The Boulevard des Pyrénées

From where you are standing now, you can see the structure of the Boulevard des Pyrénées. This long promenade actually sits on a viaduct that was built in 1900 against the rock face. In this video, discover what lies beneath this iconic balcony over the city!


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The Boulevard des Pyrénées, which connects Pau Castle and the Palais Beaumont, was designed to act as the city’s balcony, where anyone could come and admire the breathtaking panoramic views offered by the mountain range, regardless of the season. It was the culmination of the plans to beautify the city, which throughout the 19th century had asserted itself as a luxury tourist destination. Jean-Charles Alphand, the engineer who came up with the first design in 1891, had made it his ambition to offer Pau the equivalent of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

Topography-related constraints at the time had required true technological prowess. Between the Place Royale and the Palais Beaumont, the edge of the rocky plateau is narrower. As such, a viaduct consisting of 49 pillars was built to gain more space and support this part of the boulevard. It extends all the way to the rock between the Place Royale and the castle. The boulevard was completed in 1900.

To make it easier to reach this new heart of the city from the train station located at the foot of the spur, a cable car was installed in 1908. The cable car makes it possible to climb the ascent without any effort. The original ticket window and signage have been kept.

The cable car goes all the way up to the roof terrace of the Pavillon des Arts. This former bathhouse, built on the side of the mountain in 1831 and turned into a casino in 1884, was included in the plans for the Boulevard des Pyrénées. As a result of adding a structure built with reinforced concrete, the roof of this building supports the entire viewing platform that prolongs the Place Royale.

To complete this spectacular entrance to the city, a palm grove was planted on the slopes of the spur.

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