Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

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Coordinates: 43°18′06″N 0°22′07″W / 43.3016666666667°N 0.368611111111°W / 43.3016666666667; -0.368611111111

Pau

Pau is a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département in France. It was also the capital of the Béarn region. It forms the communauté d'agglomération of Pau-Pyrénées with 13 neighbouring communes to carry out local tasks together. The Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, founded in 1972, means there is a high student population. The Boulevard des Pyrénées is 1.8 km from the Château de Pau to the Parc du Beaumont, with views of the mountains. Alphonse de Lamartine said: "Pau has the world's most beautiful view of the earth just as Naples has the most beautiful view of the sea."

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Origin of name

The origin of the name is uncertain. One tradition suggests it is a corruption of pal, from the palings around the original château. Another is that the name refers to a ford across the river administered by the church, the pious. More recent research suggests the pre-Indo-European word for a rockface was pal or bal and that the name refers to Pau's position at the foot of the mountains. The name of the town appeared in the 12th century. The inhabitants of the city are known as palois. Their motto is Urbis palladium et gentis.

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