Pau and the Béarn

Pau ChateauThe château at Pau by night

FunicularThe funicular at the Boul. des Pyrenées

Oloron RiverThe Gave (river) d’Oloron

The town of Pau, the capital of the département of Pyrenées Atlantiques, is a seductive town, elegant, slow-moving, in a charming setting beside the river, dominated by the château, the birthplace of Henri IV.

There is a railway station in Ogeu and several trains run daily between Oloron-Sainte Marie and Pau. From the station in Pau there is a funicular (see left) that takes you up to the Boulevard des Pyrenées at no charge.

From Pau in the East to Bayonne in the West, from the hills that form the northern boundary of Béarn to the foothills of the Pyrenées, this is a region of rivers, streams and valleys whose town centres and villages seem to have changed little since the days of Napoléon.

There are walled towns, sleepy villages, delightful market towns, the vine-covered slopes of Jurançon and Madiran, framed by the mountains to the South and the Atlantic to the West.

Six kilometres from the village is the town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie – or rather, the linked towns of Oloron and Sainte-Marie. In Oloron there is a market on Friday mornings and in Sainte Marie a charming cathedral with a magnificent porch and finely sculpted gargoyles.

France is proud of its regions, its regional food and wine, and the Béarn is one of the prettiest regions in the country, offering excellent wines, fine cuisine and unforgettable beauty.