Curiosities of Pau!!!

I am bringing you back to a wonderful city of the old region of Béarn in the south of France, Pau. This was my cruising town on my way to Spain for many years until finally step in and saw Pau, even a tour de France race, It has been sort of home base in the area thereafter for us. Pau  is in the department 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

I have written several posts on Pau, and decided to do this one on two curiosities briefly mentioned before but needs more exposure me think. Anyway, Pau is a delight to visit, worth the detour. Here is my take on the City Hall/Saint Louis theater, Villa Lawrance, and the Bernadotte museum.

The Pau City/Town Hall and the Saint-Louis theater are part of a building located on Place Royale. The latter, built from 1854 to 1862, accommodated the theater in 1862, then the municipal services, from 1878. The current location of the building is initially intended to accommodate a new church dedicated to the worship of Saint-Louis. On April 28, 1876, the municipal council therefore ratified the decision to buy the Saint-Louis theater and its outbuildings. In the fall of 1878, after development work, the City/Town Hall took possession of the premises and still occupies them today.


The Saint-Louis theater opened its doors in 1862, replacing the main theater in the city which was then located at number 4 of the Place Gramont, now destroyed, and of which only the facades and a few decorations remain. The 300-seat room is decorated in the Second Empire style.  The theater, now 430 seats strong, reopened in 1984, and hosted a number of shows and performances until it was closed again on October 25, 2013, when the condition of the hall was again deemed worrying, following the fall of part of the decor of one of the boxes, In June 2016, reopens again ,and now hosts both dance performances, concerts and plays, as well as conferences.   

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the theater

The city of Pau on its cultural richness

The beautiful Villa Lawrance housed the Robert Poplawski Institute of Legal and Economic Studies between 1946 and 1970, housed the Faculty of Law, Economics and Management before the creation of the University of Pau and the Pays de Adour ,then the administrative services of the presidency before a dedicated building was built on the campus in 1994. Since 2002, it has been the headquarters of the Cercle Anglais or English Circle of Pau and houses its collections. Villa Lawrance was built in 1840 and was then called Villa Schlumberger. It was later purchased by the Lawrence family and took its present name. At the time it was a villa in the countryside, the city of Pau not yet extending that far. The Lawrance bought land around to make a park. This was bought by the city of Pau during WWII.


The English Circle was founded in 1824 by a few English living in Pau such as Lord Selkirk or Lord Oxenden. First settled in Place Royale, the circle moved to the Hotel Gassion, then to the Trespoey and Riquoir villas before finally joining the villa Lawrance at the initiative of the city/town hall of Pau. The Musée de Pau Ville Anglaise presents a collection of photographs, as well as rare books dedicated by their authors to certain members of the circle. You can also see bronzes there, as well as a set of paintings by Paul Mirat, Blocaille or Alan Sealey for example. 

The parc Lawrance is one of the public gardens in the city of Pau. It is a park featuring ancient trees, such as cedars of Lebanon, lawns and paths. There is a play area for children. It is located in a district with many English villas of the 19C, not far from the Pau exhibition center or the Place de Verdun.

The city of Pau on its parks/gardens

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the parc Lawrence

We took a peek at the  Bernadotte museum, at the limits of the neighborhood of Hédas ; the birthplace of this Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte chosen by Napoleon I to secure the continuation of the royal house of Sweden in 1818 he finally became the king of Sweden as Charles XIV, and king of Norway as Charles III. Today the current king Gustav XVI is a 7th line descendant Bernadotte. The Musée Bernadotte is here since 1951.


There were many efforts to do a museum on his native house but difficulties always prevail the opening, Many years passed and many changes, due to the dilapidated buildings in Rue Neuve des Cordeliers ,today Rue Bernadotte, modified the appearance of the “Maison Balagué”, the only one that remained intact. On the occasion of the passages in Pau of the kings of Sweden or the members of the royal family of Sweden, the birthplace of the Marshal was the object of a visit. The house was visited in 1872 by Queen Joséphine, in 1878 by Gustave V, then prince royal, in 1892 by Oscar II, who returned in 1899, and finally by the Duke of Sudermania, future King Charles XIII of Sweden. In 2018, to celebrate the bicentenary of the accession of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte to the Swedish throne, Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited the restored birthplace of the founder of the dynasty,


In 1935, the birthplace of Bernadotte was poorly maintained and in poor condition. A company, the “Association des Amis du Musée Bernadotte”, was therefore set up in order to safeguard the interests of the house. The mayor at the time,took over the file in order to allow the museum to reopen in good conditions. He thus contacted the Swedish ambassador in France to set up a viable financial project. The whole of the birthplace and the collections belonging to the Bernadotte Society were therefore bought back half by the city and the other half by the Swedish crown.
The Lundberg donation still makes up the bulk of the Bernadotte museum’s collections, even if successive additions have been made by the various kings of Sweden. The life of Bernadotte is thus evoked, from the young soldier of the king, to the general of the French revolution, then marshal of Napoleon, to the crown prince and finally king of Sweden and Norway. The museum contains paintings, miniatures, watercolors, drawings, engravings, snuffbox, porcelain, rare books and prints, coins and medals, dispatches, personal memories (saber, spurs, gloves) , etc. The letter in which Napoleon authorizes Bernadotte to respond favorably to his appointment as Crown Prince of Sweden is part of the collection on display at the museum. The royal iconography is also very present with many documents, engravings and paintings, evoking the reign of Charles XIV Jean (Bernadotte), and his successors.

The city of Pau on the Musée Bernadotte

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the museum

There you go folks, a dandy collection of curiosities of Pau. Again, a wonderful city to visit, worth the detour, we love it. Hope you enjoy this brief introduction to the City Hall/Saint Louis Theater, parc/Villa Lawrance, and Bernadotte’s museum of Pau!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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3 Responses to “Curiosities of Pau!!!”

  1. I love your writings. You put so much details, it feels as if I am going round the areas. Would love visit one day.

    Liked by 1 person


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