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.Limited scheduled flights serve Amsterdam, London, Southampton, Dublin, Lyon and Paris.A TGV rail line runs to Paris and from Bayonne to Toulouse. The A65 autoroute was opened in December 2010, linking Pau with Bordeaux and the Dordogne.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 Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, founded in 1972, accounts for a large student population.
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.
Access to the crossings partly accounts for Pau's strategic importance.
Pau is located 200 km (124 mi) west of Toulouse, 30 km (19 mi) from Tarbes and Lourdes, 25 km (16 mi) from Oloron.