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The town originated from the construction of its castle, likely from the 11th century by the Viscounts of Béarn, to protect the ford which was a strategic point for access to the Bearn valleys and then to Spain.The city thus took its name from the stockade (pau in Bearnese) which set the boundaries of the primitive castle.The name of Horizons Palois aims to protect this vision, in particular with the famous Boulevard des Pyrénées which extends for 1.8 kilometres (1.1 miles) from the Château de Pau to the Parc Beaumont.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." Archaeology has asserted that the site has been occupied at least since the Gallo-Roman era.Pau also plays the role of cultural capital with many events, including sports.
It was during the 18th century when another famous person was born in Pau, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte who became Marshal of the Empire and King of Sweden (today, still the ruling dynasty) and Norway from 1818 until his death in 1844.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.The name of its people is Palois and the motto of Pau is in Latin: Urbis palladium et gentis ("protective of the city and its people").Pau is 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 km (31 miles) from the Pyrenees. The frontier is crossed by the col du Somport (1,631 metres (5,351 feet)) and the col du Pourtalet (1,794 m (5,886 ft)).