Stage town for the 75th time

Prefecture of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64)

Population: 77,700 (Palois, Paloises), 162,000 for the 31 communes of Pau Béarn Pyrénées.

Specialities: garbure, poule au pot, foie gras, magret and other duck and goose dishes, honey, coucougnettes du Vert Galant (roasted almonds coated in dark chocolate and raspberry marzipan), Verdier chocolates, Francis Miot jams, le Russe (almond cake with praline cream), ossau-iraty (cheese), wines (Jurançon, Madiran, Pacherenc).

Personalities : Henry IV (1553-1572, King of France), Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte (1756-1835, Marshal of the Empire then King of Sweden and Norway under the name of Charles XIV), André Labarrère (1928-2006, politician), Christian Laborde (writer), Ariane Massenet (TV presenter), Robert Paparemborde, Damien Traille (rugby union), Patrice Estanguet (canoeing, Olympic medallist in 1996), Tony Estanguet (canoeing, Olympic champion in 2000, 2004 and 2012, President of the Paris 2024 OCOG), Julien Escudé (football), Nicolas Escudé, Jérémy Chardy (tennis), Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, Matthieu Ladagnous, Nicolas Portal (cycling).

Sport: Section Paloise (rugby union, Top 14), Élan béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (basketball, Pro A), Pau Canoë-Kayak Club Universitaire. Pau-Pyrénées whitewater stadium, Basque pelota complex, Pau-Gelos national stud farm, Pau-Sers equestrian training centre, golf course (oldest course in continental Europe, created in 1856).

Events: Courir à Pau (February), Téraga Open (March, tennis), Ekiden Pau-Gelos (April), Grand Prix automobile de Pau (historic), Les Étoiles de Pau (eventing), 2017 World Canoe-Kayak Championships.

Economy: second largest economic centre in Aquitaine after Bordeaux, military (airborne troops school, national centre for military personnel archives), University of Pau and the Pays de l'Adour (12,700 students), geosciences and petroleum engineering, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceutical and food industries, aeronautics, mechanics, IT, equine industry, tourism.

Festivals: Carnaval biarnès (February), Le livre en Béarn (February), Festival des danses plurielles (March), Urban Session (May), Rendez-vous aux Jardins (June), Flamenco y Feria Festival (June), Un été au ciné (July), Hestiv' `Oc (August, music and culture from the South), Street Arts Festival (August), Un aller-retour dans le noir (October, crime book fair), Les Idées mènent le monde (November, literary meetings), Pau International Film Festival (December)

To ride: 25 km of cycle paths and 101 km of cycle lanes, IDEcycle (self-service bicycle hire), 170 bicycles in 15 stations and 2 mobile stations.

Slogan: Pau, Capital of the Tour.

Labels"Ville à Vélo du Tour de France" 3 bikes / Town of Art and History / Active and Sporting Town / Children's Friendly Town / Action cœur de Ville label / Cit'érgie label for the Climate Plan / Town in bloom 4 flowers

Websites / FB / / / / / www.pau-pyréné / /


In 2019, the capital of Béarn celebrated the centenary of the appearance of the Yellow Jersey, masterfully honoured by Julian Alaphilippe, who won the time trial held in town at the same time as extending his lead in the overall classification. The next two starts from the capital of Béarn went to Tadej Pogacar, who won first in Laruns in 2020 and then in Luz-Ardiden the following year. But the Slovenian gave in on a new Pau-Laruns stage in 2023, where Jonas Vingegaard took more than a minute from him and ruined his hopes of victory, on the same day that Jai Hindley temporarily took the Yellow Jersey.  This will be the 75th time that Pau has hosted the Tour de France, our shared history having begun in 1930. As a base camp before or after climbing the Pyrenees, the city lends itself to all kinds of profiles, as shown by the list of winners in town, from climbers René Vietto and Fausto Coppi to attackers like Pierrick Fedrigo. Among the sprinters, Sean Kelly, Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen preceded Arnaud Démare, who snatched a prestigious victory here in 2018, his second in the Grande Boucle. With so many finishes in the city (and just as many starts on Boulevard des Pyrénées), the Tour was bound to be a magnet for riders, and there are many with links to Pau. From Victor Fontan, winner of two stages in 1928 and short-lived Yellow Jersey holder in 1929, to 1956 Olympic team time-trial champion Arnaud Geyre, and closer to home Stéphane Augé, with eight participations, Mathieu Ladagnous, with seven Tours to his name, and the late sporting director of the Ineos team, Nicolas Portal, who took part in six Tours as a rider.


  • The Tour of the Giants

Although the city of Henry IV is on the podium behind Paris and Bordeaux in the rankings for loyalty to the event, for several summers it has also been the home of the Tour des Géants, statues erected to celebrate of the winners of the Tour de France. Each of these totems features the name and photo of the winner of the year in question, as well as a text written by writer Christian Laborde. The totems are almost two-metres high and form a permanent monument set in a green setting at Bois Louis, near the Philippe Tissié stadium. The spiral-shaped site will be home to a new sculpture every year. Each aluminium and glass effigy displays the name and photo of the year's winner, the number of kilometres covered, the average distance covered and photos or drawings, accompanied by a dynamic and original text. A QR code is affixed to each of the statues. By scanning the code with a smartphone, you can listen to the text translated into several languages.  

  • Boulevard des Pyrénées

Completed in 1900, it offers an exceptional panoramic view of almost 150 km of the Pyrenees mountain range. Its 850-metre-long balustrade serves as an orientation rail. The spirit of the Boulevard des Pyrénées project was inspired by Jean-Charles Alphand, who wrote: "Pau lacks the Promenade des Anglais in Nice". The boulevard was therefore designed as a mountain replica of Nice's Promenade des Anglais, an ideal place to "see and be seen". This promenade on the edge of a totally artificial balcony represents a technical and aesthetic feat, which has structured and organised urban development since its creation.  

  • Park and Palais Beaumont

Built: 1900

Style: neo-classical.

Architect: Émile Bertrand.

Characteristics: built in 1900 to accommodate wealthy holidaymakers, the Palais d'hiver (Winter Palace), also known as Palais Beaumont, now houses a casino and conference centre. The site is located in the heart of a park with remarkable trees and a theatre of greenery. The starting village for the Tour is often located here.  

  • Château de Pau National Museum

Construction: 12th to 19th centuries.

Style: medieval and composite.

History: Standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking a ford in the Gave, the foundations of Pau Castle date back to the early Middle Ages. Henri IV was born here on 13 December 1553. In addition to its royal flats, it houses important collections dedicated to Henry IV, as well as a large number of tapestries, and its carapace cradle still features prominently. The château was restored under Louis-Philippe.

Characteristics: built on a rocky hill, it has a highly irregular polygonal plan, at the top of two embankments surrounded by the first and second walls. Inside this second wall, the castle is built on the same polygonal plan. Today, it is flanked by six towers, while a seventh, known as the Mint, is part of the first wall. These towers are all rectangular and linked by a thick wall against which the residential buildings forming the dwelling are built.

Current purpose: a prestigious residence for centuries, the château became a national museum dedicated to Henry IV in 1926.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1840.  

  • The Halles district

The Halles-République-Foirail-Carnot sector has undergone a complete metamorphosis as a result of major works. Following the completion of the Halles project, which is emblematic of the town centre's renewal, the redevelopment of the surrounding areas has been a new stage in the transformation of the town centre. This area is now one of the beating hearts of Pau. The refurbishment of the Foirail, which has become a multi-purpose cultural complex dedicated to cinema and live entertainment, has led to the creation of a 500-seat live entertainment venue and 3 Méliès cinemas (200, 120 and 80 seats). Place du Foirail is now a pedestrianised, tree-lined garden square, offering a friendly esplanade.  

  • Banks of the Gave

This 250-hectare park is criss-crossed by 13 km of Gave riverbank. Remarkable for its natural heritage, this park aims to allow everyone to enjoy a natural space in the city. Various facilities are available for walkers, including benches and picnic tables. On the banks of the Gave, you'll also find the white-water stadium and the "blue way”, where you can take a break with water sports: canoeing or rafting.  

  • Sers Estate

The newly inaugurated Domaine de Sers, with its 25 hectares of greenery, is a great place for local residents. In addition to the municipal greenhouses, it houses the Maison du Jardinier (House of the Gardener), a place for information, advice and events on sustainable gardening. It is also a way of supporting residents in their projects to green public spaces.


  • The garbure

Garbure is a traditional Gascon dish made with cabbage and chunks of vegetables. It originated in Bearn and is often eaten in Pau. It was not until the mid-20th century that duck or goose confit was added to this essentially rural dish for the poor. Garbure was the daily fare of Gascon peasants. It varied from house to house, depending on the seasons and the resources of the kitchen garden and salt cellar. The principle of the recipe is to cook for a long time an assortment of vegetables and meats, usually preserved. Served as a soup or a main course, garbure can be adapted to suit individual needs. When it comes to vegetables, anything is possible. There should be plenty of them: green cabbage accompanied by fresh or dried corn beans, broad beans, mangetout beans, potatoes, turnips, large peas, onions, garlic, sometimes carrots, turnips and even lettuce, chestnuts, nettles or even borage. Among the meat options, of course, is the duck leg, preserved in its own fat, which adds inestimable flavour. But also carcasses, some goose offal, dried pork shank, the core of a large ham (camalhoû) or a piece of pig's neck, bacon, sausage, gizzards, dried ribs (coustoûs).


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