- Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
image_coat_of_arms=Escut de Pau.png
canton=Chief town of 6 cantons
Communauté d'agglomération de Pau Pyrénées
latitude=43.3016666666667|alt moy=178 m
alt mini=165 m
alt maxi=245 m
date-dens=1999 Pau is a town and "commune" in the
Aquitaine"région" of southwestern France. It is famous for the Boulevard des Pyrénées, a walk of three-quarters of a kilometre from the Château de Pauto the Parc du Beaumontwith magnificent views of the mountains in the Pyreneesmountain range.
Pau is the "préfecture" of the
Pyrénées-Atlantiques"département" and of the "arrondissement" of Pau. The commune of Pau has joined together with 13 neighbouring communes to establish the "communauté d'agglomération" of Pau-Pyrénées which provides a framework within which local tasks are carried out together. The Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour (founded in 1972) is situated in the town and accounts for Pau's high student population.
Pau was the capital of the former province of
Béarn. The site, on a slight elevation overlooking the valley of the mountain river called the Gave de Pau, where it was crossed by a ford, controlled access to an easy passage into the Pyrenees, used annually for the seasonal pasturage of flocks of sheep in the high meadows (now represented by a hiking footpath GR 65that runs about 60 km south to the Spanish border). Access to the pass partly accounts for Pau's strategic importance.
The site was fortified in the 11th century ("pau" means "
palisade" in Occitan), and it became the seat of the viscounts of Béarn. Pau was made the capital of Béarnin 1464. During the early 16th century, the "Château de Pau", made more habitable by Gaston Fébus, count of Foix, became the residence of the kings of Navarre, who were also counts of Béarn.
Pau was the birthplace of
Henry IV of France(1553–1610), though this required some extraordinary effort. His mother, the redoubtable Jeanne d'Albret, crossed the whole of France to ensure that her son would be born there. The baby's lips were moistened with the local wine and rubbed with garlic shortly after the birth.
Charles XIV of Sweden was born in Pau, in 1763.
When Henry IV left Pau to become King of France, he remarked to the local notables that he was not giving Béarn to France, he was giving France to Béarn.
The English discovered the charms of Pau and its climate and left their imprint, partly because Wellington left a garrison at Pau on his way into Spain during the
Peninsular Waragainst Napoleon. Vacationing British, arriving before the railroad did, established the scenic promenade, the "Boulevard des Pyrenées," the first full 18-hole golf coursein Europe (laid out in 1856/1860, and still in existence), and a real tenniscourt.
Napoleon III refurbished the château, while Pau added streets of
Belle Époquearchitecture, before fashion transferred to Biarritz. Pau is still a major centre for winter sports and for equestrian events, with a famous steeplechase.
Château de Pau
In the center of Pau there is a magnificent castle, the Château de Pau, that dominates that quarter of the city. It is famous for being the birthplace of the 16th century king of France Henry IV and was once used by Napoleon as a holiday home during his period of power. It has a small garden that was tended by
Marie Antoinettewhen she spent much of the summers in the city.
The château now is considered a French historical monument and contains a nice collection of
From the 1950s to the 1990s Pau depended on the production of
natural gasand sulphur dioxide which were discovered nearby at Lacq. Today the mainstays of the Béarn area are the oil business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture. Pau was the birthplace of Elf Aquitaine, which has now become a part of Total.
Pau has an airport,
Pau Pyrénées Airport, which is about 10 km away from the centre. There are limited scheduled flights, to Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, London, Lyonand Paris.
The A64 motorway, from
Bayonneto Tolouse, runs just to the north of Pau. The Spanish border is about 60 km south of Pau, and the "Route nationale" 134, which forms part of the European route E07, connects Pau to the Spanish cities of Huescaand Zaragozavia Canfranc.
Pau is served by Pau railway station, on the line from Bayonne to Tolouse. TER regional services linking these two cities call at Pau, which is also the terminus for
TGVhigh speed services from Paris. The Funiculaire de Paulinks the city centre and Boulevard des Pyrénéesto the railway station in the valley below.
Société des Transports de l'Agglomération Paloise(STAP) operates 13 urban busroutes, serving Pau and the adjoining communes.
Pau is the home of the French military's "Ècole des troupes aéroportées", which trains and certifies military
The local basketball team,
Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthezhave been French champions five times in the last ten years- most recently in 2004. Famous former players include Boris Diaw, Mickael Pietrusand Johan Petro.
Pau is home to
Section Paloise, the city's rugby unionteam, which plays in the second French division known as Pro D2. Most recently in 2000, it won the European Challenge Cup, a top European trophy. French International player Damien Trailleonce played for the team and is a native to the city.
Pau is home to the first golf course on continental Europe, laid out in 1856. Since May 2007, the converted trinquet has reopened to its original sport,
real tennis, on Sundays.
Since 1930, Pau has become a mainstay of the
Tour de Francecycling race, thanks both to its geographical location and to its marvelous infrastructure. Pau hosted its 62nd stage in 2008, and only one other city besides Paris has done better.
In 2008, between August 11-23, 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.
For amateur joggers the Gave de Pau river banks 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.
The city also has a football (soccer) team, Pau FC.
Grand Prix de Pau
Pau holds the honor of arranging the first race ever to be called a Grand Prix in 1901. After that the 1928
French Grand Prixwas 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 Étancelinwinning for Bugatti. Pau was back in the race calendar in 1933, now with a Monaco inspired track in the city center.
The track, which is 2.769 km in length, is one of the most curious and twisty in the GP history and has remained more or less unchanged into the 1990s. The first curve is the sharp 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 high school Louis Barthou that leads the track into the demanding Parc Beaumont section at the top of the town. After visiting the Casino garden and passing yet another hairpin, the Virage the Buisson, the track winds its way back to the startline along the Avenue Lacoste.
Pau was traditionally the season opener but selecting mid February as the date for the 1933 GP was to tempt fate and the race took place in a
snowstormwith sludge making the conditions into one of the worst ever in racing history. After a one year pause the race was back in 1935 with Tazio Nuvolaridominating in an Alfa Romeo P3entered by Scuderia Ferrari. The 1936 race saw the only major victory for the MaseratiV8-R1, driven by Ètancelin. In 1937 the race was part of the French sports car series with Jean-Pierre Wimilledominating, 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-Benzbefore the Grandes Epreuves.
The 1938 race saw
René Dreyfus' Delahayesensationally beating the Mercedes-Benzteam. In 1939 Mercedes wasn't to be taken by surprise, Hermann Langleading the team to a double victory. After the war Pau continued as a non-championship Formula 1race until 1963. Thereafter the race was run to Formula 2rules until the sport was replaced by Formula 3000in 1985. In 1999, the event again changed, with Formula Threecars racing.
Pau was the birthplace of:
Gastón de Peralta, marqués de Falces(1510-1587), viceroy of New Spainfrom 1566 to 1568
Jeanne d'Albret(1528–1572), Queen of Navarrefrom 1555 to 1572
* Henry IV (1553–1610),
king of Francefrom 1589 to 1610
* Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte (1763–1844),
Marshal of Franceand later King of Sweden and Norway
Charles Denis Bourbaki(1816–1897), French general of Greek descent
Jean Jules Verdenal(1890-1915), friend and correspondent of T. S. Eliot
Marguerite Broquedis(1893-1983), female tennis player
André Courrèges(born 1923), fashion designer
Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg(born 1943), politician
Alain Lamassoure(born 1944), politician
Bertrand Cantat(born 1964), singerand songwriter
Cédric Gracia(born 1978), mountain biker
Walter Lapeyre(born 1976), pistol shooter
Jérémy Chardy(born 1987), professional tennis player
Tony Estanguet(born 1978), French slalom canoer
Pau has been twinned with
Zaragoza, Spain, since 1970
*flagicon|United States Mobile,
Alabama, United States, since 1975cite web|title="Regional Overview"|work=MobileChamber.com|url=http://www.mobilechamber.com/regionaloverview.pdf
Pistoia, Italy, since 1975
Yamanashi, Japan, since 1977
Setúbal, Portugal, since 1981
Swansea, United Kingdom, since 1982
Göttingen, Germany, since 1983
Daloa, Côte d'Ivoire, since 1984
Xi'an, China, since 1986
Palais des Sports de Pau
Stade du Hameau
* [http://www.pau-pyrenees.com/index.php?lan=UK Tourist office of the city]
* [http://www.pau.fr/ City council website (French)]
* [http://www.pyreneesguide.com/subs.asp?sID=210&cID=17 "Pau and around: Pau tourism travel guide"]
* [http://france-for-visitors.com/pyrenees/pau.html Visiting Pau (English)]
* [http://www.pau-online.com/english/index.php Pau-online.com ]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Pau+France&ie=UTF8&z=12&ll=43.300697,-0.374222&spn=0.129676,0.361862&om=1&iwloc=addr Google Map of Pau]
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