It had been a few weeks since we had traveled so a short trip to Pau, near the Pyrenees mountains came to be. Once again, we picked up an Enterprise car, programed in the directions and off we went. I will say, that it always seems to take longer to go somewhere the first time, than the return trip. This one was no different. Out past some of the wine regions we have not visited, Graves, Cadillac, Sauterne, etc. Then into the area where pine timber is grown for paper pulp. This portion of the trip was rather boring in that it was overcast, and mile after mile of dense pine forests being grown commercially was rather dreary. But then we broke out of this area and got our first glimpse of the mountains in the distance. The balance of the trip was more interesting with farms, small villages, etc dotting the hills around the new autoroute. It is actually an easy 2 hour drive from the airport in Bordeaux.
So Trip Advisor and Booking.com came thru like champs once again. We stayed at the MGallary Hotel Park Beaumont. The staff was exception and being located on a park gave us a really nice view and quiet time. It is only a short 5 minute walk into the center of the old town.
We enjoyed our first walk into the city taking the longer route so we could enjoy the park and the views over the mountains. It was Monday, so like most cities in France, many of the shops and restaurants were closed for the day. But again like most cities, on and near the main square we found several places for lunch. We noticed that several of the street signs were in French but also Spanish in that we are only 50 KM from the border and many Spanish like to visit Pau. Near the Place Clemenceau, we found a great sports bar, with some really intriguing decor. Rather than random like many in the states, each area was dedicated to a single sport, golf, football, rugby, horse racing etc. For lunch we enjoyed a tomato and mozzo salad ( Caprese) followed by a Planche de Charcuterie It was delicious and the two of us could not finish off all the food.
So after lunch we continued our first exploration of Pau. The main square, mentioned above had a series of spurting fountains, two of which were accessible for kinds to run thru. the Main fountain was really nice.
The architecture of the houses is quite different than Bordeaux. Here they are wood framed and stuccoed.
The next day was our planned tour of the Chateaux in that it was closed on Monday. It is a guided tour in French ( groups of about 20) with English handouts. It was originally just an outpost to watch over the ford of the River Gave. There are only three crossings of this fast moving river in the area. Eventually it became a place of importance with many dignitary families living there and expanding the buildings. King Henry IV was born there, Napoleon III lived there on his visits to Pau. It became a national museum in 1870 after extensive restoration work. The tour took us thru 13 different rooms. Most impressive is the large number of tapestries on display in every room, hung on the walls in a authentic fashion.
After this we passed thru a small anti-chamber used to connect the Kings and the Queens apartments in the Chateau. A short visit in her apartments, but difficult to shoot due to the limited hallway space. Interesting information about her toilet. After this we passed the cabinet Bourbon and Marquet de Vasselot They were used by the military governor during the 19th century. Currently used to display artwork from the 16th to 18th C. No photos allowed in this area
The last room is know as the Bedroom of the King. It is where King HenryIV was born. His mother’s bed, and the “tortoise cradle he slept in.
After the tour we walked around a found a really nice small square with several restaurants. For lunch we choose Chez Olive. The Confit was one of the best we have enjoyed in our 6 years in France. Followed by a wonderful pear desert.