Pau

The gate of the Pyrenees

Overshadowed in the South-West of France by Toulouse and Bordeaux, Pau decided to go into branding in order to stand out in front of these two gigantic rivals. The new brand, Pau Porte des Pyrenees (PPP), also bids to coordinate local assets and talents to showcase the town’s enormous human and economic potential.
PPP unites 123 communes and some 225,000 inhabitants. The new brand aims at underlining a geographic reality but also to modernise Pau’s image in five directions: cooperation , education, culture, transportation and solidarity.
Thanks to the brand, Pau hopes to go beyond its image of a lively pleasant little town and stress the importance of the Pyrenees foothills at national and international level. Each of the three Ps on the new logo has a strong symbolic meaning: one is the Golden Cow, the town’s emblem, symbolising Peace, another one is a heart, symbolising Partage (Sharing), the other, the Ossau Mount, reflect the Passion for the mountain summits and the ambition to go higher.

64 previous stages
Population: 87,000
Prefecture of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64)

Specialities : béarnaise sauce, garbure (soup), poule au pot, jurançon and Bearn wines, jams and honey.
Economy : services, oil refinery, petrochemicals, food products, mechanics, new technologies. Tourism.
Motto : Urbis palladium et gentis.
Sport : Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (basketball), Section paloise (rugby union), Pau FC (football), canoe kayak national centre, first golf in France built by the English.
Celebrities : King Henry IV, Porthos (musketeer), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, Abd el-Kader, Saint-John Perse, Tony Estanguet (canoeist), Christian Laborde, Stephane Auge, Nicolas and Julien Escude.
Events : Summer in Pau, Bulles d’Afrique, de la Caraïbe, Hestiv’Oc, Les Zébulitions, Mosaïka.

Timeline

  • 11th century

    Building of a castle to control the Gave (river) halfway between Lescar,the bishop see, and Morlaas, fief of the viscounts of Bearn.
  • 1188

    Gaston VI of Bearn gathered his cour majour in the castle called Pau sincethe beginning of the century.
  • 13th century

    Gaston Febus fortifies and enlarges the castle.
  • 1464

    Pau becomes the fourth capital of Bearn after Lescar, Morlaas and Orthez.
  • 1512

    Pau becomes the capital of the kings of Navarre.
  • 1589

    Henri IV is crowned king of France.
  • 1796

    Pau becomes the prefecture of the Basses Pyrenees department.
  • 1830

    Pau becomes a favourite holiday destination for the British.
  • 1909

    Pau becomes one of the capitals of the aircraft industry.
  • 1951

    Discovery of gas in Lacq, which boosts the town’s economy.
La statue de Gaston Fébus, devant le château de Pau - Crédit : Jibi44Henri IV
64 previous stages
Population: 87,000
Prefecture of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64)

Specialities : béarnaise sauce, garbure (soup), poule au pot, jurançon and Bearn wines, jams and honey.
Economy : services, oil refinery, petrochemicals, food products, mechanics, new technologies. Tourism.
Motto : Urbis palladium et gentis.
Sport : Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (basketball), Section paloise (rugby union), Pau FC (football), canoe kayak national centre, first golf in France built by the English.
Celebrities : King Henry IV, Porthos (musketeer), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, Abd el-Kader, Saint-John Perse, Tony Estanguet (canoeist), Christian Laborde, Stephane Auge, Nicolas and Julien Escude.
Events : Summer in Pau, Bulles d’Afrique, de la Caraïbe, Hestiv’Oc, Les Zébulitions, Mosaïka.

Pau and cyling

In 1930 Alfredo Binda showed the way for the winners in Pau. He won the first of his only two stages on the Tour there, although he was considered as being the greatest rider in the interwar period. Indeed, the rider from Lombardy, who almost acquired French nationality, only took part in the 1930 Tour and stayed away from the race for the rest of his career.
The winner of 41 stages of the Giro d’Italia, Binda won the Tour de France four times all the same, as the manager of the Italian team.
The birthplace of King Henry IV, Pau has also welcomed the race in style 64 times and is the Tour’s most visited city after Paris and Bordeaux. Alfredo Binda was the first rider to win there in 1930. When the race last finished in Pau, in 2010, Pierrick Fédrigo had to be even more outstanding as he was part of a prestigious breakaway, which featured, in particular Armstrong. The seven-time winner of the Tour was even in the lead on his own at one point in the ascent of the Tourmalet. But the attack did not have the same impact as during his years of reign. He finished the stage in 6th place.

64 previous stages
Population: 87,000
Prefecture of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64)

Specialities : béarnaise sauce, garbure (soup), poule au pot, jurançon and Bearn wines, jams and honey.
Economy : services, oil refinery, petrochemicals, food products, mechanics, new technologies. Tourism.
Motto : Urbis palladium et gentis.
Sport : Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (basketball), Section paloise (rugby union), Pau FC (football), canoe kayak national centre, first golf in France built by the English.
Celebrities : King Henry IV, Porthos (musketeer), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, Abd el-Kader, Saint-John Perse, Tony Estanguet (canoeist), Christian Laborde, Stephane Auge, Nicolas and Julien Escude.
Events : Summer in Pau, Bulles d’Afrique, de la Caraïbe, Hestiv’Oc, Les Zébulitions, Mosaïka.

What to see

Henry IV Castle

Built on a rocky ridge overlooking a ford on the Gave, the castle’s foundations date from the early Middle-Ages. But the present aspect of the castle owes much to Gaston Febus, viscount of Bearn in the 14th century. In the next, it became the residence of the viscounts of Bearn, who inherited the kingdom of Navarre. Henri IV was born here in 1553. Restored by King Louis-Philippe, the castle became a museum in 1926. Alongside the royal apartments, it is home to several collections devoted to King Henri and a great number of tapestries, making it the biggest tapestry museum in France outside Paris.

Palais Beaumont

The domain first belonged to a Romanian-born countess better known in her time as a poet and writer – Anna de Noailles. Aristide de Monpezat, the mayor of Pau at the time, bought the domain back to creat a garden for the public, the Beaumont Park. Several years later, in 1900, the municipality decided to build a Winter Palace to host games, meetings and festivals. At the time, Pau attracted most of Europe’s nobility because of its climate and a casino opened its doors, qucikly becoming the center of Pau’s social life.
Two World Wars put an end to this golden age and the building, refurbished in the 1930s and 1950s, gradually lost its gloss. It was almost derelict when Pau mayor Andre Labarrere decided to turn it into a Congress Hall in 1995. Work started in 1998 and the new Palais Beaumont opend its doors in 2000.

National Stud Farm of Pau-Gelos

In 1808, Napoleon I decided to create a National Stud Farm in Gelos, in the suburbs of Pau. It was set in the former residence of the president of the Finance Court of the Parliament of Navarre, one of the few 18th century buildings remaining in the region. It is nowadays a thriving institution specialised in reproduction, while Pyrenees-Atlantiques is France’s leading department for horse breeding. The farm owns 60 stalions both draught horses and race horses and is specialised in the preservation of regional breeds. The farm also houses a unique collection of 19th century carriages and coaches.

Pau Museum of Fine Arts

Set in a typical 1930s building, the Museum of Fine Arts owns several masterpieces. Besides the famous Degas painting “The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans”, a varied collection of Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French masters from the 15th to the 20th century are on display: Giordano, Rubens, Fantin-Latour, Morisot, Lhote, Marquet, Flandrin, Greco are among the painters whose works are visible.

Le Château, vu des berges du Gave - Crédit : Pierre Ollivier
64 previous stages
Population: 87,000
Prefecture of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64)

Specialities : béarnaise sauce, garbure (soup), poule au pot, jurançon and Bearn wines, jams and honey.
Economy : services, oil refinery, petrochemicals, food products, mechanics, new technologies. Tourism.
Motto : Urbis palladium et gentis.
Sport : Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (basketball), Section paloise (rugby union), Pau FC (football), canoe kayak national centre, first golf in France built by the English.
Celebrities : King Henry IV, Porthos (musketeer), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, Abd el-Kader, Saint-John Perse, Tony Estanguet (canoeist), Christian Laborde, Stephane Auge, Nicolas and Julien Escude.
Events : Summer in Pau, Bulles d’Afrique, de la Caraïbe, Hestiv’Oc, Les Zébulitions, Mosaïka.

Up and flying Pau

Pau is proud of its past as a pioneering town for aviation. It was first a haven for aerostation thanks to the presence in town of James Gordon Bennett or Gaston and Albert Tissandier. In January 1909, Pau welcomed the famous Wright brothers, who inaugurated the first flying school in history. Soon, Louis Bleriot and air companies Voisin, Antoinette, Deperdussin, Morane Saulnier and Nieuport, followed.
In 1912, the French army chose Pau as its base to form its future pilots. Pau’s air base trained more than 6,000 pilots, including celebrities like Guynemer, Roland Garros or Vedrines as well as the American volunteers of the La Fayette squadron.
Pau’s aircraft history is now displayed in an exhibition in the Palais Beaumont. The Adour area remains an important centre for aircraft industry and several worldleading companies are based around Pau: Daher-Socata for turbine mono-engined aircraft, Dassault-Aviation for business jets, Messier-Dowty for undercarriages, and Turbomeca for helicopter turbines. These companies keep Pau up and flying.

Pau, town of art and history


On November 18, 2011, Pau received the label of Town of Art and History from the French ministry of culture. The label rewarded the efforts of preservation and valorisation of the town’s heritage launched in 2009: the revitalisation of the town centre was the most spectacular example of this new approach.

Orville WrightWilbur Wright
64 previous stages
Population: 87,000
Prefecture of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64)

Specialities : béarnaise sauce, garbure (soup), poule au pot, jurançon and Bearn wines, jams and honey.
Economy : services, oil refinery, petrochemicals, food products, mechanics, new technologies. Tourism.
Motto : Urbis palladium et gentis.
Sport : Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (basketball), Section paloise (rugby union), Pau FC (football), canoe kayak national centre, first golf in France built by the English.
Celebrities : King Henry IV, Porthos (musketeer), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, Abd el-Kader, Saint-John Perse, Tony Estanguet (canoeist), Christian Laborde, Stephane Auge, Nicolas and Julien Escude.
Events : Summer in Pau, Bulles d’Afrique, de la Caraïbe, Hestiv’Oc, Les Zébulitions, Mosaïka.

Jersey wearers after the stage 20

Classifications after the stage 20

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