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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Other threads on Béarn :
Entre-Deux-Gaves ;
Vic-Bilh ;
Mourenx ;
Vic-Bilh in Wintertime : I,II ;
Le Pourtalet ;

Pau is my hometown : it is mainly a XIXth century town built by British curists except for some streets around the infamous castle ( Henri IV was born there ). It used to be the capital of the former viscounty of Béarn, a little state born out of the breaking-up of the duchy of Gascony.
When the weather is bad, it is a sinister town just like the whole French Pyrenees : blame slate.

I'll begin with the castle district, built on a headland that dominates the Pyrenees and which constitutes the old town.

The Low-Town from the Castle, with the Jurançon suburbs built in the 60s :

The main street of the Castle district :

The Castle, heavily restored in the XIXth century :

The XIXth century St Martin church, with an out-of-context Breton bell tower :

This building marks the beginning of the XIXth century town : let's stay in the Castle district

The Low-Town and the Monnaie Tower in the foreground :

The former castle moat :

Pyrenean slate roofs down the Castle in the "Côte du Moulin" :

The Low-Town :

The Castle Park ( la "Basse-Plante" ) whose trees were cut down some years ago :

Spain is the other side of the Pyrenees :

Roofs in the Castle district : "rue Lassanssaà" :

The road of Spain :

XIXth century buildings from the Castle Park :

This climbing streets leads to "la Haute-Plante", now "Place de Verdun", the former market place :

The XVIIIth century Gramont Place :

St Jacques Church lost its tower bells some years ago because of their instability :

The Castle seen from the bridge linking the Castle district to Gramont Place :

The Hédas ravine and St Jacques district seen from the bridge :

The other side of the bridge :

Coming back to the Castle district :

This street leads to the Hédas ravine :

The Pyrenees with the infamous Pic du Midi d'Ossau :

The rail-station is the Low-Town watched over by the Pic du Midi de Bigorre :

The "funiculaire" that connects the Low-Town with the Castle district :

A building at the Royal Place :

The Gassion hotel, facing the Pyrenees :

End of the tour.

350 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The language is dead. It can't even be heard anymore in markets. The town even has a policy to ban the Gascon language from street names prefering commonplace Rue Victor Hugo to more typical names.

Globally speaking, the town suffered major changes in the 60s with the discovery of the Lacq gasfield. The population has drastically changed with newcomers (Pieds-Noirs, Northern French, Portugueses, Spaniards, Moroccans, ...). But the town never really was overwhelmingly Gascon-speaking in the first place as it had always modeled itself over Paris.

As for the surrounding countryside, it's suffering from rurbanization. The language is also virtually dead. In my housing estate some 15km North of the town, out of 7 families, only two of them are "autochtonous" (including mine) and both of them can't speak a word of Gascon. Within two decades, 1500 years of history will be over. My opinion is that it's not really the fault of the French State : the way of History dictates this sad ending for the language of my ancestors.
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