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Pau, France
August 2001

This was my third trip to Pau (Ina’s first) but the first chance I have had to stay over and see more of the area other than the manufacturing plant in Bellocq. The first 2 days were work, the following 5 were holidays.

On the Saturday we drove south from Pau to visit the Pyrenees Mountains. No particular plan or destination, just a road to follow that would take us there. The major town we had to pass through was Oloron Saint Marie and we had a terrible time finding the proper road to get us there. The direction signs were generally to major places which included Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Bayonne which were all directions I knew I didn’t want to go and Saragosse which I didn’t know where it was but knew it wasn’t on the map for the direction we did want to go. We finally found the right road but took a very circuitous route to get to it. Turns out that the road to Saragosse was the one we wanted – its way down in Spain and not on the France road map that we had. Once we figured that one out it made things a whole bunch easier.

pyreneesThe approach to the mountains once you get south of Oloron is a straight road through flat farming country and it looks like the mountains start abruptly, rising straight out of the plain. We drove up to Col du Somport which is the border post between France and Spain. All that is there is two immigration/customs buildings (that are closed) a restaurant/souvenir shop and a good view. We continued on into Spain and to the first major town which is called Jaca which is about twenty miles from the border and just out of the mountains.  We stopped for lunch at small sidewalk café. When we got the bill I realized that I had no Spanish money and they didn’t take credit cards – oops! No one there spoke much English but we were able to figure out that there was a bank machine somewhere in the general direction of downtown. I found it and it worked. There is not much in Jaca.fort jaca It has a large fort (which was closed) and lots of outdoor restaurants and cafes, most of which were full.

On the drive back to France we stopped at Candanchu which is a small tourist town in the mountains just a few miles from the border. It has a very large and abandoned railway station and lots of tourist shops. Liquor seems to be the most popular thing on sale apparently because it is a lot cheaper in Spain than in France. 

More Southern France photos