Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques


Pau is a commune overlooking the Pyrenees, and capital of the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France. The name of its people is Palois in French, and paulin in Occitan. The motto of Pau is in Latin: Urbis palladium et gentis (“protective of the city and its people”).

 Mayor (2020–2026)François Bayrou (MoDem)
Area131.51 km2 (12.17 sq mi)
Population (2017-01-01)77,130
 Density2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Palois (fr), paulin (oc)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)



Pau is 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 km (31 miles) from the Pyrenees. Spain is 50 km (31 mi) away as the crow flies.

Pau is located 200 km (124 mi) west of Toulouse, 30 km (19 mi) from Tarbes and Lourdes, 25 km (16 mi) from Oloron.


Higher education


The city of Pau has a long academic tradition, as a university was established in Pau in 1722. Now, Pau is the second student city of Aquitaine. The city has 17,000 students and 3,900 researchers. It has a multidisciplinary university (law, economics, sciences, social sciences and humanities), an IUT, an IAE, several schools of engineers, business schools and art schools.

The university group and Pyrénées Oceanes Research Campus unites the Groupe ESC Pau, five schools of engineers, the Institute of Business Administration (IAE) and the University of Pau and Pays de l’Adour (UPPA), with 15,000 students.

Colleges and other institutions

  • School of Engineering University of Pau,
  • School of engineering in computer science, the EISTI grew around the PBC (Pau Broadband Country).
  • École nationale supérieure of oil and engines (ENSPM-IFP) office of Pau.

Research centres

The university has 34 teams of research including 11 teams associated with the CNRS and INRA team. Some groups of public or private research teams:

  • The Institute for Research on Companies and Development (IRSAM)
  • The IRMAPE, the Centre for Research in Management and on the organisation of the Groupe ESC Pau
  • The Institute of Environmental Biology Aquitaine South (IBEAS)
  • Psychosensory Properties of Materials (2psm) founded by the École des mines of Alès and the University of Pau.



  • The Centre Hospitalier de Pau is composed of three home centres arranged as follows:
    • The François Mitterrand Hospital
    • The Hauterive Centre, including the functional rehabilitation service, care and medical rehabilitation unit and the nuclear medicine service, among others
    • The Jean-Vignalou Centre, intended for Gerontology
  • A specialised facility, Centre Hospitalier des Pyrénées, situated on Avenue du Général-Leclerc, is a public establishment of mental health.


Pau, became the historic capital of Béarn in 1464, offering the gastronomic specialities of the southwest and typical Béarnese or Palois dishes:

  • Garbure, a comforting soup made from cabbage, beans, confit of goose, ham or bacon
  • The confit, breast and other dishes derived from duck or goose
  • The ventrèche, slice of dried pork belly, eaten plain or accompanied by a fried egg
  • The broye, thick and salty boiled maize flour, with added whey or goose fat, consumed as fried slices from the pan, or cubes with coffee with milk
  • The trinxat, a local mountain dish consisting of mashed cabbage and potatoes mixed in smoked bacon, which is fried
  • The palombe, regional name for wood pigeon, a migratory bird that crosses the southwest region, cooked in a sauce or roasted

Restaurants and bars

Pau has more than 160 restaurants, found in the historic city center (Château, Hédas), and beyond. The Béarnaise capital has several quarters which are particularly animated at night, including the quarters of the triangle, the Boulevard des Pyrénées and also Rue des Orphelines.


The town of Pau is marked by a strong cultural identity, with the presence of a French-Occitan bilingual school (calandreta Paulina). The city has, however, received foreign influences of major importance (English, Spanish, Russian, Brazilian) and remains very open to the outside with a large English student community, along with the presence of Dutch, Portuguese, Spaniards and Moroccans.

The bandas, bodegas (drinking places with typical animation) and Béarnese singing groups are numerous including NadauLo Cèu de Pau and Balaguera. Since 2005, the city hosts the festival Hestiv’oc which is the grand festival of Occitania. The University of Pau, Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, also often hosts concerts and cultural events.

Centres and cultural facilities

  • The Zénith 
  • The Palais Beaumont 
  • The Le Méliès Cinema
  • The La Pépinière [Nursery] Socio-cultural centre.


  • National Museum of the Château de Pau
  • Musée des beaux-arts de Pau 
  • Musée Bernadotte 
  • The Béarnese Museum
  • Museum of paratroopers 
  • Pau, land of aviation, at the Palais Beaumont, a permanent exhibition that traces the history of aviation in Pau.

Exhibition spaces

  • The Palais Beaumont 
  • The Pavillon des Arts 
  • The peristyle of the town hall 
  • The André-Labarrère media library
  • The Nouste-Henric Hall
  • The Chapel of the Perseverance
  • The Cité des Pyrénées
  • The department hall

Theatres and orchestral formations

  • The Orchestra of Pau Pays de Béarn
  • Two amateur orchestras: The Ossau and the EOP (Orchestral Ensemble of Pau)
  • The Théâtre Saint-Louis, historic theatre of Pau near the Place Royale and the city hall
  • The Saragosse Theatre, a subsidised dance-theatre Pau/Béarn with plural spaces in the Saragosse Quarter
  • The Tam-Tam Theatre
  • The Artscène Theatre
  • The Théâtre du Monte-Charge
  • The Bourbaki Theatre (it closed its doors in 2014)


The city of Pau is home to many festivals throughout the year, including:

  • Carnival Biarnés
  • Festival Hestiv’Oc, a “festival of music and culture of the south” established in 2005
  • Festival CulturAmerica
  • Ciné Cité
  • L’Été à Pau [The summer in Pau]
  • Festival access(s), created in 2000 (electronic culture)
  • Festival Amplitudes
  • Festival Beta Project


Pau has many sports facilities and several high level sport clubs. Since 1930, Pau has become a mainstay of the Tour de France cycling race.

Perhaps the highest-profile sporting event is the Étoiles de Pau (“Stars of Pau”). Held annually in October.


  • The Stade du Hameau
  • The Palais des Sports de Pau


From the 1950s to the 1990s Pau depended on the production of natural gas and sulphur which were discovered nearby at Lacq. In the 21st century, the mainstays of the Béarn area are the oil business, the aerospace industry through the helicopter turboshaft engines manufacturer Turbomeca, tourism and agriculture.

Pau is the second economic hub of Aquitaine, after Bordeaux. A university city, it has concentrated several industrial centres and centres of important research in the fields of petroleum engineering and geosciences, petrochemistry and chemistry, food, automotive, aeronautics and computer science.

The municipality is partially within the Ossau-Iraty AOC area.


Pau also concentrates the regional headquarters of many service companies as capital of the Pays de l’Adour region: The banking sector (CA Pyrénées Gascogne, Banque Pouyanne), insurance (MIF, MSA), construction (Groupe MAS, Cance) and business services (APR, YSA, Vitalicom).

Pau is also a city of congress, symposia and business travelers with infrastructure allowing it to host national and international events. The Palais Beaumont Congress Centre, a casino, a park of exhibitions and 4-star hotels (Parc Beaumont Hotel, Villa Navarre Hotel) all help to provide this infrastructure.

The town of Pau is home to many corps of the army.


The town of Pau is located 45 minutes from the Pyrenees and its ski resorts. It is a holiday resort for tourists to the Pyrenees (hiking, climbing, skiing) and Spain. Located near the Basque and Landes coasts (an hour’s drive), it is possible to practice water sports (surfing, diving, sailing, etc.).

Pau is the gateway to the five Béarnese valleys that receives winter sports tourists (the ski resorts of Gourette, Artouste, Le Somport and La Pierre Saint-Martin), spas (Eaux-Bonnes and Eaux-Chaudes) and green tourism (white-water sports, cultural and gastronomic tourism).

Its location at the foot of the Pyrenees gives Pau an exceptional panorama of the chain of the Pyrenees, in particular from the Boulevard des Pyrénées which is a long avenue of 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi), facing the Pyrenees mountain range.



The railway station Gare de Pau offers connections to Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse and Paris, and several regional destinations.


The international airport of Pau-Pyrénées, located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the north-west in the commune of Uzein, is connected directly to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Paris-Orly, as well as airports in Marseille, Lyon, London, Southampton and Amsterdam.


The Funiculaire de Pau, opened in 1908, provides, free of charge, a link between the city centre and Boulevard des Pyrénées to the railway station in the valley.


The free shuttle bus, Coxitis, circles the city centre



Town Hall of Pau
Place Royale, 64000 Pau
05 59 27 85 80