counts of Foix and one of the first iconic figures of Béarn), who was very attached to the independence of his small country. He began his major work to reinforce the strongholds of Béarn, including the Château of Pau where he finally settled.

Pau was made capital of Béarn in 1464, instead of Orthez. During the early 16th century, the Château de Pau became the residence of the Kings of Navarre, who were also viscounts of Béarn.

Pau is the only city in Europe that can boast of having witnessed two Kings at the origin of a dynasty, which is still the case in the 21st century: Henry IV of France born in 1553 House of Bourbon in Spain}) and Charles XIV John of Sweden, born in 1763.


Middle Ages

Pau was a castelnau founded at an unknown date, in the second half of the 11th or the very beginning of the 12th century,[9] to control a fording of the Gave de Pau which was used for the passage of the shepherds in transhumance between the mountains of Ossau and pasture of the plain of the Pont-Long. A castle was built, overlooking the north bank, at equal distance from Lescar, seat of the bishops, and from Morlaàs, capital of the Viscounts of Béarn.

In 1188, Gaston VI assembled his cour majour there, predecessor of the conseil souverain and roughly equivalent to the House of lords. Gaston VII added a third tower in the 13th century. Gaston Fébus (Gaston III of Foix and Gaston X of Béarn) added a brick donjon (keep), known as la tour Billère [the Tower of Billère].

16th–18th century

The Béarnese flag, floating in the Pyrénées

In 1464, Gaston IV of Foix-Béarn, after he married the Infanta Eleanor of Aragon, transferred his Court of Orthez to Pau.[10] Pau thus became the fourth historic capital of Béarn, after Lescar, Morlaàs and Orthez. The city had a municipal charter; fairs took place, like the Béarn states. He transformed the curtain walls of his castle home.

In 1512, it became the capital of the Kings of Navarre, who were refugees north of the Pyrenees, after the capture of Pamplona by the Spaniards. In 1520, it had a sovereign council and a chamber of accounts.

In 1527, Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre and sovereign viscountcy of Béarn, married Marguerite of Angoulême, sister of Francis I of France: She transformed the château in the Renaissance style and created beautiful gardens.

In 1553, his daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, gave birth to Henry III of Navarre by singing a song of Béarn to the Virgin Mary, so that the future Henry IV was "neither fearful nor balked." She had crossed into France to ensure her son would be born there. The baby's lips were moistened with the local Jurançon wine and rubbed with garlic shortly after birth. When Henry IV left Pau to become King of France, he remarked to local notables that he was not giving Béarn to France, but giving France to Béarn.

Parlement de Navarre

The troops of Charles IX took the city, but Jeanne d'Albret took over in 1569. She massacred the Catholic leaders captured in Orthez.

Catherine of Bourbon, sister of Henri IV, governed Béarn in his place.

In 1619, Pau revolted. Louis XIII occupied it and, after receiving the submission of the fortified town of Navarrenx, pronounced the attachment of Béarn and Navarre to France by the edict of 20 October 1620. It thus transforms the sovereign Council of Béarn in the Parliament of Navarre, joining the future courses of Pau and Saint-Palais.

Pau had a new enclosure in 1649, and then a university in 1722.

King Charles XIV of Sweden, the first royal Bernadotte, was born in Pau in the 18th century.

On 14 October 1790, it was declared, after Navarrenx, the new capital of the Department of Basses-Pyrénées. This status was removed on 11 October 1795 in favor of Oloron, then made permanent on 5 March 1796.

19th century

A panorama of the château and the Gave de Pau, around 1870

Napoleon expressed his interest and helped to save the château, which became a prison for a time. In 1838, Louis-Philippe did boldly restore it, to highlight the medieval and Renaissance character. Napoleon III added a double tower framing a false entry, to the West. He also added streets of Belle Époque architecture, before the fashion transferred to Biarritz.

After the July Monarchy, Pau became, between 1830 and 1914, had the most famous climate and sports resort in Western Europe. In 1842, the Scottish physician Alexander Taylor (1802–1879) advocated Pau for a winter cure. The success of his work was important and Pau became a popular holiday resort for the British. In 1876, there were 28,908 inhabitants of Pau. The English settled there and took advantage of the first golf on the continent, of fox hunting (Pau fox hunt), and held races at the Pont-Long Racecourse. From the 1870s the Boulevard du Midi was gradually extended to the east and west to form the current Boulevard des Pyrénées, the lavish Winter Palace – with a palmarium; and internationally renowned hotels, the Gassion and the France, which offered a majestic and luxurious setting for concerts and receptions to take place.

The tram factory at the start of the 20th century

From 1894, Pau was served by a network of horse tramways. A few years later, electric traction was commissioned by the Béarnaise Society of Urban Streetcars. The network consisted of three lines, with a length of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). It disappeared in 1931. The town of Pau was also served by the Pau-Oloron-Mauléon railway (POM), whose main station was found at the Place de la République. Three lines served Monein, Pontacq and Lembeye. Steam traction was used on the network, which disappeared in December 1931.

While the upper town thrived because of the coming of the rich European tourists, the lower city specialised in industry. Many small structures gradually developed at the foot of the château, the production focused on textiles and the food industry. Many of them marked this industrial fabric, such as Courriades dyes,[11] the Heïd flour mill and the tram factory.[12]

Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of the American president, also lived in Pau for several years in the late 1870s.[13]

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pau was still a resort town where European nobility spent the winter. Good English, American, Russian, Spanish or Prussian society met in the Béarnaise city. Many public amenities were from this period, including the Pau Funicular to connect the station to the upper town. Next to these public amenities, wealthy foreign visitors were building villas to improve the conditions of their stay. First built in the centre of town, these residences spread out more and more to enjoy the great outdoors and popular views of the Pyrenees. Between 1850 and 1910, many residences were thus built and still evoke the splendour of this period, today. This golden period of climate tourism in Pau stopped abruptly at the outbreak of World War I.

The first balloon flights took place in Pau in 1844 and the first flights by plane, from 1909, the year in which the Wright brothers transferred to Pau (on the moor of Pont-Long, in commune of Lescar). They had originally initiated a first aviation school at Le Mans (Sarthe Department), formed of three student pilots, who they were committed to train in France. Pau alone hosted seven global aircraft manufacturers until 1914 and became the world capital of aviation. The military aviation school, which trained the flying aces of World War I, then the fighter school of France, settled there. French aviators Thénault, Simon, Paul Codos, Georges Bellenger Bellenger, Garros, Nungesser, Guynemer, and the Béarnais aviators Artigau and Mace, among many others, and finally the American aviators Lufbery, Thaw, Chapman, Prince and the McConnell brothers, were among the most illustrious who flew there.

Pau hosted the 18th régiment d'infanterie, 1st and 18th Parachute Chasseur Regimen (parachute regiment) who were stationed in the town. All participated in the various conflicts of the 20th century. The 18th RCP was dissolved in 1961, due to having contributed to the putsch of the generals of Algiers. It had previously participated in the May 1958 crisis which had ended the Fourth Republic. The 1st RCP remained in barracks in 1983 in Idron camp when one of its elements was struck in Beirut by the attack of the Drakkar building, which had 58 victims among its troops.

During World War II, the Continental Hotel collected many refugees, including Jews hounded by Vichy and the Nazis, even when the soldiers of the Wehrmacht requisitioned two floors of the hotel.[14]

From 1947, during the four mandates of Mayor Louis Sallenave, the town of Pau experienced strong growth. In 1957, exploitation of the Lacq gas field, discovered in 1951, gave new momentum to the region with the industrial development of Béarn and the Lacq area (SNPA, EDF, Pechiney and Rhône-Poulenc being the most important employers), the population of the town doubled in 20 years. Major infrastructure projects were carried out, such as the construction of several schools representing more than 100 classes, creation of the Pau-Uzein airport in 1955 (now the Pau Pyrénées Airport) to modernise the old Pau-Pont-Long airfield (in the commune of Lescar), creation of social housing (all of the Ousse des Bois in 1961, and Dufau Terrace from 1962), creation of the exhibition centre, the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour and construction of a second bridge over the River Gave in Jurançon. A vast town planning scheme allowed the extension of the commune to the north through the coulée verte [green corridor]. The configuration of the city shortly moved from the end of the 1960s. The fame and prestige of the city increased thanks to the conference of the Indochinese States from June to November 1950,[15] visits of Heads of State such as president Charles de Gaulle in February 1959 and the first Secretary of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, travelling in Lacq in 1960.

André Labarrère, mayor from 1971 to 2006, worked towards a first step of the beautification of the city. Within its recent mandates, on the outskirts, the university was expanding and the Pau-Pyrénées was one of the first in France to develop a fibre-optic network, infrastructure offering a very high-speed internet access both to individuals and companies. New facilities were created, including sports, such as the Zénith de Pau}, the Palais des Sports, the Jaï Alaï, and the artificial whitewater arena. The city acquired an important centre of health. The racecourse and the airport (depending on CCI) were renovated. The centre of town also saw significant upheavals with the rehabilitation of the Palais Beaumont and the construction of a new private commercial centre named Centre Bosquet. Pau finally embarked on the pedestrianisation of its centre with the reconfiguration of its bus network, the renovation of the Place Clemenceau, the central square of Pau, and the modernisation of the Palais des Pyrénées, a new shopping centre in the city centre, near to the Place Clemenceau. New underground parking compensated for the removal of 400 parking spaces on the surface; also two underground car parks gained redesigned access. Finally, a media library was created in 2012 in the Les Halles quarter.

21st century

In 2008, at the end of a bitter political struggle, which included François Bayrou, Martine Lignières-Cassou became mayor of Pau. During this term, she included the rebuilding of the water stadium and making the Rue Joffre pedestrian. She also allowed the realisation of the City of the Pyrénées which brought different associations related to Pyreneeism into one place.

In 2014, François Bayrou became mayor, after standing against David Habib in the election. Bayrou was clearly ahead in the second round of voting.


  • According to Paul Raymond (archivist) in his Topographical dictionary of the Béarn-Basque country (p. 133) Pau arms are blazoned:
    • Azure to a fence of three argent footed pales, surmounted by a peacock spreading its tail or, accompanied at point and inside two cows facing and crowned the same; the chief also or charged with a natural tortoise shell surmounted by a Royal Crown closed azure enhanced of or, accompanied by the letter capital H dexter and sinister with the Roman numeral IV also azure
  • Remarks
    • These arms are "rebus" canting arms (pau means "Palisade" in Bearnese), and of "approximation" form (the peacock said as pavon or pau [paw]).
    • The Viscount of Foix-Béarn on who Pau depended, his arms are inspired by the three pales of Foix and the two cows of Béarn.
    • In the blazon, the expression (with...) "the Roman numeral IV" is improper (IV is a number consisting of two Roman numerals) best would be: (with...) "of an IV in Roman numerals."
  • According to Malte-Brun in The Illustrated France from 1882, they are blazoned:
    • Azure three pales and drawsheets of argent gathered by a fess of the same, middle pale surmounted with a peacock spreading its tail at chief, and two cows faced argent at point.
  • Remarks
    • The chief, added in 1829, is not mentioned in his Illustrated France which dates back to 1882.
    • Cows here are not crowned, so more resemble those of the arms of the Lords of Béarn, also not crowned.
    • The peacock is not of specified colour. It was probably "au naturel". Found sometimes emblazoned thus for the current coat of arms.
  • According to Paul Raymond in his Topographical dictionary Béarn-Basque country (p. 133) the old arms were
    • Argent three pales of gules with a peacock spreading its tail the same perched on the middle.
  • According to Gaston of Breuille (of Pau, 1896) notes the ancient arms granted in 1482, by François-Phoebus, King of Navarre, were:
    • Argent, three pales of gules, the peacock spreading its tail azure perched on the middle.''
  • Remarks:
    • These blazons are certainly incomplete or defective, because it is unclear how a peacock (or whatever it is) could be placed on a pale that by definition goes to the top of the shield. The contradiction for the peacock colour is secondary ("De gules" – "of the same" as the pales – for Raymond or "Azure" for Du Breuille)
    • However A. Fourcade in his Picturesque and historic album of the Pyrenees (p. 9) described, in layman's terms, these arms: three pales, on one of which, namely the middle one is perched a peacock spreading its tail. granted by François-Phoebus (but in 1442 this time!)
    • It seems that in fact it is not "pal-pièce honorable" [pale-honorable part], but a "pieux" [pious] furniture, which already foreshadows the color, the pale drawsheets formed at the foot which make up the barrier of the present coat of arms.

Politics and administration

Second city in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Pau is the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and the chief town of six cantons (even if only five of them bear its name):

Municipal administration

Below is the sharing of seats on the Pau City Council:[16]

Group President Seats Status
MoDemUDIUMP François Bayrou 40 majority
PS David Habib 9 opposition

List of mayors

Hôtel de ville de Pau
List of mayors of Pau
Start End Name Party Other details
1947 1971 Louis Sallenave Centre right No dual mandate
1971 2006 André Labarrère PS Deputy from 1967 to 1968, then from 1973 to 2001,
Senator from 2001 to 2006,
President of the Communauté d'agglomération de Pau-Pyrénées,
Minister from 1981 to 1986,
President of the Aquitaine Regional Council from 1979 to 1981,
Vice-president of the National Assembly from 1973 to 1974,
President of the Eco-Mayors Association from 1989 to 1999
2006 2008 Yves Urieta PS President of the Communauté d'agglomération de Pau-Pyrénées
2008 2014 Martine Lignières-Cassou PS Deputy of the first constituency of Pyrénées-Atlantiques
President of the Communauté d'agglomération de Pau-Pyrénées
2014 In progress François Bayrou MoDem President de la Communauté d'agglomération de Pau-Pyrénées
Former Minister of National Education
former President of the General Council

André Labarrère died of cancer on 16 May 2006. He was succeeded by Yves Urieta, elected by the municipal council on 30 May 2006. In the meantime, the interim was ensured by Martine Lignières-Cassou, First Assistant and Deputy of the First Constituency of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.


The Hotel de France, headquarters of the metropolitan area

The town of Pau is part of five intercommunal structures:[17]

Pau hosts the headquarters of ten intercommunal groups:

Local taxes

The rates applicable to local taxes for 2008 were:

International relations

Pau is twinned with:[18]

Population and society


Pau and the agglomeration population

The communal population of Pau amounts to 81,166 inhabitants, according to the 2010 census (legal populations of 1 January 2013). The Communauté d 'agglomération of Pau-Pyrénées has about 150,000 inhabitants and is, by number, the second settlement of Aquitaine after the Urban Community of Bordeaux and the Agglomération Côte Basque-Adour.

The towns of Billère, Lons and Lescar are the first three communes in the agglomeration after Pau (they have approximately 35,000 inhabitants combined).

Demographic evolution

In 2012, the commune had 78,506 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known through the population censuses carried out in the town since 1793. From the 21st century, communes with more than 10,000 inhabitants have a census every year as a result of a sample survey, unlike the other municipalities which have a real census every five years.[note 5][note 6]

Historical population
From 1962 to 1999: Population without double counting; for the years following: municipal population.
Source: Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1999[20] then INSEE from 2004[21]

The urban unit (2010) includes 197,611 inhabitants and the urban area (2011) has 240,898 inhabitants. Pau is the most populous city of the Department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and the second of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region after Bordeaux.


Kindergartens and primary schools

  • Groupe scolaire Henri IV
  • Groupe scolaire Trianon
  • Groupe scolaire Stanislas-Lavigne
  • Groupe scolaire Nandina-Park
  • Groupe scolaire Les Fleurs
  • Groupe scolaire Gaston-Phœbus
  • Groupe scolaire du Buisson
  • Groupe scolaire Maréchal-Bosquet
  • Groupe scolaire des Lilas
  • Groupe scolaire de l'Hippodrome (K)
  • Groupe scolaire Lapuyade
  • Groupe scolaire Jean-Sarrailh
  • Groupe scolaire Bouillerce
  • Groupe scolaire des Quatre coins du monde
  • Groupe scolaire Pierre et Marie-Curie
  • Groupe scolaire Marancy
  • Groupe scolaire Léon-Say
  • Groupe scolaire Guillemin-Les-Lauriers
  • Groupe scolaire Marca
  • Private schools
  • École Sainte-Ursule (K / P)
  • École Joyeux Béarn (K / P)
  • École Saint-Maur (K / P)
  • École Saint-François d'Assise (K / P)
  • École Saint-Dominique (K / P)
  • École Immaculée-Conception – Beau-Frêne (K / P)
  • Escòla Calandreta (K / P)
  • International School of Béarn (Morlaas) (K / P)
  • Schools of "Travelling people"
  • École des Voyageurs (P)

Legend: K: Kindergarten / P: Primary school


  • Public colleges
    • Collège Clermont (S)
    • Collège Jeanne d'Albret (S)
    • Collège Marguerite de Navarre (S)
  • Private colleges
    • Collège Immaculée Conception – Beau Frêne (S / T)
    • Collège Saint-Dominique (S / T)
    • Collègi Calandreta de Gasconha (S)
    • Collège Sainte-Ursule
    • Collège Saint-Maur

Legend: S: Secondary College / T: Technical college

  • Public high schools
    • Lycée Honoré-Baradat (V)
    • Lycée Louis-Barthou (G)
    • Lycée Saint Cricq (G / V)
    • Lycée Saint-John-Perse (G)
  • Private high schools
    • Lycée Immaculée Conception – Beau Frêne (G / V)
    • Lycée Saint-Dominique

Legend: G: General education high school / V: Vocational high school

Higher education


The city of Pau has a long academic tradition, as a university was established in Pau in 1722. Now, Pau is the second student city of Aquitaine. The city has 17,000 students and 3,900 researchers. It has a multidisciplinary university (law, economics, sciences, social sciences and humanities), an IUT, an IAE, several schools of engineers, business schools and art schools.

The University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour (UPPA) had 11,200 students, in May 2012, spread across five sites: Pau, Anglet, Bayonne, Mont-de-Marsan (Landes) and Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées). Its location exceeds the strict framework of the Academy of Bordeaux and overlaps somewhat with that of the Academy of Toulouse. The University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour had 25 laboratories and 650 researchers in 2007.

The university group and Pyrénées Oceanes Research Campus unites the Groupe ESC Pau, five schools of engineers (ENIT Tarbes, ENSGTI, EISTI, ESTIA Bidart-Bayonne, ISA BTP), the Institute of Business Administration (IAE) and the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour (UPPA), with 15,000 students. The Pyrénées Oceanes Campus takes a European dimension and will soon join the University of Aragon, the University of Pamplona and several Spanish business and engineering schools. University President is Philippe Lafontaine, Director of the ESC Pau.

Colleges and other institutions

Research centres

The university has 34 teams of research including 11 teams associated with the CNRS and INRA team. Some groups of public or private research teams:

The Centre is the home of master students of private law, and doctoral students in private law in partnership with the graduate school SSH 481.



Paramedical training institutes

Private clinics and centres

The Centre Hospitalier de Pau has contributed to the establishment of an important centre of health by enabling the consolidation of different private institutions close to the hospital area:

It also hosts the site of the French Establishment of Blood (145, Avenue de Buros).

The Marzet Polyclinic, situated on Boulevard Alsace-Lorraine, was bought by the Polyclinic of Navarre in 2013. The new arrangement has 400 beds and employs nearly 700 people.[22]


Pau, became the historic capital of Béarn in 1464, offering the gastronomic specialities of the southwest and typical Béarnese or Palois dishes:

Restaurants and bars

Pau, at the centre, has more than 160 restaurants, from the old quarters (Château, Hédas), up to the outskirts. The Béarnaise capital has several quarters which are particularly animated night with lots of bars, the quarters of the triangle, the Boulevard des Pyrénées and also Rue des Orphelines are included.


The town of Pau is marked by a strong cultural identity, with the presence of a French-Occitan bilingual school (calandreta Paulina) (90 students) in Pau and one in the metropolitan area in Lescar (60 students), by a living practice of Béarnese and the success of the Occitan cultural groups. The city has, however, received foreign influences of major importance (English, Spanish, Russian, Brazilian) and remains very open to the outside with a high English student community, along with the presence of Dutch, Portuguese, Spaniards and Moroccans. Near Dax, Bayonne and Biarritz, the Pau people have a love of city ferias. The bandas, bodegas (drinking places with typical animation) and Béarnese singing groups are numerous including Nadau, Lo Cèu de Pau and Balaguera. Since 2005, the city hosts the festival Hestiv'oc which is the grand festival of Occitania. The University of Pau, Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, also often hosts concerts and cultural events.

The Association of the Palois and Béarnese in Paris, La Garbure, was founded around 1890 by a Béarnese pharmacist who went to the capital to open a shop on Boulevard Haussmann. The history of this association, which has never had official status, is transmitted only orally. However, the original spirit remains the same. The "expatriates" meet two or three times a year in a friendly atmosphere to speak of the country around a good meal. Without issue, and without political dimension, although politicians like Louis Barthou, François Bayrou and others have never neglected this "sounding board" which also brings together celebrities from entertainment, from information and from gastronomy.


The Béarnese state language, before 1789, was a Gascon dialect of Occitan. For the anecdote, there is an English-Béarnese dictionary for the use of the British who were vacationing in Pau. The word caddie was formed at Golf de Pau (Billère) from the Béarnese capdèth, according to a boy who carried golf clubs.

The Ostau Bearnés is a Pau organization bringing together all who practice or teach the language.[23]

Centres and cultural facilities

The Palais Beaumont


Edgar Degas, Le Bureau du coton à la Nouvelle-Orléans (The cotton office in New Orleans), 1873, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Pau
Entrance to the Musée Bernadotte, on Rue Tran

Exhibition spaces

The Pavillon des Arts

Theatres and orchestral formations

The Comédie des Mutins in Lescar, in the Pau agglomeration, can be added to this list.


The trial of Sent Pancard during the Carnival Biarnés

The city of Pau is home to many festivals throughout the year, including:



The region is covered by three local newspapers dependent on Groupe Sud Ouest:




City has always been very sporty, Pau has many important facilities and several high level sport clubs.



The whitewater stadium
Palais des sports
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sports venues in Pau.

For amateur joggers the Gave de Pau river bank footpath is a most valued itinerary, which starts near the castle and passes along Pau's golf course heading west. Another spot is Pont-Long wood north of the town.


Since 1930, Pau has become a mainstay of the Tour de France cycling race, thanks both to its geographical location and to its marvelous infrastructure. Pau hosted its 63rd stage in 2010, and only one other city besides Paris has done better. The 2010 Tour visited Pau on three occasions: First as a passing town, second time as a finish, and the third time as a departure town on the way to the Col du Tourmalet. Pau is behind Bordeaux as the town of the province to have had most stages in the history of the Tour. Pau will receive the Tour for the 67th time in 2015.[34]

Perhaps the highest-profile sporting event is the Étoiles de Pau ("Stars of Pau"). Held annually in October, it is one of only six annual competitions in eventing that receive the highest rating of CCI**** from equestrianism's world governing body, the FEI. It's also the only event of this level in France.

In 2008, between 11–23 August, Pau hosted the 83rd French Chess Championship. The men's event was won by Étienne Bacrot, on tie-break from Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while the women's event resulted in a victory for Sophie Milliet. Thirty-six players took part. Pau was previously the Championship venue in 1943 and 1969.

The Féminine on the Boulevard des Pyrénées

Other events include:

Pau Grand Prix

Main article: Pau Grand Prix
Átila Abreu races his Mücke Motorsport Formula Three car on the Pau circuit in 2005
The Grand Prix Historique

Pau held the first race to be called a Grand Prix in 1901. After that the 1928 French Grand Prix was held in nearby Saint-Gaudens, Pau also wanted to arrange the race and in 1930 the French Grand Prix was held on a Le Mans-type track outside the city with Philippe Étancelin winning for Bugatti. Pau returned to the calendar in 1933 with a track in the town centre inspired by Monaco.

The track, 2,769 metres (1.721 mi) long, is winding and has remained largely unchanged. The first curve is the station hairpin. After that the road climbs on the Avenue Léon Say, alongside the stone viaduct that carries the Boulevard de Pyrenées, to Pont Oscar. A tunnel is followed by the narrow hairpin at the Louis Barthou high school that leads the track into the demanding Parc Beaumont section at the top of the town. After the Casino garden and another hairpin, the track winds back to the start along the Avenue Lacoste.

Pau traditionally opened the season but mid-February for the 1933 GP meant the race took place in a snowstorm with slush. After a one-year pause the race was back in 1935 with Tazio Nuvolari dominating in an Alfa Romeo P3 entered by Scuderia Ferrari. The 1936 race saw the only major victory for the Maserati V8-R1, driven by Ètancelin. In 1937 the race was part of the French sports car series with Jean-Pierre Wimille dominating, running three to four seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field. GP racing was back in 1938 and Pau became a test track for Mercedes-Benz before the Grandes Epreuves.

The 1938 race saw René Dreyfus' Delahaye sensationally beating the Mercedes-Benz team. In 1939 Mercedes wasn't to be taken by surprise, Hermann Lang leading the team to a double victory. After World War II Pau continued as a non-championship Formula One race until 1963. Thereafter the race was run to Formula Two rules until 1985, and thereafter by its replacement, Formula 3000. In 1999, the event again changed, with Formula Three cars racing. Finally, in 2007, the race became a round of the World Touring Car Championship.

The Grand Prix de Pau Historique is organized on the Circuit de Pau-Ville once a year, a week before or after the modern Grand Prix, this event brings together vehicles with animated racing of the past.


From the 1950s to the 1990s Pau depended on the production of natural gas and sulphur which were discovered nearby at Lacq. In the 21st century, the mainstays of the Béarn area are the oil business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter turboshaft engines manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture. Pau was the birthplace of Elf Aquitaine, which has now become a part of Total. Halliburton has an office in Pau.[35]

Pau is the second economic hub of Aquitaine, after Bordeaux. A university city, it has concentrated several industrial centres and centres of important research in the fields of petroleum engineering and geosciences, petrochemistry and chemistry, food, automotive, aeronautics and computer science.

Pau benefits from its central location in the region of the Pays de l'Adour and its location between two major areas of population: Bayonne/Anglet/Biarritz (160,000 inhabitants) and the area of Tarbes/Lourdes (110,000 inhabitants) and secondary, more diffuse, areas: South of Landes/Dax (90,000 inhabitants) and the areas of Auch (40,000 inhabitants), Orthez/Lacq (30,000 inhabitants) and Oloron (20,000 inhabitants).

The municipality is partially within the Ossau-Iraty AOC area.


Arrius helicopter engine

Pau experienced an important economic boom based on the discovery of the giant deposit of natural gas in Lacq. Discovered in the 1950s (by engineer Jean Féger), it was then the largest terrestrial deposit of gas in Europe and helped France to be self-sufficient in gas for almost thirty years. The Société Nationale des Pétroles d'Aquitaine (SNPA) was born at Lacq in 1941, after merger with ELF in 1976 it became part of the Elf Aquitaine group, then Total during its integration into the Group TotalFinaElf (in Lacq, known now the SNEAP, Société Nationale Elf Aquitaine Production).[36] Oil and focussed businesses (Total Exploration Production France, Total SA, Total infrastructure Gaz France (TIGF), Schlumberger, Halliburton) and chemical (Arkema, Air Liquide) settled in Pau or the surrounding area (in Lacq at the Chemparc chemical park but also in Pardies and Artix).

The scientific centre of Total in Pau is one research centre for exploration and production of gas and oil in Europe, more than 2,000 people, including 900 doctors and engineers in the geosciences, resulting from the merger of ELF Aquitaine and Total.[37] Research in the geosciences is also based on university partnerships/companies notably with the Federation of research applied to petroleum engineering (IPRA), consisting of teams of research CNRS/University of Pau and the Pays de l'Adour (UPPA) and Total (the IPRA represents 130 teachers, researchers and beneficiaries, an annual budget of 1.5 million euros and six scientific Masters). Research and engineering in the geosciences are also present through specialised companies (CGG, Paradigm Geophysical, TTI, VERITAS, etc.) implanted, for the most part, on the site of the Hélioparc technopole and specialised training centres (IFP Training, NExT-Schlumberger, Wellstaff, Baker Hughes, etc.).

The area of Pau-Lacq is also geared towards fine chemicals (Acetex, now closed) and new materials. High-tech composite materials and nanomaterials have gradually been developed in Béarn with the Carbon Fibre Company (SOFICAR) and the GRL (Group of research of Lacq), one of the main centres of research of ARKEMA.

Industry has also developed recently around new energy investments and other energies: Bio-fuels (manufacturing site of bioethanol from the AB Bioenergy France Company, €150M investment), biomass (cellulose) and the production of electricity from gas (production site of SNET, investment of €400M). One driver of uptake and CO2 sequestration process is also underway (industrial investment of €100M).

Ultimately, these activities for fine chemicals and specialties, will ensure the reconversion of the traditional activities of extraction from the Lacq area.

The entire energy complex (Chemparc) now represents 12,000 direct jobs.

Pau is part of the global competitiveness cluster of Aerospace Valley, in the aerospace sector, with Toulouse and Bordeaux. The aviation industry is represented by major industrial groups (Safran, Turbomeca, Messier Dowty, Examéca, MAP, etc.), and a significant number of subcontractors. With Biarritz/Bayonne (Dassault) and Tarbes (EADS Socata, Tarmac), the area of the Pays de l'Adour is strongly oriented towards aeronautics (12,000 jobs). These firms are involved on the Airbus programmes of A380/A300/A330/A320 (landing gear, carbon fibre, welding, aerostructures), Eurocopter (engines, machining parts), Boeing (landing gear) and Embraer. Pau also hosts the service centre of the French Army (ALAT) Tiger helicopters. The airport area in particular (aeropole Pau Pyrénées) is expanding and includes aeronautical and automotive subcontractors.

The pharmaceutical sector is growing and is represented by Pierre Fabre, Boiron, Sanofi and Finorga companies. A bio-health centre grouping of industrial pharmacy and biology was created in 2006 around the Pierre Fabre and DBI enterprises.

The Pau economy is also based on the agri-food industry in the fields of maize, processed products (dairy products, canning, meat) and the wine industry (Group Euralis, Candia, Bongrain, 3A, Michaud and Miot). With 400 researchers, Pau is the first European research centre for maize-growing.

The electronics and electrical engineering sector also has several industrial sites in the Pau agglomeration (Legrand, Arelec, Aquitaine electronics, Siemens).


Pau also concentrates the regional headquarters of many service companies as capital of the Pays de l'Adour region: The banking sector (CA Pyrénées Gascogne, Banque Pouyanne), insurance (MIF, MSA), construction (Groupe MAS, Cance) and business services (APR, YSA, Vitalicom).

ICT businesses have experienced an important development with the deployment of optical fibre in the agglomeration and the implantation of companies specialising in information technology, networks and image processing. The technopoles [technological hubs] of Helioparc (close to the University, 1,000 jobs), Pau Cité Multimédia (north of the town, 700 jobs) and the @LLEES (Villa Ridgway built in 1905, former headquarters of Elf) concentrate a large number of systems integration and computer engineering information technology consulting schools. Pau should, ultimately, be fully connected to a fibre optic network (Pau Broadband Country) of the agglomeration of Pau-Pyrénées communities which will allow a data transfer rate of 10 to 100 megabits per second (and 1 gigabit per second for some companies) and applications of types such as VoIP, online services and webTV. Pau is the third city in Europe, after Stockholm and Milan, to have developed a very high-speed fibre optic network. The project has cost 30 million euros and has been spread over five years. This network has encouraged the location of French and foreign companies to Pau, which are specialised in imaging, services or design online.

Pau combines all the functions and administrative headquarters of a regional agglomeration: General Council of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Court of Appeal for the departments under the purview of Pau (Pyrenees Atlantiques, Landes and Gers), the regional hospital, Chamber of commerce and industry of Pau Béarn, Chamber of Trade of Pyrénées Atlantiques, Chamber of Agriculture of Pyrénées Atlantiques, SDIS 64, Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour. The Chamber of commerce and industry of Pau Béarn manages the Pau-Pyrénées airport, the Groupe ESC Pau, the consular hotel, the CNPC and the IPC de Pau.

In 2006, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pau Béarn had 11,000 industrial and commercial companies registered as headquartered in Pau.

Pau is also a city of congress, symposia and business travelers with infrastructure allowing it to host national and international events. The Palais Beaumont Congress Centre, a casino, a park of exhibitions and 4-star hotels (Parc Beaumont Hotel, Villa Navarre Hotel) all help to provide this infrastructure.

The town of Pau is home to many corps of the army. The 5th regiment of combat helicopters (RHC), which was the first regiment of France to be equipped with the new Eurocopter Tiger, the school of airborne troops (ETAP), the staff of the special forces land brigade, its air component (DAOS), and the central military administrative archive (Bernadotte Barracks) office. The defence sector represents a little more than 2,000 direct jobs in Pau.


The view from the Boulevard des Pyrénées

The town of Pau is located 45 minutes from the Pyrenees and its ski resorts. It is a holiday resort for tourists to the Pyrenees (hiking, climbing, skiing) and Spain. Located near the Basque and Landes coasts (an hour's drive), it is possible to practice water sports (surfing, diving, sailing, etc.).

Pau is the gateway to the five Béarnese valleys (the Ossau Valley, Vallée d'Aspe, Vallée de Barétous, the Vallée de l'Ouzom and Vath-Vielha) that receives winter sports tourists (the ski resorts of Gourette, Artouste, Le Somport and La Pierre Saint-Martin), spas (Eaux-Bonnes and Eaux-Chaudes) and green tourism (white-water sports, cultural and gastronomic tourism).

Its location at the foot of the Pyrenees gives Pau an exceptional panorama of the chain of the Pyrenees, in particular from the famous Boulevard des Pyrénées which is a long avenue of 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi), facing the Pyrenees mountain range.

Pau is the most beautiful view of Earth from the world as Naples is the most beautiful view of sea.
 Said by Lamartine, of Pau's unique mountain panorama

Pau, a former royal town and capital of Béarn, is also a city of cultural tourism and important business (Congress, conferences, notably in the Palais Beaumont). The city, a former climatic health resort, also hosts a casino (the Casino de Pau).

The city is historically closely linked to the United Kingdom and remains popular with the British on holiday. The British discovered Pau and its climate, and left their imprint when Wellington left a garrison there in 1814.[33] He defeated Marshal Soult at Orthez (some 40 km (25 mi) to the north-west) on his way into France from Spain towards the end of the Peninsular War. Vacationing British began arriving before the railway established the Boulevard des Pyrenées. The first full 18-hole golf course in Europe,[38] created by people from Scotland, and in fact located at Billère, was laid out in 1856–1860 and is still in existence, and also a real tennis court. Spanish people are also very present in the city, as well as Portuguese and Moroccans (consulates of Spain and Portugal). The Germans and Dutch, attracted by the climate of Pau and its heritage, are also more and more numerous.

Learn more:



Gare SNCF de Pau (Pau SNCF railway station)

The railway station Gare de Pau offers connections to Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse and Paris, and several regional destinations.

Two railway construction projects are under consideration: the extension and renovation of the line rail network France current online high-speed TGV from Bordeaux to Spain via the east of Landes (which would put Pau at about three hours from Paris) and the reopening of the cross-border link Pau-Canfranc (Spain) linking Pau to Zaragoza.


Pau-Pyrénées International Airport

The international airport of Pau-Pyrénées, located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the north-west in the commune of Uzein, is connected directly to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Paris-Orly, as well as airports in Marseille, Lyon, London, Southampton and Amsterdam, among other destinations. In 2009, it recorded 690,000 passengers, a decrease of more than 15%, making it the third busiest airport in Aquitaine after Bordeaux and Biarritz airports.



The Funiculaire de Pau, opened in 1908, provides, free of charge, a link between the city centre and Boulevard des Pyrénées to the railway station in the valley. After a year of refurbishment to standard, service resumed on 25 November 2006. It carries an average of 500,000 passengers per year. It works every day and its hours are Monday to Saturday, from 6:45 am to 9:40 pm and Sunday from 1:30 pm to 8:50 pm.


The free shuttle bus, Coxitis, circles the city centre

The Société des Transports de agglomération Paloise (STAP) or IDELIS bus network,[40] operates 13 urban bus routes, serving Pau and the adjoining communes of Billère, Jurançon, Gelos, Mazères-Lezons, Lescar, Lons, Bizanos, Gan, Ousse, Sendets, Lée, Idron, Artigueloutan, Uzein, Morlaàs, Serres-Castet and Aressy. A free shuttle bus service, Coxitis, circles the city centre at brief intervals from early morning to early evening.

The main stops are at Pôle Bosquet and also at the markets, the Place de Verdun, the SNCF railway station and the Auchan shopping centre.

The connections between the departmental and regional routes are at the Pôle Bosquet, since August 2006:

The city is engaged in a Bus à haut niveau de service [Bus to high level of service] (BHNS) project for a first route, the railway station to the hospital. Work started towards the end of 2014.[41]


Pau has a heritage which stretches from the 12th to the 21st century, which one can discover through numerous sites and monuments, of which the most famous is the castle of Henri IV.

Religious monuments

Main Catholic churches

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Religious buildings in Pau.

Outstanding Catholic chapels

The chapel of the Convent of Réparatrices

Anglican and Protestant churches

Other religious buildings

Pau has a Russian Orthodox Church, a mosque, a synagogue and a number of smaller churches such as St-Jean-Baptiste, Sainte-Bernadette and Sainte-Thérèse.

Civil monuments

Until the 18th century

Main article: Château de Pau

The Château de Pau dominates the Gave de Pau. Its two oldest towers date from the 12th century. The quadrangular tower of brick was raised by Sicard de Lordat in the 14th century. Thus constituted fortress was turned into a Renaissance palace by Marguerite d'Angoulême and then restored under Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III. In summary, the castle was fortress of the Viscounts of Béarn, Castle of Fébus, birthplace of the good King Henry IV (Nouste Enric) and royal residence in the Renaissance.

A first defensive tower desired below the castle by Gaston Fébus, then called the "Tour du Moulin" [tower of the mill] for a time, was built along a water channel operating the mill of the castle as early as the 15th century. The Tour de la Monnaie [Money Tower] was named according to Henri d'Albret who, in 1554, used it as a mint. Today containing a lift within, it was used for the coinage of money until the French Revolution.

Its small garden was tended by Marie Antoinette when she spent her summers in the city. Napoleon used it as a holiday home during his period in power. The château has been designated as a French historical monument and holds a collection of tapestries.

Close to the castle, the Parlement de Navarre [Parliament of Navarre], so named, saw its origins in the annexation of Béarn to the Crown of France under Louis XIII in 1620. Though, in fact, he established himself in a very old courthouse that had been built as early as 1585 in place of the house of the Bishop of Lescar. Burned down in 1716, it was rebuilt but quickly abandoned in favour of the current courthouse. The General Council settled there and it still holds its sessions.

Main article: Lycée Louis-Barthou

Lycée Louis Barthou, originally a Jesuit college, was built in Louis XIII's appeal, probably between 1622 and 1645, for the restoration of Catholicism. It has illustrious alumni such as Lautréamont, Louis Barthou, Saint-John Perse, Pierre Bourdieu, Daniel Balavoine and Henri Emmanuelli.

The Birthplace of Bernadotte Museum is today of particular interest to Swedish tourists, it dates from the 18th century. Bernadotte was a French non-commissioned officer who was born in Pau and became a general of Napoleon and then King of Sweden under the name Charles XIV.

In the 19th century

The former Hotel de Gassion

Former grand hotels of the Belle Époque which were in direct competition, the Hotel de Gassion and the Hotel de France, are located on the Boulevard des Pyrénées. The Hotel de Gassion, located between the château and the Church of Saint-Martin, now houses apartments. The Hotel de France, located to the east of the Place Royale, now houses the services of the Communauté d'agglomération de Pau-Pyrénées and is the second decision-making centre in Pau.

The Palais Beaumont, originally referred to as the Palais d'Hiver [Winter Palace], was created at the end of the 19th century. Mixing architectural styles, it was repeatedly altered and was renovated from 1996, after half a century of neglect. It hosts a casino but is primarily a convention centre, a space for events such as seminars and fairs.

Main article: Funiculaire de Pau

The funicular, which joins with the upper town, the historic centre, has welcomed travellers to and from the railway station, since 1908.

Municipal services settled in the current premises of the town hall in 1878. The building, located north of the Place Royale, is actually a former theatre dating from 1862. The project to erect the Church of Saint-Louis, on the site, launched in 1685 and revived in 1788, was never successful. The former use of the building explains the statue of Thalia, muse of comedy starring to the front, which adorns its pediment.

The climate tourism which took over in Pau has left a set of prestigious villas as a legacy. Rich English, American and Russian tourists built villas to facilitate their stay during the winter. These buildings, English-style, were mainly built at the end of the 19th century. These villas now have various uses such as a charming hotel (Villa Navarre, an Anglo-Norman Manor built between 1865 and 1870),[43] a reception room (Villa Saint Basil's built in 1889), apartments (Palais Sorrento in 1888) and as a residence of the prefect (Villa Saint Helena) etc.

The current courthouse was built on the territory of the former convent of the Cordeliers. The Place de la Libération today participates in the majesty of a building whose façade is classically decorated with columns, themselves topped by a pediment in white marble. Its construction began in 1847.

The railway station, of Eiffel style, was inaugurated in 1871 below the city centre.

It was natural that a barracks was progressively built in Pau from 1825 to 1875, the prefectural town close to the border. The Bernadotte Barracks, which today contains the national archives of the army, thus welcomed two regiments as early as 1830. The current Place de Verdun which has become parking and was formerly known as Place Napoleon, was, in fact, an area of close exercises.

Of the 20th century to the present day

Palais des Pyrénées

Outstanding built-up areas

Town squares


Typical districts

The Château Quarter in the rain

Environmental heritage

Parks and gardens

Parc Beaumont

Pau is also a green city, having more than 750 hectares (1,900 acres) occupied by green areas, with many rare and exotic species. Pau has been classed "4 flowers" by the Competition of Flowery Cities and Villages.[44] In some districts, for example Trespoey, the villas are bathed in vegetation. Pau is thus one of the European cities that have the most square meters of greenery per capita (80 square metres (860 sq ft) per capita):

Horizons Palois (Pau Horizons)

The notion of Horizons Palois refers to the desire to protect the major elements which structure the special view from Pau to its natural environment. The view from the heights of Pau includes the saligues of the Gave de Pau and the hillsides of Jurançon and finally the chain of the Pyrenees. Seventeen sites were registered in 1944 as Horizons Palois, in order to protect them from any construction or alteration that may deteriorate the extraordinary panorama which is particularly visible from the Boulevard des Pyrénées and the château. The city of Pau has committed several years of reflection to a candidacy of the Horizons to UNESCO World Heritage.[45] This would thus enhance the protection of the panorama, and also be an improvement with the renaming of this site to the general public.


Notable people

People born in Pau

Henry IV, King of France
Charles Jean Bernadotte, King of Sweden
Tony Estanguet, triple Olympic slalom champion

People who died in Pau


The emir Abd el-Kader, Algerian political and military leader

See also



  1. "...of remains have been discovered in 1850 on the outskirts of the area ... the remains of an important building, villa or baths..."[1]
  2. " an Act passed during the episcopate of Gui de Lons..."[2]
  3. Notably the Kings of Spain and the United Kingdom[3]
  4. With 2600 salaried employees, the CSTJF of Total plays a major role.
  5. At the beginning of the 21st century, the terms of census have been amended by Act No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, called "grassroots democracy law" on the democracy of proximity and in particular Title V "of census operations", in order, after a power transition period from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For municipalities with populations greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is carried out annually, the entire territory of these municipalities is included at the end of the same period of five years. The first post-legal population from 1999, and fitting in the new system which came into force on 1 January 2009, is the census of 2006.
  6. In the census table and the graph, by Wikipedia convention, the principle was retained for subsequent legal populations since 1999 not to display the census populations in the table and graph corresponding to the year 2006, the first published legal population calculated according to the concepts defined in Decree No. 2003-485 of 5 June 2003, and the years corresponding to an exhaustive census survey for municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants, and the years 2006, 2011, 2016, etc. For municipalities with more than 10,000, the latest legal population is published by INSEE for all municipalities.


  1. Saupiquet, Amédée (2004). Negue, Princi, ed. Petite histoire de Pau, la ville de Pau aux trois phases de son histoire. Pau. p. 14. ISBN 2-84618-168-3. 192. (BnF no FRBNF39913121)
  2. Saupiquet, Amédée (2004). negue, Princi, ed. Petite histoire de Pau, la ville de Pau aux trois phases de son histoire. Pau. p. 13. ISBN 2-84618-168-3. 192. (BnF no FRBNF39913121)
  3. "Les frères Wright".
  4. "Données climatiques de la station de Pau" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  5. "Climat Aquitaine" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  6. "Normes et records 1961-1990: Pau-Uzein (64) - altitude 183m" (in French). Infoclimat. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  7. Michel Grosclaude, Dictionnaire toponymique des communes du Béarn, 2006, p. 304
  8. Histoire de Pau, pp. 11–15
  9. Tucoo-Chala, Pierre (1989). Histoire de Pau. Toulouse: Éditions Privat. pp. 11–15. ISBN 2-7089-8238-9. collection Univers de la France.
  10. "Béarn (Traditional province, France)". Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  11. "La basse ville de Pau, toute une histoire à redécouvrir" [The lower town of Pau, a history to rediscover] (in French). Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  13. Thomas F. Schwartz And Anne V. Shaughnessy. "Unpublished Mary Lincoln Letters". Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  14. Jean Touyarot, L'Hôtel des ombres, Seuil, 2011, 220 p.
  15. Voir l'explication des aboutissants de la conférence dans Hugues Tertrais, la piastre et le fusil. Le coût de la guerre d'Indochine, 1945–1954. Paris : ministère de l'Économie, des Finances et de l'Industrie, Comité pour l'histoire économique et financière de la France, 2002, p. 95-102
  16. "Résultat municipales Pau [élu publié]".
  17. "Base communale des Pyrénées-Atlantiques – Intercommunalité". Cellule informatique préfecture 64. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Coopérations et jumelages" (in French). Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  19. "Regional Overview" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2007.
  20. "Pau" [Pau] (in French). Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  21. "64445-Pau 2006" [64445-Pau 2006] (in French). Retrieved 14 April 2015."64445-Pau 2012" [64445-Pau 2012] (in French). Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  22. "Pau: la clinique Marzet est rachetée par la polyclinique de Navarre" [Pau: The Marzet Clinic is bought by the Polyclinic of Navarre] (in French). Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  23. "Ostau Bearnés". Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  24. Louis Sallenave, Un siècle à Pau et en Béarn, Presse et éditions de l'Adour, p. 2000
  25. "Carnaval Biarnes". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  26. "Hestiv'Oc". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  28. "Festival du Jeu de Société de Pau". Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  29. "Bienvenue sur le site de Shock of Street, association de Parkour à Pau." [Welcome to Shock of Street, Parkour Association in Pau.] (in French). Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  30. "PYRÉNÉA SPORTS" [PYRÉNÉA SPORTS] (in French). Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  31. "LA PYRENEA TRIATHLON" [LA PYRENEA TRIATHLON] (in French). Archived from the original on 8 March 2009.
  32. "Pau-Pyrénées obtient les mondiaux de canoë-kayak 2017" [Pau-Pyrenees obtains 2017 world canoeing] (in French). Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  33. 1 2 Horace A. Laffaye, The Evolution of Polo, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2009, p. 27
  34. "Pau camp de base du Tour dans les Pyrénées" [Pau Base Camp of the Tour in the Pyrenees] (in French). Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  35. Office Location. Halliburton. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  36. Roger Vincent Aiello, Dans les coulisses d'Elf Aquitaine, Éditions Le Manuscrit, 2010, p. 61
  37. "La filière des energies et des nouveaux matériaux" [The sector of energies and new materials] (in French). Archived from the original on 23 August 2007.
  38. Graham Robb, The Discovery of France, Picador, London (2007), p.287
  39. "Classement des autoroutes les plus chères de France" [Ranking of the most expensive highways in France] (in French). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  40. "". Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  41. "Pau : coup d'envoi symbolique des travaux pour le bus " amélioré "" [Pau: Symbolic kick-off of the work for the 'improved' bus] (in French). Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  42. Dr H.-M. Fay, Dr H.-Marcel, Histoire de la lèpre en France. I. Lépreux et cagots du Sud-Ouest, notes historiques, médicales, philologiques, suivies de documents [History of leprosy in France. I. lepers and cagots in southwestern, medical and historical, philological, followed by documents] (in French). Paris: H. Champion. 1910 p.
  43. 1 2 Pays basque. Place Des Editeurs. 2013. p. 221.
  44. "Les villes et villages fleuris – Pau" [Flowery towns and villages – Pau] (in French). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  45. "Le Boulevard des Pyrénées de Pau rêve d'Unesco" [The Boulevard des Pyrénées of Pau dreams of Unesco] (in French). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  46. "Les villes et villages fleuris" [The flowery cities and villages] (in French). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
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