Chateau Museum of Pau!

And I bring to a place our family gathered for many years, first on my dear late wife Martine’s side for the Tour de France, and later us just even staying there as a base to see more of the region. This is Pau, in dept 64 Pyrénées-Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.  Wonderful Pau is only  about 200 km from Bordeaux and Toulouse and 250 km from Zaragoza in Aragon,Spain. We have come by car always so know they have a train station quite nice and an airport nearby; the roads are super and we have taken them all such as the A64 La Pyrénéenne, A65 autoroute de Gascogne, N117 and N134 and as well the great beltway of Pau the D817 with lots of speed radars so check the sites to avoid them ::)

I have written several post on it, I leave you with my favorite post …on Pau. Wonderful Pau

In the city center of Pau, in old Béarn, there is the old Castle of Pau (and museum too), famous for having seen the birth of the king of France and Navarre, Henri IV. It is accessed by the Pont de Nemours. Its position allows to control the passage on the Gave de Pau (river canyon) located further south below.  The Castle estate is made up of a park, stretching westward along the gave, and by the buildings themselves, located on the east side, whose interior houses a museum. The east entrance of the Castle overlooks the Boulevard des Pyrénées which connects the castle to Beaumont Park!

Begun by the Viscounts of Béarn in the 11C, and in particular by Centulle le Vieux, the castle was gradually built throughout the Middle Ages. It is above all a military work of a typical castle, built at the top of the small hill that dominates the Gave delimited by the ravine of Hédas. In the 12C and 13C, successive dynasties of the Viscounts of Béarn built three towers at this fortress, which were named Mazères, Billère and Montaüser.

Gaston III de Foix-Béarn, better known as Gaston Fébus. This warlord, in a delicate situation since, by his possessions, under the rule of the enemy kingdoms of France and England, makes the Béarn, a united and autonomous region. He developed a network of strongholds in order to defend this territory. The Château de Pau was thus strongly transformed in order to become a imprenable citadel. Fébus built the Brick dungeon, which was thirty-three meters high, and engraved the inscription: “Febus Me Fe” (“Febus Me Fit”, in Béarn language). It also makes the Tour de la Monnaie and the south wing of the castle.

In the Renaissance, the installation of the Court of Navarre in 1512 significantly altered the appearance of the castle. Of fortress It was initially, it becomes a residence of pleasure. Henri Albret resides there accompanied by his wife Marguerite of Angoulême, sister of king François I, and better known as Marguerite of Navarre, author of the Heptahedron. The two sovereigns are at the origin of the development of a terrace in the south as well as the courtyard of honor, the construction of the staircase of honor in place of the old kitchens, the installation of the new kitchens in the north wing and the development of the gardens. The future king Henri IV was born at the château on December 13, 1553. The fame of this king, cradled as a child in a preciously preserved turtle shell, gives the castle, which saw it neither grow nor die and where it made no embellishment, a particular taste.

After the illustrious passage of the future King Henry IV and the death of his grandparents, no ruler will reside in Pau until the 19C. The castle was entrusted to the care of the Gramont family, and was thus maintained, but its ceremonial furniture was gradually removed and a large part of its estate was amputated under the constant pressure of the sprawling city. As to preserved it from demolition under the French Revolution, the castle arrives in a pitiful state when Louis-Philippe decides to fully restore it (same idea for Versailles). He therefore had the idea of restoring from 1838 the castle of the one who reconciled Catholics and Protestants to make it a royal residence, but it will not reside there however. The exterior of the castle is also strongly remodelled with the addition of a mock tower to the West (Louis-Philippe tower) by symmetry to the Mazères tower, the transformation of the fore-guard into a chapel and the destruction of the old fortified corridor. Louis-Philippe, renovator of the Castle as he was of Versailles, exiled in 1848 in England where he died two years later, could never stay in this place.

The restorations of the château stopped in 1848 are taken over in 1852. In 1859, we start the demolition of the East building, then we build the portico. The two medallions representing Henri of Albret and Marguerite de Valois placed above at the same time the construction of the buildings connecting the portico to the Montaüser tower. They restored the chapel, reinforces the staircase of honor, takes over the facade of the wing of the middle (aile du midi), establishes a library in the living room Bernadotte to install the six thousand books bought in 1867 by Napoleon III to the former mayor of Pau. The castle received the visit of Napoleon III but also those, more numerous, of the Empress Eugénie during her multiple cures in the southwest. In 1868, it was the Queen of Spain, on the run, Isabel II and her suite, who lodged at the castle. The Third Republic made the castle a presidential residence before becoming, in 1926, the National museum that it remained and which houses the works preserved since the time of Henri IV and especially during the restoration operated by Louis-Philippe. Indeed as in Versailles, a wonderful castle museum to be seen a must..

Let me tell you about the architecture, which is very rich, will be brief.

The main entrance takes place on the side of the city, by a bridge of bricks and stones built during the reign of king Louis XV, to replace the medieval drawbridge. A three-arch portico was built between 1859 and 1864 in the Renaissance style. Cour d’honneur , the courtyard of the castle has an original form, punctuated with sculptures and medallions at the doors and windows.

Pau

Pau

Towers of the Castle:

The Gaston-Fébus tower in the southeast, also called the dungeon. The latter was completed by Fébus in the 14C, it was built almost entirely in brick on a height of 33 meters. It had like the other towers, a slate blanket that was removed after a storm in 1820. In the part currently facing the Parliament of Navarre, the President of the States of Béarn proclaimed the name of each newly elected sovereign. The tower served as a prison until 1822.

The Mazères and Louis-Philippe Towers at the West End,start with the Mazères Tower is the oldest of the castle since it dates from the 11C while that of Louis-Philippe Tower was built in the middle of the 19C to echo in its twin tower. The two Towers measure each 22.5 meters. The Mazères tower refers to the village of Mazères-Lezons, on the other side of the Gave de Pau.

The  Montaüser tower to the north, the tower was devoid of stairs to its origin in the 12C. The garrison was, thus, tasked to mount the tower with ladders which were withdrawn after climbing. This tower was once a well to forget in which the criminals were locked up.

The Billère Tower in the north-west of the castle refers to the village of Billère in which the good king Henri IV was fed in the Lassensàa house. This tower measures 30 meters high, counting the attic, it was built in the 12C

The Napoleon III Tower, this one was carried out at the end of the 19C under the orders of the emperor in front of the Gaston-Fébus tower. It ends the castle at its northeast end.

Pau Pau

Pau Pau Pau

Blessed in 1843 by the Bishop of Bayonne, the present Chapel was set up in 1840 in the old drawbridge door built in the early 16C. It was located in a small room on the first floor of the south wing of the castle

Pau

Three walls surrounded the castle in order to protect it from the external aggressions constitutes an advanced defense for the castle. It was built by Fébus below the castle in the south, and was used to watch over the Gave de Pau, the Pyrenees and Spain in the distance.

In the 16C, the family of Albret created an exceptional set of gardens and parks around the castle the kings of Navarre thus develop a warren, an orchard, a chesnut grove, a vine, a small and a large park (named lower-level and high-level) the Haute-Plante (high level) is transformed into a public place (present Place de Verdun) as well as a cemetery. The lower level is, in part, preserved and the gardens become accessible to the public in the mid-19C. The lower level now occupies 23 hectares in the heart of the city with parks and gardens, as well as a forest. The present place Gramont occupies the other part of the original lower level.

Pau Pau PAu Pau Pau

Let go inside shall we, again briefly.

The Salle des cent couverts (room of the hundred utensils) has vast proportions allowing to accommodate a rich tapestry décor and a huge table of oak and fir in the large living room The Grand Salon or large reception room of the castle created with the present waiting lounge a large room in the castle where the court (assembly of nobles and clergy) of the Béarn was gathered in the Middle Ages. From the end of the 15C it became the throne room of the kings of Navarre. The coffered ceiling sees the golden figures of the fine gold of Henri IV’s grandparents

Chambre du roi or King’s bedroom,that actually was to be born King Henry IV was probably in the present family lounge on the lower floor. The Turtle shell, the first cradle of the future sovereign, is a central element of the legend of the good King Henri IV. Since the 18C, the latter has been the object of a cult in Béarn, it is solemnly worn during processions in the streets of the city. During the French revolution, a local collector, Mr de Beauregard, decided to substitute the turtle shell with a similar turtle shell that he possessed. He was helped in his company by the concierge Lamaignère on the night of April 30, 1793. The very next day the false shell was burned in the public place. Fortunately the real shell was finally made it in 1814 to king Louis XVIII, many testimonies confirmed the identity of the legendary Cradle.

Apartments of the Empress originally built for the wife of Louis-Philippe, Queen Marie-Amélie, these apartments were finally occupied by the Empress Eugénie. These apartments include a boudoir, a bedroom, a bathroom, a wardrobe, a maid’s room and a dressing room. The empress came many times in the castle of Pau during her travels between Biarritz and the spa resorts of the Pyrenees .

 Family Lounge, this piece was conceived in the 19C in order to be a meeting place for the relatives of the sovereign, family and friends in particular.

The staircase of honor, or grand staircase, serves all the great apartments of the castle. It was made at the beginning of the 16C by the grandparents of Henri IV. It is a Renaissance-style realization, close to the staircases of the castles of Bury ,and Azay-le-Rideau. Marguerite of Angoulême and Henri Albret signed the staircase of their initials H and M throughout the building. Two large vases of red porphyry adorn the bearings, these are gifts made by the King of Sweden Charles XIV Jean, born in Pau, to Louis-Philippe.

The Château de Pau concentrates one of the most important collections of tapestries outside of Paris. It gathers 96 pieces, coming from 17 different draperies, but mainly woven by the Gobelins in Paris. Several main themes are covered by this collection: The hunting scenes, the works of the fields, the noble leisure’s of the 16C, the Royal  parties and, of course, the life of Henri IV. It was only from 1860 that two paintings by Charles-Gustave Housez  and Eugène Giraud on Henri IV were installed in the family lounge, judged too austere.

Pau

Some of the webpages to help you plan your visit to this wonderful castle are

Official Castle webpage : https://en.chateau-pau.fr/

Tourist office of dept 64 on the castle : http://pratique.tourisme64.com/patrimoine-culturel/pau/musee-national-et-domaine-du-chateau-de-pau/PCUAQU064FS0004W.html

Tourist office of Pau Pyrenees: https://www.pau-pyrenees.com/home/notre-patrimoine/une-touche-de-culture/musee-national-du-chateau-de-pau

Nice info in English on the Chateau de Pau: http://www.chateau-pau.com/english/index.htm

There you go another gem of my belle France so many right, yes! And as a base, Pau is great even going into Spain! Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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3 Comments to “Chateau Museum of Pau!”

  1. Lovely photos and thanks for the story. It is nice to get an insight of history, as not all places have details information inside it.

    Liked by 1 person

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