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Pau A Balcony Over the Pyrenees

The English discovered Pau in the mid-19th century, fell in love with its mild climate and turned it into one of their favourite summer resorts. This is borne out by the well preserved oldest golf course in Europe outside the United Kingdom. The capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département, well known as a city of art and history, offers visitors generous helpings of history, cuisine and fine wine, in addition to an adrenalin rush in the watersports available to all-comers at the Pau-Pyrénées Whitewater Stadium.

Pau – A City with History

The historic centre of Pau is distributed around its castle, the birthplace of Henry IV of France (and III of Navarre), known as "Good King Henry", France’s first king of the Bourbon dynasty. The hallmark of this castle is its architectural diversity and, like all national museums in France, admission is free every first Sunday of the month. Opposite the castle stands the Parliament of Navarre, set up in the mid-17th century after the edict of unification between France and the historical region of Bearn. It is now the seat of the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

The old town features a number of interesting sights, including such emblematic buildings as the Church of Saint-Martin and the Maison Sully, a 17th-century mansion. Touching its doorknocker is said to bring good luck, so you are advised to go through this ritual before leaving the city, just in case.

The Boulevard des Pyrénées – A Balcony Overlooking Nature

One of the landmark spots in Pau is the Boulevard des Pyrénées, designed as a replica of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It connects the castle to the Beaumont Palace and affords beautiful views of the mountain range separating France and Spain. A pastime very much in vogue among locals and, by extension, among many visitors too, is to sit at one of the terrace cafés and soak up the fabulous mountain views.

Several museums are open to sightseers in Pau, notably the Bernadotte House, the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a French general who ascended to the throne of Sweden, and the Fine Arts Museum, which houses a collection of paintings by Victor Galos, as well as works by local artists and even Degas and Rubens.

Cuisine and Sports in Pau

Pyrenean cuisine, with its standout local sausage and tasty cheeses, is another of the major attractions in the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. One highly popular dish is poule au pot (casseroled chicken), an icon of traditional Bearnese cuisine. Prominent among local wines is Jurançon, which comes in two flavours – dry and sweet. Lastly, to burn up the calories ingested, watersports come highly recommended, notably rafting and hydrospeed. And, they can both be done at the nearby white-water stadium which in 2017 will be hosting the Canoe World Championships.

Be sure to visit this beautiful city – book your flight here.

Text and images by Tus Destinos

Images by Jean Jacques BROCHARD, Alban GILBERT