For much of the 19th century any new opera performed at the Paris Opéra was required to include a ballet sequence, usually during the second Act, something that famously caused Wagner considerable difficulty when Tannhäuser was staged there in 1861. For a fastidious composer like Saint-Saëns the production of engaging and wonderfully melodic divertissements was no problem.
From the long forgotten grand opera ‘Etienne Marcel’ with its patriotic and revolutionary themes of six dances from the third act including the "Pavane". Tchaikovsky had a low opinion of this opera and in a letter to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, wrote, “it is a completely insignificant, even undistinguished work. It's banal, dry, boring, shameless, and without any character.” Whilst that damming critique may be true of the opera as a whole it could hardly be levelled at these lively dances that even include a ‘Valse’ worthy of Tchaikovsky himself.
The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance). The Pavane is taken from act III of the Etienne Marcel and although originally written as an opera with orchestra, this arrangement for flute and piano was made by the famous French flutist Paul Taffanel and it is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).