Moving to Pau soon

Hi everyone. I stumbled across this site when I did a google search for Pau and found the invitation for a spa day. I won’t be there in time, but this struck me as a good group of people to get to know!

My family is moving to Pau for a year, starting this August. My husband will be doing research at the University, my 15 year-old daughter bravely plans to go to school in French and her 18 year old brother will do the intensive French language training at the U. I am a writer and web consultant, so my work can travel with me.

If you want to learn more about my interests, I’ve got two websites on the go at the moment: and I’m also planning to launch a third one with my reactions to France as soon as I’ve got our visas. (Don’t want to risk antagonizing anyone before that!)

We lived in a suburb of Paris for a year when the kids were 2 & 5. Sadly, they lost their French during the years back in Canada (we don’t live in Quebec!). My husband and I are both functionally bilingual.

Anyone have suggestions for housing in Pau? Advice for things we should know as we get settled in? Ideas for how my 18 year old could get part-time work?

Thanks! I look forward to meeting some of you and corresponding with others!

Tema (rhymes with Emma)

Hi Tema, we live about an hour south of Pau. We arrived in 2009 with a 16 year old boy who didn’t speak any french and survived a year in French college, doing a vocational rather than purely academic course. He now speaks french pretty fluently. He is always on the lookout for other lads who are into BMXing. Happy to meet up when you get here - just get in touch.

Thanks Natalie.

Now our next big challenge is trying to get the visas sorted out!

Agree with Stephen regarding the need for a car.

We moved near to Pau in July las year and the area is lovely, particularly being as your kids are a little older.

We found seloger the best website for looking for houses.

Good luck with the house hunt!

Thanks Stephen. We do plan on renting a car for the year, as we’ll want it for excursions anyway. We are hoping to do most of our shopping at the market(s). Is that unrealistic? (I realize some things require grocery stores)

Thanks Alan. That is reassuring.

Tema, I don’t think the centre is too noisy/dangerous… it is a calm town from that point of view yet quite a lot going on. Maybe get a bit of high spirited/noisy car driving at the weekends but not much more than that in my experience.

I have a couple of friends and colleagues who do live in the city centre and for the very reason you mention, it is easy to not need to use a car on a daily basis (perhaps for weekends and major shopping trips). And of course UPPA (the university) is not too far away for your husband and son.

There are good areas of greenness at Beaumont Palace / park and between the boulevard des Pyrenees and the station. There are two weekends a year that the centre is closed off due to the Pau classic grand prix and the touring car championship (I may have got these details wrong, but there are two car races in June/July I think where the streets are used as the race track a la Monte Carlo!). But if you live in the city centre I presume they let you in without paying!

Glad to be of help!


Cool! Does your daughter go to a Lycee? Or is she at an international school?

Thanks Alan. I’ve heard nothing but good about Pau from anyone who’s ever lived there. Yes, your rent prices sound about right. We’d originally been looking for a furnished place, since we are only there for the year, but it looks like we’d be better off just buying cheap furnishings and selling them at the end.

I’ve been wavering about whether to live near the centre or in a suburb. I really don’t want to need to use a car for daily errands or to get the kids to school. But I wonder if it will be too noisy/crowded/dangerous if we live right in the centre. Your thoughts?


Hi Tema, you will like Pau (I think). We lived there for four years from Jan 2006 to Jan 2010 and it’s a great place. Not too big, not too small, an hour from the beach and an hour from skiing in the winter. Quite a lot of English speakers around too (and it has the oldest golf course on the continent). We lived in Lons, which is a suburb of Pau to the West, only about 5km from the city centre, but it’s quiet and right on the edge of the countryside if you are into cycling or taking dogs (or yourselves) for walks. There are lots of villages/towns around Pau like Jurancon, Gan, Poey de Lescar, Morlaas, or areas within Pau like Trespoey are also nice.

Rent is relatively cheap - for a decent 120-140 m2 house (OK probably small compared to Canada!) it would be around €1100-1400 per month (unless things have shot up since a couple of years ago).

There is an international school if your daughter decides against French school (she’s courageous wanting to go to French school for just one year!).

In summer it does get quite hot and humid since it is quite wet in Pau (compared to the Mediterranean coast of France) - I believe it is the wettest part of France. So you might want to consider air conditioning, although most rented houses probably won’t have AC.

Not sure I’ve helped much, but if you have any more specific questions fire away!

Good luck with your move.


Hi Tema
We are about 45 mins away (neighbours in France!) and have a 15 year old daughter - plus the rest! Can’t help with Pau but sure others will and look forward to meeting up!