Lou Carnaval Biarnes !
Ah, Carnival, nothing very original, and. . . Rio, Nice, Cologne, etc. . . are so well known, what is special here to put in a VT tip?
Carnaval is :
Singing, dancing and merry-making until you drop
Happiness, laughter and tolerance
Dressing as a woman when you're a man
Dressing as a man when you're a woman
Wearing a mask and disguising your voice
Denouncing unfairness and the world's leaders
Making fun of the sour-pusses, the snobs
Letting go, rebelling, making your fantasies run wild
Showing that you're proud to be Bearnais, should you be born here or elsewhere
It is a bearnese carnival, with special protagonists and lasts about one month long ; the city loves her carnival, and there is “something in the air” during carnival time.
The story of Carnaval Biarnes, programs, past carnivals, are on this website I recommend to look at if you come to Pau during carnival time.
Things are happening in the city here or there, program can also be found at the tourist office, and. . . just ask or follow people, specially on evenings.
mainpicture On one Saturday, many people gathered Place de Verdun (Planta Alta in Bearnese), the colourful disguised crowd is there.
picture 2POMMM-POOOOOM-POOOOOoooMMM, how to “translate” the deep sounds of the helicon, and the drums? Many music bands participate to the carnival. The bands are amateurs, of course, gangs of friends, and lots of other groups either make music, or choose a theme for the parade like on next pictures.
picture 3:Tchancayres (stiltwalkers): these are special ones probably telling about death and hell, given the colours and seen only from back, the wolf head.
picture 4: Dancers with colour ribbons, an example among lots of others (next tip, may be)
picture 5: Who are these princesses behind their masks or paintings?
A walk about the old town
I think that I may have given the impression that Pau is a lacklustre attraction. That's not entirely true. Certainly, I wouldn't suggest to anyone that they should plan for a week-long vacation here. Neverthteless, if you are in a comfortable hotel, away from the rowdy and sleazy newer parts of town, I think that it could be quite enjoyable to spend a night or two here. One of my favourite parts of Pau is wandering the small streets behind the Castle. These are not the touristy historic centre of the city, but they probably preserve the old Béarnaise charm far better than the parts suggested by the Tourist Office. They go up and down and have the sort of grey stone buildings that you come to expect from the Western Pyrénées. There are also a few interesting modern structures that have sought to preserve the harmony of the area. The best part to wander in is north of Marechal Joffré, west of the Place de la Libération.
A bit of culture in this garden!
Several statues and monuments can be found here and there in the Parc Beaumont; this strange memorial on the main picture is dedicated to the people who used Latin language, communicated in this language and promoted it; it says approximately: “may all people on Earth master Latin language”. Other cultural objects are the numerous statues of local celebrities, like poet and local Alpine club early member, pyreneist Louis Ducla (picture 2), or Simin Palay (picture 3), Béarnaise writer (he wrote in Béarnaise language).
The “cultural” side I am more sensitive to, is the presence of a Pyrenean garden (picture 4) which displays Pyrenean endemic flora, or the outdoor theatre where the spectators are facing the Pyrenees. (picture 5)
The Museum of Fine Arts is really worth a visit (2
Let us come back outside to see the entrance (main picture), and come back; now we have a look at the first floor.
We are here not far from Spain and this Dehodencq reminds us with this village novillada from the 19th century (picture 2).
There are many paints and sculptures in the same rooms and some view angles are funny like this one (picture 3) where the girls watched by the nun pass by this wonderful nude from Ch. Despiau. . . . or this one, where I wonder if the girl on the painting is imitating the “Rollande” from R. Wlérick (picture 4).
I think the museum curators organised the displays in some way to remind or call from paintings to sculptures like here (picture 5) where the Etcheto “slavery” represented by this black man is highly resembling to the man on the painting of Vernet in the background. . . . .
This museum is really worth a visit!
Entrabce: 3 Euros
A small funicular links the railway station to the Boulevard des Pyrenees, and it is just a bit fun to take it to go one or the other way, as the elevation is not that big; if you have heavy luggage may be; . . . This funicular has been built in 1908, and operates free since 1978. It is open every day (Sundays, afternoon only), and it operates from 6-45 in the morning till 20-00 evenings.
It has been designed with two cabins operating in the same time, one going up and the other going down, crossing on a double track in the middle (picture 3).
In front of the little building on the lower end, is a memorial (picture 4) to Jesus Fernandez Duro a balloon traveller who, the first crossed the Pyrénées by air , in 1906.