About Pau in Pyrenees Atlantiques
Pau can be found 50km from the Pyrénées and 100km from the Atlantic Ocean and it is the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-west France.
Set on a hilltop at about 200 metres, the city overlooks the Gave de Pau river, of which its source is one of the most beautiful spots in the Pyrénées: the Cirque de Gavarnie, a glacial amphitheatre.
Pau is well known for the Château de Pau, a castle in the city centre where King Henry IV of France was born in 1533. Today it is home to a national museum, but once upon a time was also used as a holiday residence by Napoléon.
While Napoléon might have started the trend for Pau being a popular second home destination, with its excellent location and lifestyle opportunities it is also a place where many choose to re-locate to permanently. Here you are a short drive from the sea, the Pyrénées and Spain.
The A64 means that by road you can connect directly with Toulouse, France’s fourth biggest city, and to its international airport. Pau is very well served by other airports with the local Pau-Pyrénées airport just 20km away and Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport a 45-minute car journey. There is also Biarittz airport at around 100km away. The SNCF connects Pau with Paris in under six hours and several trains run this route daily.
While the largest part of the Basque country is in Spain, the region stretches from Bilbao to Bayonne and has so much to offer from secluded coves to sandy beaches, reliable surf, hiking, golf as well as mouth-watering cuisine. Favourites include tuna pots, Tolosa bean dishes, pintxos (small snacks like tapas) and, of course, the piment d’espelette, a chile grown in Espelette that has replaced black pepper in the local cooking.
Pau is well known for its confectionary, especially the coucougnettes, chocolate-covered almonds in a pink almond paste. Restaurants serve up garbure and pipérade – a dish based on tomatoes and green peppers, and Jurançon wine (a wine region in the foothills of the Pyrénées).
From classic manor houses to stylish country homes, Pau has a vast selection of property to offer. For those looking for a complete lifestyle change for the whole family modern hilltop villas and renovated farmhouses are available. If a second home is required then country homes can be found outside of Pau as can apartments in the city centre.
A little further afield, Orthez, north-west of Pau, is a popular place for property investment. Biarritz is also very popular with buyers as its airport is located just a few kilometres from this luxurious seaside town and under 20km from the Spanish boarder.
Pau is a year-round destination as it can provide hiking and thermal spas in the summer and high quality skiing throughout the winter, with resorts such as Gourette and Cauterets less than an hour away in the car.
Gourette is a modern resort with around 30km of pistes across an area spanning almost 300 hectares. Cauterets offers two ski domains, the Cirque du Lys and the Pont d’Espagne, a truly breathtaking site in the Pyrénées National Park.