France: Pau - gate to the Pyrenees
July 6, 2019
by Evgeny Kulkov
If you decide to explore the French Pyrenees, it is best to start with the city of Pau. A free funicular takes you from the train station to the Boulevard des Pyrenees, opposite the Royal square. In clear weather, at least 83 peaks of the famous mountains can be seen from the Boulevard des Pyrénées. Right in front of you will see a crevice in the peak of Midi d’Ossau, one of the highest in the Pyrenees.
Church of Saint-Martin
Passing along the boulevard, on the right we will see the church of Saint-Martin. It began to be built under the influence of the neo-gothic style in the 1860s. Every Sunday, the church’s automatic carillon plays the notes of “Little night Serenade” and “Ah, mother, let me tell you” written by Mozart.
Castle of kings of Navarre
At the end of the boulevard, we are waiting for the main city attraction – the royal castle. Marguerite of Angoulême, the sister of the French king Francis I, married the king of Navarre, turned the gloomy castle into a Renaissance palace with doors, windows, and arches covered with wonderful carvings. Remarkable kitchen premises of the XVII century have been preserved here. French king Henry IV was born in this castle. The castle still has a huge turtle shell, which served as Henry’s cradle.
You should walk along the streets behind the Boulevard Pyrenees, especially in its western part. It stretches along the edge of the cliff above the mountain river Pau from the castle to Beaumont Palace (now there is a conference center), with an English-style Park.
Pau is the only European city where two founders of the Royal dynasties were born. In addition to Henry IV, the native of this city is the Swedish king Charles XIV Johan (Bernadotte). This is Napoleon’s General, who became king of Sweden. House of the beginning of the XVIII century, the museum is a perfect example of the architecture of the Béarn. On its two floors, there are stages of the rapid ascent of the son of the lawyer Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, produced in the kings of Sweden and Norway.
Features of the exhibition allow the visitor to systematically immerse themselves in the atmosphere of Bearn XVIII century and the Napoleonic era. In addition to the beautiful examples of traditional Bearn furniture in the house, there are several valuable works of art that Bernadotte collected during his life. Interestingly, since 2010, every autumn the museum Bernadotte is transferred to a Scandinavian time.
Pau and the English
Pau, ironically, owes its beauty to the British. It was here that settled retired British officers of the army of Wellington after the war with Napoleon. Thanks to his efforts, Pau has become a very popular holiday destination among the British.
The elegant Pau invites you to stroll along the shady boulevards, past the elegant art Nouveau mansions and through the narrow cobbled streets with half-timbered houses. Come to France, to Pau. This city is always happy to meet new friends!