May 23 - Pau and Jurancon
day was spent exploring Pau. We began with a lecture by Gabrielle
on Pau. Here are more cribbed notes from the Internet:
The site was fortified in the 11th century to control the ford
across the river, Gave de Pau. It became the seat of the viscounts
of Béarn. Pau was made capital of Béarn in 1464. During
the early 16th century, the Château de Pau, made more habitable
by Gaston III, count of Foix, became the residence of the kings
of Navarre, who were also viscounts of Béarn. Pau was birthplace
of Henry IV of France. His mother, Jeanne d'Albret, crossed France
to ensure her son would be born there. The baby's lips were moistened
with wine and rubbed with garlic shortly after birth. When Henry
IV left Pau to become King of France, he remarked to local notables
that he was not giving Béarn to France but giving France
to Béarn. Napoleon III refurbished the château and
Pau added streets of Belle Époque architecture, before fashion
transferred to Biarritz. Pau is still a centre for winter sports
and equestrian events, with a steeplechase. Charles XIV of Sweden
was born in Pau, in 1763. The Château de Pau was once used
by Napoleon as a holiday home during his period of power. It has
a small garden that was tended by Marie Antoinette when she spent
much of the summers in the city. The château now is considered
a French historical monument and contains a nice collection of tapestry.
The English discovered Pau and its climate and left their imprint,
partly because Wellington left a garrison there in 1814 towards
the end of the Peninsular War. Vacationing British began arriving
before the railroad established the Boulevard des Pyrenées,
the first full 18-hole golf course in Europe - laid out in 1856-1860,
and still in existence - and a real tennis court.
had lunch at our hotel restaurant and then walked to see the Chateau.
We had a special guide there although Gabrielle accompanied us as
well. The Chateau is on the Boulevard des Pyrenees, running east-west
along heights and with a view toward the Pyrenees. That day there
was a auto race and we could hear the engines but could not see
very well from the Boulevard.
returned then to the hotel and at 5:30 left for visit to a winery
in Jurancon. This is an area some distance to the south and the
bus really took us out into the rural area. After about 45 minutes
we got to Domaine Bellegarde and were greeted by an extremely friendly
dog named Kelly. We spent some time just walking around the site.
They had a sort of viewing monument on a nearby hilltop identifying
the sights in different directions. The gardens were beautiful as
were the panoramic views. After the obligatory viewing of vats and
kegs, with detailed discussion of the reason their approach is the
best one, we went in for dinner and wine. Both were just fine and
we returned to the hotel full and happy.
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