vue aérienne de Pau
Pau, castle and historic centre

This multimedia tour will guide you through an exploration of the cultural heritage of Pau’s historic centre using videos and audio commentary. These will lead you on a chronological tour from the birth of a medieval market town around the castle to the construction of the Boulevard des Pyrénées and the city’s transformation in the 19th and 20th centuries, designed as a balcony looking onto the Pyrenees mountains.

1h30
2,5 km
Steps
Departure :
1.
Castles

Begin at the start of the city’s history with this video. Pau’s origins go back to the construction of a defence on this rocky crag, which became the residence of the kings of Navarre after undergoing multiple transformations.

2.
Landscape, garden and agricultural heritage

From the castle gardens to the villa parks that are now public, Pau has a number of green spaces that were designed for walking and are planted with rare varieties and hundred-year-old trees. In this clip, discover this particular feature of the city that is at the heart of its identity.

3.
Buildings and public life

Here you are in front of the seat of the former Parliament of Navarre. This is an opportunity to understand the purpose of this institution, which was established during the reign of Louis XIII after Béarn and Lower Navarre were incorporated into the French Crown.

4.
Houses, mansions and dwellings

The Hôtel Peyré is one of the oldest private mansions in Pau. These luxury homes belonged to important figures who were mainly members of the Parliament of Navarre.

5.

This 17th-century private mansion belonged to the Peyré family, one of whose members inspired the character Monsieur de Tréville in one of the most famous works of French literature. Which work was this?

6.
Arrangement of public space, Activities and landscape

In this video, we explain how the city developed over the centuries to the east, then to the north, beyond its rocky crag, by gradually exceeding the limitations of an uneven, mountainous setting.

7.
Arrangement of public space

Listen to a brief history of this historic quarter of Pau. Once burdened with a bad reputation, it has now become a pleasant and family-friendly place to stroll following a vast urban redevelopment campaign.

8.

Who owned this house, which has a tympanum decorated with a lion lying down in bas-relief?

9.
Arrangement of public space

There was once a convent on this square, and it was around this that the entire quarter developed. It was established in the 17th century as part of the Counter Reformation, which had significant consequences for Pau.

10.

The inside of Saint-Jacques Church is decorated with many painted scenes (motifs of flowers, people and scenes). Who is the white knight represented in this scene?

11.
Memory and destinies of men

You are standing in front of the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a Pau native destined for an extraordinary future. Having started life simply as the son of a magistrate, he went on to become King of Sweden after a swift ascent through the ranks of Napoleon’s army. Listen to his incredible story!

12.
Buildings and public life

In this video, admire all the hidden charms of this former entertainment and performance space from the 19th century that was converted into a town hall. Make a note to look at the very beautiful boardroom, formerly the ballroom, and also the Italian-style theatre, which still holds performances.

13.
Religious buildings and communities

This 19th-century church is a work of art in every respect and was entirely designed by the architect Emile Boeswillwald, including the internal decorations in their gleaming colours. In this video, we will tell you all about this structure, which is worth visiting in person.

14.
Buildings and public life

The grand hotels and luxurious villas in Pau are the legacy of a century as a resort town, when the city was hugely successful as a favourite destination for a cosmopolitan, high-society clientele. This clip will transport you back to this era, which transformed the city.

15.
Buildings and public life

You are now in front of the first luxury private mansion established in Pau, which faces the Pyrenees and is one of the city’s iconic monuments. Behind its façades lies a unique history that you can discover through this audio guide.

16.
Arrangement of public space

At the bottom of the square runs a canal, on which a lock and an old mill can still be seen. These are evidence of the industrial activity around which the lower level of the city of Pau developed, around the Tour de la Monnaie tower. Listen to the story, which takes you back to the 16th century.

17.

The glass façade of the Hôtel du Département is a huge mirror that reflects the upper level of the city. Which building’s façade can you admire here?

18.
Arrangement of public space

From where you are standing now, you can see the structure of the Boulevard des Pyrénées. This long promenade actually sits on a viaduct that was built in 1900 against the rock face. In this video, discover what lies beneath this iconic balcony over the city!

 

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