Castle of Pau, France.

© MIPImages/Shutterstock

Château de Pau

The Pyrenees

Originally the residence of the monarchs of Navarre, Pau’s castle was transformed into a Renaissance château amid lavish gardens by Marguerite d’Angoulême in the 16th century. Marguerite’s grandson, Henri de Navarre (the future Henri IV), was born here – cradled, so the story goes, in an upturned tortoise shell (still on display in one of the museum’s rooms).

Much restored, the château is now mainly worth visiting for its collections of Gobelins tapestries and Sèvres porcelain, as well as its fine Renaissance architecture.

Admission includes an obligatory one-hour guided tour in French (departing every 15 minutes; the last one commences at 5.45pm), but you can pick up an English-language guide sheet at reception.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Pyrenees attractions

1. Musée Bernadotte

0.22 MILES

This townhouse is the birthplace of one of Napoléon’s favourite generals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (nicknamed ‘Sergent belle-jambe’, on account of his…

2. Rue du Hédas

0.27 MILES

Take a stroll along this revitalised lane for a look at green spaces by day and light installations by night.

3. Musée des Beaux-Arts

0.58 MILES

Works by Rubens and El Greco both figure at Pau’s fine-arts museum, but the museum’s prize piece is a famous Degas canvas, A New Orleans Cotton Office,…

4. Rébénacq

9.46 MILES

Rébénacq is one of the few bastides (fortified towns) of the Pyrenees, built in 1347 by a lieutenant of Gaston Fébus, the 11th Count of Foix. Like all…

5. Castet

15.7 MILES

Perched precariously on a glacial outcrop, this hilltop village boasts a 12th-century keep and a truly magnificent valley view. From the belvédère …

6. Grottes de Bétharram

16.38 MILES

Grottes de Bétharram is a network of subterranean caverns that has been carved out from the limestone, glittering with impressive formations of…

7. Bielle

16.66 MILES

The former ‘capital’ of the valley, Bielle is a beautiful village with many fine 15th- and 16th-century houses, linked together via a guided walk.

8. Falaise aux Vautours

18.01 MILES

The griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) was once a familiar sight over the Pyrenees, but habitat loss and hunting have taken their toll on these strange,…