TravelWiseEurope.com

Short Trip to Pau

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.

First view of the Pyrenees from the car A65
Hotel Park Beaumont from the park
Lots of fall color from the patio outside the hotel
One of the many towers around the city, this one on the edge of the park
Can a park be complete without swans.

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.

The Seasoned and aged ham was the best.
Enjoying Lunch at Oscar and Owen.

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 fountains were all synced to erupt at different times. Umbrellas added a nice touch, Oct Breast Cancer month.

The architecture of the houses is quite different than Bordeaux. Here they are wood framed and stuccoed.

Notice the steep roofs, they get snow here.
Every time I see this type of covered walkway, I think of Venice and the
“bridge of Sighs”
The Eglise Saint Martin towers above the city
Jan loves to catch me photographing something I feel is interesting.
The altar at Saint Martin’s Church was quite lovely. Actually recent by European standards, build in the early 1800’s.

While Hazy the walk along the Blvd des Pyrenees was really nice
Snow on the mountain tops in Oct. Skiing will be soon
Blvd. des Pyrenees
Jan by the fountain along the Blvd. des Pyrenees as we approach the Chateau

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.

The tour began in the kitchen ( two huge fireplaces0 and this display of the chateau and the immediate surrounding area.
Originally the room for the Officers of the Guard it eventually became a small dinning room. The two statues were meant to go to Paris, but ended up here. Believe it or not they are paper mâché , then carefully painted. Very fragile as the statue on the right has lost a finger due to tourists. While here I will mention our guide had a tough time controlling the group. Many tried to touch things behind the ropes, and a few even sat on ancient chairs when there was a bench right next to the for that purpose. The guide was continually scolding someone in French.
Henry IV
The Room of the Hundred Covers. This table could seat 100 quests, the chairs date to 1841. The statue at the end of the hall sits in what was originally a fireplace, There was one behind me as well.
Just a few of the tapestries.
Hard to get a good angle due to the chandelier
Remarkable how well preserved all the tapestries were.
The Grand Staircase is one of the first examples of a Renaissance staircase south of the Loire. Built between 1529-1535 is had straight flights separated by landings with valued arches.
The base of every arch was decorated with carved figures.
On the tour, there are actually two rooms in this area. At one time it was all one great room, but later divided into a waiting room and then this salon that became the place of the kings Throne.
Looking in the other direction of the same room.
Just another of the wonderful tapestries, displaying life in the times of King Henry IV
The Bedroom used by Napoleon III, it was originally designed and created by Louis-Philippe. Tapestry was created from 1688-1689. The curtains are from the same damask made in Lyon for the throne of Pope Pius VII.

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.

Cradle of Henry IV
History of Henry IV carved into the area above the fireplace mantel.

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.

Confit with potato, etc.
The French are very creative with desserts. Pear, with pear sorbet, and pear sauce. Loved this.
Enjoying a sunny day at Chez Olive
WE choose Le Dauphen for dinner. Wonderful seafood place. Decor very ship like. Oysters from Bretagne follows by a local paella. Discovered a local white wine from the Jurancon AOC. Dry white which is unusual in that most of the wines from this region are sweat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.