There are two main strands to Pau’s past: In 1553 it was the birthplace of King Henri IV, one of France’s favourite monarchs.
Go into the Château de Pau for his back-story and see the turtle shell in which he was cradled as a baby.
The other thread can be picked up in the mid-1800s when the rich Scottish doctor Alexander Taylor recommended Pau for its healthy climate.
It quickly became a resort for well-heeled Brits, with a racecourse, golf club and extravagant palaces and hotels.
But whatever you do, you have to sit back at the Boulevard des Pyrénées and see those awesome peaks lined up on the horizon over the Ossau Valley.
Lets explore the best things to do in Pau:
1. Château de Pau
King Henri IV was born in this castle on December 8 1553, and has always had a special place in French hearts.
He was also the first monarch from the House of Bourbon, a line that would give France all its subsequent kings.
You can’t go self-guided so will need to join a group if you want to see the interior.
Tours are offered in French or Spanish: They last an hour and leave no stone unturned, showing you around a sequence of opulently decorated rooms with coffered ceilings, gilded walls, precious paintings some of France’s finest Gobelins tapestries.
If language is a problem then there’s a booklet with English information.
One of the high points is the king’s birthplace, which still has the turtle shell in which he was cradled as an infant.