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768km (477 miles) SW of Paris; 196km (122 miles) SW of Toulouse

High above the banks of the Gave de Pau River, this year-round resort is a good place to pause in your trek to the Pyrénées. The British discovered Pau in the early 19th century, launching such practices as fox hunting, a custom that lingers. Even if you're just passing through, follow boulevard des Pyrénées, an esplanade erected on Napoleon's orders, for a famous panoramic view.

Pau is the most cosmopolitan city in the western Pyrénées, the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département (ministate). It was once the capital of the Béarn region, the land of the kings of Navarre, the most famous and beloved of whom was Henri IV. At one time the English were 15% of the population; its population of approximately 82,000 still observes some English traditions, such as afternoon tea.