Pau is an important city as it is both Pyrenees-Atlantiques’préfecture (capital city of the department) and Bearn region (a former province of France) major and capital city. It gathers 83,900 inhabitants called the Palois. Pau is renowned to be an English style city, with many manors and flowers in the city centre. Indeed, the city was long dwelt by the English aristocracy and was the place to be when one belonged to the European upper class.
Pau is located 200m-high, which allows locals to have a great view over the mountain river called the Gave de Pau. Also located at the foot of the Pyrenees range the city offers a breathtaking view over the Franco-Spanish Mountains. It is moreover an ideal place to invest if you enjoy skiing in winter and hiking in summer, as it is within 1 hour from the slopes.
Pau is also a University city, which implies that most of its inhabitants are students. The University de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour gathers around 9,000 students and is divided into three different sections: the literary one, the law and economics one and the sciences one.
Property prices in Pau are quite high compared to those of other cities of similar size in Aquitaine such as Mont-de-Marsan, Agen or Villeneuve. The average price for a property in Pau is €2,200 / square metre (around €1,700 / sq m in Agen, Villeneuve, etc.). But the housing prices are much lower in Pau than along the Pyrenees-Atlantiques coastline like in Biarritz or Bayonne. Prices have hugely soared due to the great situation, the pleasant weather and the outstanding Atlantic Ocean beaches - and the renowned resorts.
Since 1998, prices for ancient apartments have constantly increased. Buying this type of property in Pau costs around €1,945 / square metre. You will find approximately the same prices in Pau’s surroundings, in Orthez and Jurançon for instance.
The most expensive place in the area is the pretty village of Billère where you should plan between €1,710 and €2,490 / square metre if you want to buy an ancient apartment.
Below are some interesting numbers concerning property market trends in Pau:
-more than 61% of Pau’s inhabitants rent their property
-86% of the houses are main homes
-78% of the houses are apartments
As Pau is a student city, buy-to-let apartments especially one-room studio flats - are popular investments. It is also a great opportunity to enjoy Pau during the summer holidays, which is definitely the best period to stay in south west France.
Pau is a great place to go. You could not help being seduced by the local properties given the pleasant way of life in this area.
Location: Pau is perfectly located - 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean, 50 km from the Pyrenees mountains and 50 km from Spain. As from many other towns of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department, you can easily go to the sea, ski in the Pyrenees or just visit the countryside - having a car is the perfect way to discover the region at its best. Thanks to Pau-Pyrénées airport - located at only 10 km away from Pau - you will find flights from and to Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam. If you prefer travelling by train, the TGV high speed line serves Paris every day
Château de Pau: Pau’s wonderful castle dominates the city centre. It was first built during the 12th century by Bearn Viscounts, then was the home of the King Henri IV and was finally a royal residence during the Renaissance. It became famous for 2 reasons: King of France Henri IV (16th century) was born in this castle and Napoleon came there to spend his holidays. Nowadays considered part of the historical French heritage, its collection of antique tapestry is worth a visit. From the castle visitors also have a beautiful view over the Pyrenees and the Gave River.
Architectural heritage: religious architecture is omnipresent in Pau. Every taste may be satisfied as the churches date from different periods and have various styles. You will have a wide choice of different architecture style: Romanesque, Gothic / Neogothic, Classical and Baroque art deco. Moreover, as the city was dwelt by English citizens you will also find some protestant churches, such as the ’Christ Church’ and the ‘Saint Andrew’ church. The town-planning is also worth to mention in the city. There are various squares, such as the Clemenceau square, which is a modern square and is the centre of the shopping street, the ‘Spanish’ square, which is a modern square gathering modern buildings, the Gramont square, gathering 18th century monuments, and so on.
Culture and way of life: Pau has a very strong cultural identity dominated by the Occitan culture and language. There are 2 bilingual (Occitan-French) schools, called the Calandreta, and cultural (music above all, but also literature) local groups are very successful. The culture in Pau was also highly influenced by the different ethnic communities coming from England, Spain, Brazil and Russia. As a result, the city is both a cosmopolitan city very welcoming and a city with strong Occitan roots. Attending Pau festivals is a good way to discover its complex identity. There are lots of them, between others you will find: Carnaval Biarnès (an Occitan carnival), Festival Hestiv’Òc (an Occitan festival), Festival Pau ville russe, etc.
Gastronomy and wines: the local gastronomy in Pau is similar to the one in the whole south west of France, and as a result include ducks produces, pork charcuterie, and traditional soups such as the Garbure. Moreover there are some specialties of the city and the area, such as the Pyrenees cheese, made with ewe milk. The most famous one is the Ossau-Iraty one, which is an AOC and is made in the Valley of Ossau. The best way to taste it is with black cherry jam and a piece of bread. Pau area is also famous for its white wine called the Jurançon. it is an AOC wine since 1936 and is produced in only 25 towns and villages. The moelleux (sweet) white wine is the most famous, however they also produce a dry one.
Sport: Pau has always been a very sportive city, and as a result it boasts many sport infrastructures, as well as many good clubs. The city stands out for its basket ball club, which has won 9 times the French championship. It also displays a canoe-kayak (in which there are 3 Olympic champions), a fencing (one of the most prestigious in France), a football, a handball, a baseball clubs. Its rugby team was also amongst the best ones in France, until 2006. There are also two ski and alpinism clubs.
Property Styles and Architecture in Pau
Pau architecture is really diversified. There are many historical monuments, as well as sumptuous villas with private parks and gardens, town houses or even modern buildings.
Seigniorial estates: this kind of houses - often called “castles” because of their huge size - used to be holiday homes, hunting lodges, lay abbeys or temporary residences for rich people who spent some time in Pau. These properties are highly regarded as they are almost always surrounded by great parks and gardens.
Sumptuous villas: you can find plenty of villas scattered in the different parts of the city of Pau. These wonderful properties were built at the 19th century and owned by wealthy foreigners (British, American and Russian people for ex.) who liked the southern lifestyle. These villas are always surrounded by huge parks, courtyards, stables and outbuildings. Other features of these estates are imposing entrance, large windows and cast iron balconies.