The history of Pau is marked by the birth of Henry of Bourbon 13 December 1553 in the castle of his grandparents.He gained access to the throne of France in 1589 under the title of Henry IV.The village which was built around the castle took advantage of its strategic position as well as the protection of the Viscounts of Béarn to widely develop over the following centuries.Pau became the capital of Béarn in 1464, thus becoming the political, cultural and economic centre of this small State which continued to defend its independence from the neighbouring French, English and Spanish peoples.The city plays a leading role for Béarn but also for a wide segment of the Adour area.An administrative capital, it boasts a dense economic fabric including service activities.
This position gives it an exceptional panorama across the mountain range of the Pyrenees as well as on the hillsides of Jurançon.
Pau today is a city of about 80,000 inhabitants, the main urban area of Pau and of the Communauté d'agglomération Pau Béarn Pyrénées with 30 neighbouring communes which carry out local tasks together.
The Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, founded in 1972, accounts for a large student population.
Gave is the name given to a torrent in the Pyrenees.
The Gave de Pau, which becomes a torrent when mountain snow melts, takes its source in the Cirque de Gavarnie and is the main tributary of the Adour, into which it empties after 175 kilometres (109 mi).
The name of its people is Palois and the motto of Pau is in Latin: Urbis palladium et gentis ("protective of the city and its people").