The Grand Prix IS a local custom
Grand prix de Pau.
Last week end of May and first week end of June, the traffic in Pau is more congested as usual : a part of the streets are used for the Grand Prix. Pau is one of the last places where car races are run in the streets of the city (like Monaco).
In the past great champions won (or lost) in the Pau grand prix (Jim Clark, Graham hill, and others) and among the recent ones Montoya, Hamilton (future great?) also ran in Pau.
The last week end of may, it is the vintage car races and the first week end of June, it is the modern races, with some races being part of world or Europe championships.
On of the most important races is the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship), with cars of the type on the main picture ; the organiser of the grand prix is the Automobile club Basco Bearnais (picture 2); the circuit is probably a very technical and interesting one ( sharp curves but also steep climbs and descents), and the cars roar through the Parc Beaumont (picture 3) located on the high part of the circuit, down to the rail station area and up again. This year was the first time I watched the grand prix, and I am always amazed by the dexterity of the pilots who make the curves strait (picture 4), but sometimes it does not work and this pilot had less luck (picture 5).
Entrance fees: from 10 to 50 Euro per day, depending where and when.
Asac Basco Béarnais
1 bd Aragon
tel. 05 59 27 31 89
fax. 05 59 27 61 69
Rugby and Bulls
South west France seems to have rugby everywhere. Of course it produces many strong teams.
Also, in most towns there is a bull ring, not for the killing of bulls I understand, but the running of them.
Take for example the small town of Hagetmau. It has a very fine sports complex with rugby stadium, bull ring, various courts & pitches, a skateboard park and a fifty metre pool!
Given the size of Hagetmau this is an exceptional feat & shows just how seriously they take their sport in the region.
The Palais Beaumont is another landmark in Pau.
At the Eastern end of the Boulevard, you arrive in sight of the Palais Beaumont.
This classique-baroque-art deco (not to be confused with art nouveau) mixture style palace has a 100 years history, linked to the dynamism of the mayors of Pau at the time. Aristide de Montpezat acquired properties from aristocrat families in order to create a public park and a place for cultural events and entertainment and leisure for the Pau residents and visitors. The Palais Beaumont was formerly known as Villa Beaumont, and became Palais Beaumont after renovation works in 2000.
Architect Emile Bertrand (creator of the Bois de Boulogne, (Paris) greenhouses), build this villa in that special style, with the purpose of capturing light and keeping some confidentiality to the library and museum visitors. After the recent renovation, I can understand what he meant.
Main picture shows the southern side in the morning light, reflecting in a wading pond in front.
The picture 2 shows one of the campaniles from inside (many roofs are of glass), and the picture 3 shows both campaniles on the classique-baroque general style and layout of the palace viewed from south.
The main entrance is on the North west side. A closer view shows the exuberant decoration of the campaniles (picture 4) and the renovation has used trompe-l’oeil techniques (picture 5) for decoration.
Palais Beaumont is presented on the website below
For history, you may have a look at this website.
General information on Palais Beaumont:
Contact : Le Palais Beaumont, Parc Beaumont F 64000 PAU
Tél : +33 (0) 559 112 000 Fax : +33(0) 559 112 001
Site internent : http://www.paucc.com
It seems that Pau's largest churches were built in the latter half of the 19th century, when neo-Gothic architecture was all the rage. Just like the Église Saint-Martin, the Église Saint-Jacques, which is built in the northern, newer part of Pau, is a massive neo-Gothic structure that dominates the end of Rue Bernadotte. This appears to be part of a large-scale reconstruction, when the city fathers decided that they would build over Pau's romanesque heritage hulking, cavernous neo-Gothic churches and neo-Classical buildings for the civil administration. In any case, the Église Saint-Jacques, in my opinion, is not as impressive as its contemporary Église Saint-Martin. Perhaps it is the fact that the latter was built in an area that is dominated by older buildings, but this church just feels more modern than Saint-Martin, and less impressive because of it. It does have the same beautiful stained glass, although less of it, and it is brighter inside than the Église Saint-Martin. All in all, however, I found less reason to hang around in here and see the church than I did at the Saint-Martin, and the traffic and noise from the busy shopping area around it doesn't help to give it a sense of tranquility and peace.
Many other wonders in this little church
This old roman church has typical columns with higher middle age style chapiters ( picture 2), representing biblical scenes or the wolf with the snakes coming from his mouth; more modern also with the fir cones.
The throne with its angels in baroque style fits quite well in this austere roman building ( picture 3); notice the painted ceiling.
The church as a whole is well decorated, with the raw stones making the walls, and the different styles of decorations fit quite well. (main picture).
The pillar in the stoup is a bit special, strange, I do not know if kids were baptised there? (picture 4).
This part of the ceiling (Picture5) is from the 16th century, a painting from a local artist , Jerôme Ribère, who also decorated the cathedral of Oloron.
To visit this church in good conditions, it is good to go on an afternoon, at a quiet time; it is possible to switch on the tape player with the explanations located near the small entrance door; this plays the explanations about the church and controls the lights which underline the successive topics; it is well done (in French!, not Bearnese, sorry!); it is about 15 minutes long , and at the end comes an Ave Verum ; listen in the following link:
which just fits with what we have seen so quietly, peace. . . . . .