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Destination Guide: Pau

The soaring Pyrenees and fin-de-siècle nostalgia
Ex-pat Victorian Brits left a legacy of elegant architecture and leafy riverside parks in compact Pau. Nowadays, the student population lends the town a youthful vibe. With mountains on its doorstep, Pau is a popular base for hiking and skiing.

Food and Drink

Pyrenean produce and exotic flavours. Classic Béarnais restaurants and Basque tapas bars line the traffic-free lanes around the château and Place Royale. Indulge in regional duck, pork or foie gras dishes, or try Henri IV's rustic chicken favourite poule au pot. Pau's ethnic communities also influence local menus with fragrant North African recipes, like spicy tagines and lamb couscous.

Sightseeing and relaxation

A royal birthplace and mountain views. The aptly named Boulevard des Pyrénées opens a window onto a 150km vista of frosty Pyrenean peaks. Pau's grand Belle Epoque buildings and parks are attractions in their own right, but it's the regal château where Henri IV was born that steals the show, with its opulent Renaissance detail and rich tapestry collection.

Shopping

Basque antiques and sweet treats. Hunt for bargains at antique stores around the château. Shops on pedestrianised lanes Cordelières and Serviez are well stocked with speciality chocolates and conserves. Local award-winning jam-meister Francis Miot cooks up sweet spreads like peach, raspberry and apricot jam Favorite du Roi at la Féerie Gourmande in nearby Uzos.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Vibrant bars and genteel tea rooms. At smart bars around the château sip Madiran and Jurançon wines to live music. Lively clubs cluster in ';le Triangle' area and along the Boulevard des Pyrénées. Tea and cake at a salon de thé makes a refined prelude to an evening of classical music by the Orchestre de Pau at the Palais Beaumont.