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Pau to Auch

...via Marciac and other villages

sunny 24 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Travels with Jet Set in Europe on SteveJD's travel map.

As in Australia (see other set of blogs!), we are finding the chosen mode of travel a nuisance! On previous trips to France we have stayed in a gite or similar for about a week at a time, exploring the area/s and having time to relax. This time, because of the areas we wanted to cover, we chose to stay in hotels for two nights at a time (with a few exceptions). Consequently, we have had far too little time to really appreciate some places. Nonetheless we have enjoyed what we have seen thus far. We had a very comfortable stay at the Mercure Pau Palais des Sports and on our one full day, drove to the SNCF station where we found parking at a decent rate. We then took the funicular (free of charge) up to the Boulevard des Pyrenees and walked along to the Chateau de Pau. This dates back to the Middle Ages and was the birthplace of Francis IV of France and Navarre.

Funicular railway - one going down as the other comes up

Funicular railway - one going down as the other comes up

Flower beds and buildings along the Boulevard des Pyrenees

Flower beds and buildings along the Boulevard des Pyrenees


War Memorial in front of Eglise Saint Martin

War Memorial in front of Eglise Saint Martin

It would have been interesting to see the interior, particularly their collection of tapestries, but there were only guided tours and we had just missed one and the next was not convenient for us - we may just have to come back! In the morning, it was largely overcast so later in the day, after exploring more of the city and enjoying an excellent lunch, we returned to repeat some photos in better light.

Approaching the Chateau

Approaching the Chateau

Inside the courtyard

Inside the courtyard

A view over the formal gardens

A view over the formal gardens

Some pretty flower beds

Some pretty flower beds

How to mow the sloping lawns!

How to mow the sloping lawns!

Once we had walked round the side of the chateau, we found ourselves in parkland which extended for quite some way. At one point there was a frame through which visitors were encouraged to take photographs which approximately matched the view of a painting of the chateau. In a more formal treed area, we found Maison Baylaucq. There had been earlier buildings here but the one we saw dated back to the 19th century and had been converted from a residential home to an educational and artistic space. We were unable to enter the building but its exterior was quite unusual.

Pathway leading away into the wooded parkland

Pathway leading away into the wooded parkland

The 'framed' view mentioned above

The 'framed' view mentioned above

Maison Baylaucq

Maison Baylaucq

From here, we walked into the town and enjoyed the coexistence of old and new, with charming laneways and some majestic buildings, not to mention some very tempting shops and restaurants; in one of the latter, we had an excellent lunch of tagliatelle with salmon and mussels.

Eglise Saint Martin (from the other side of the view above)

Eglise Saint Martin (from the other side of the view above)

Fountains and carousel in one the squares

Fountains and carousel in one the squares

Eglise Saint-Jacques

Eglise Saint-Jacques

A quiet street scene

A quiet street scene

Judith charging off to 'our' restaurant

Judith charging off to 'our' restaurant

We took the funicular back down and stopped at an E. LeClerc store, on the way back to our hotel, as we needed an extra lead for charging our 'phones and I bought a watch-cum-pedometer to replace watches that have recently died on this trip and a pedometer which also suddenly ceased to operate not long before we set out - this wasn't meant to be a shopping trip but needs must!

On our way through to Auch, we detoured through the countryside, stopping to refuel at Vic-en-Bigorre then through a pretty little town, Maubourguet to Marciac (several of the places on the trip, I have picked up from France magazine). Marciac was delightful and Judith bought a very pretty backpack in the market from the same chap who sold me a hat (I had left hats at home!). As with many French villages, the market square is surrounded by lovely arched arcades.

View across the market square

View across the market square

Flowers for sale in the market

Flowers for sale in the market

We then drove off past Laveraet, near where we found a nicely painted silo-shaped telephone mast.

The decorated 'phone mast

The decorated 'phone mast

A good crop of sloes

A good crop of sloes

Very gentle countryside in this area

Very gentle countryside in this area

Our next stop, Montesquiou, was another France magazine recommendation but we must have missed something as it struck us as fairly ordinary, as French villages go. We ran out of time to visit Barran, although we could see the twisted church spire quite clearly, as we drove by on our way to our Ibis Hotel at Auch. The hotel, like all the Accor Group hotels we stayed in, was good but very few provide in room tea or coffee-making facilities which is a bit frustrating. However, the staff are all very well-trained and the hotels and rooms are very clean and well-maintained.

Posted by SteveJD 13:01 Archived in France Tagged pau chateau funicular ibis mercure auch navarre marciac accor-hotels france-magazine francis_iv

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