Pic du Midi (fr. Observatoire du Pic du Midi, Hautes-Pyrénées department, Occitania, Pyrenees, France) was classified in 2003 as a national natural site due to its landscape’s beauty.

Pic du Midi received the international star reserve status, the first in France on December 19th, 2013. Researchers and astronomers have been observing, deciphering, and photographing the sky and planets to the most distant galaxies in this magical place for more than 140 years.

See here interview with co-director Pique du Midi, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, specialist in stellar landscapes, amateur astronomer Nicolas Bourgeois.

The observatory consists of:

The 0.55-meter telescope (Robley Dome);
The 0.60-meter telescope (T60 Dome, welcoming amateur astronomers via the Association T60);
The 1.06-meter telescope (Gentilli Dome) dedicated to observations of the solar system;
The 2-meter telescope or Bernard Lyot Telescope (used with a new generation stellar spectropolarimeter);
The coronagraph HACO-CLIMSO (studies of the solar corona);
The bezel Jean Rösch (studies of the solar surface)
The Charvin dome, which sheltered a photoelectric coronometer (which studied the Sun);
The Baillaud dome, reassigned to the museum in 2000 and which houses a 1:1 scale model coronagraph.

The observatory is located very close to the Greenwich meridian.

Thus, astronomy – the science of celestial bodies – has become an excellent area for the Iberian region. The heaven’s secrets and daily wonders once reserved for a few privileged scholars are now available to all. You just need to climb the cable car from Mongie town, the Grand Tourmalet ski resort center, – and you are at the top of 2877 meters above sea level after 15 minutes.

Tourists are immersed from the moment they arrive in the atmosphere of scientists and astronomers who are ready to share their knowledge and make their favorite science as accessible as possible to a wide audience.

You can embrace and look from Catalonia to the Basque Country from the Pique du Midi top. The horizon opens for more than 300 km from east to west! The 750 m² large terrace offers views of the Central Massif foothills.

Information boards indicate the highest peaks around that you can admire from above.

Open throughout the year, Pic du Midi reveals its secrets and magic both day and evening, and even at night. The Southern Pyrenees observatory is open and ready to share its research work with everyone interested in astronomy.

Pic du Midi is in the top 10 best places in the world to observe the stars. British journalist Jamie Carter from Telegraph put Pic du Midi in sixth place in the top 10 ranking of the best observatories in the world … Among the first three are the Fuerteventura Observatory in the Canary Islands, the Atacama Desert Observatory in Chile, and the Cuzco Planetarium in Peru …

8 meters diameter planetarium is located in one of the scientific complex domes. The hall has 45 seats with reclining backs. Each session lasts about an hour and includes two films: “The Epic of the Peak” (17 minutes) allows you to find out the Pic du Midi history and secrets and its pioneering heroes.

You will also be offered films:

Sky Navigator: (35 minutes) – a film about the writer Serge Brunier dream come true. The incredible adventure of this tireless traveler who, to photograph the entire galaxy, visited Pic du Midi also…

Polaris (29 minutes) tells the story of James, the traveling penguin, and Vladimir, the funny polar bear that met on the Arctic ice floe. They look at the stars, wondering why the night lasts so long at the Earth both poles…

Thomas Pesquet, Mission Proxima (29 minutes) – a film about the physical and mental preparation of a young astronaut from Houston to Baikonur and his space mission aboard the ISS!

We are the stars (26 minutes) – an exciting film for all ages. This is a real journey through the universe to better understand the world around us.

Visitors can learn the biggest secrets of the dome in the summer of 2019. The latest generation telescope allows you to watch the sun online. The hall is designed for 27 people. Each viewer will be present at the visual and sound show with 3D animation.

Visitors will be able to hear and see the secrets of constellations and rediscover their place in the universe.

You will have the opportunity to study the astronomical observations basics and answer the questions of why, how, and where to observe the sky and stars. It will demonstrate how the dome and all the equipment work. A real-time viewing session allows you to see the sun as you’ve never seen it before.

Various observation instruments will be demonstrated in case of bad weather: T60, coronographs, 1-meter telescope (T1m), and Bernard Lyot telescope.

Pontoon in the sky: a journey through the starry landscape. A 12-meter-long metal bridge suspended above the void has formed a path into the clouds for a unique and breathtaking journey since February 2018. Each visitor has the opportunity to get the full impression of flying as if clinging to the horizon.

The observatory houses the Télédiffusion de France (TDF) premises with an antenna height of 101 m, a regional radio and television transmitter, whose radius of operation exceeds 400 km, which corresponds to 1/10 of the entire French territory.

The main building houses the army and the air force strategic telecommunication base, the civil aviatio’s main department (DGAC), there are also wireless telephone service providers, including France Telecom, as well as the Météo France service.

The scientific platform covers an area of 6000 m² today and its activities are focused on topics such as the exoplanets study, the solar activity study, and climate change issues.

There are also buildings designated for scientists, with equipment, including a 2-meter telescope (TBL), a Robley dome, which houses a 55-cm telescope, a coronagraph (designed to study the solar system), the tower dome (intended for the solar surface observations), the Gentile dome and its 1-meter telescope equipped by NASA, and finally the Bernard Lyot telescope.

Space experiments: science for all. This place can be called a museum of science, where they store meteorites’ fragments. One can “touch the Moon” here…

Interactive screens and optical illusions immerse you in adventures and surprises world. Stars, planets, astronomers scientific explanations, research conducted on Pic du Midi – all this is freely available to visitors.

Five thematic “islands” represent science in an accessible language: atmosphere (“a journey to the clouds center”), light (“a brief history of the light origin”), the sun’s (“solar activity”), the moon and the solar system bodies (“from the moon to the earth” ), cosmic rays (“mysterious particles”)…

This place preserves the real treasures of an observatory with 140 years of history.

Unique and exceptional exhibits are, in particular, the Bernard Lyot second coronagraph, the Lunar Atlas, and the Ramond de Carbonnières barometers.

HistoPad, tactile tablet, is at your service. Discover the Pic du Midi epic picture, return 100 years to relive a great scientific adventure. HistoPad will take you on an exciting journey into the past, in the wake of the first scientists…

A virtual guide will help you explore life at the observatory using photographs and newspaper articles, as well as take part in treasure hunts…

Visitors will be able to travel in 360 ° measurement with the help of HistoPad, regardless of the weather, both in summer and in winter, day or night.

It will also talk about the Pyrenees flora and fauna and even help you survive extreme skiing! HistoPad is available in three languages: French, English, and Spanish. Waiting – German and Japanese…

A new restaurant with a modern design has opened on Pique du Midi as part of major transformations. It’s capacity is 80 people at a time. Full menu – from starters to desserts. Traditional homemade dishes cooked with local produce.

Huge windows allow you to fully enjoy the Pyrenees panorama. There is a small terrace also. There is the restaurant matching name – Le 2877!

A small comfortable hotel has been opened on Pic du Midi since 2014. The hotel occupancy is 92%, it is advisable to book rooms one month in advance in the high season.

The Hôtellerie des Laquets has about fifteen rooms (including one for the disabled). Each room has its own bathroom.

A store has been opened in Mongie since February 2018. You can buy souvenirs, original high-quality products, scientific books, and educational games here. Postcards, posters, textiles, souvenirs … all in the Pic du Midi colors.

Pic du Midi is a place for extreme sports: downhill skiing and snowboarding in winter and mountain bike in summer.

Like Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix and La Grave in the Alps, Pic du Midi opened a unique ski area in the Pyrenees in December 2013. Thus, the 1st and 2nd sections of the La Mongie-Le Taoulet and Le Taoulet-Pic du Midi cable cars are open to experienced skiers.

Some numbers:

143,155 visitors in 2018 (120,321 visitors in 2017, + 19%)
Profit before tax 2018: more than 6 million euros (+ 21% / 2017)
6,180 clients in 2018 at night (5,546 in 2017). Room occupancy is 93.62% per year and 98.99% in July and August.


Children from 3 to 5 years: free of charge
Children up to 12 years: 27 €
Adults: 45 €
Family package: (2 adults + 2 children up to 18 years): 108 €
Pic du Midi Unlimited ski pass (freeride): 45 €
Planetarium: 6 €
Star night: 379 € single room and 439 € double room.
From July 1st to September 15th:
439 € / single room and 469 € / double room.

Coordinates: 42°56′11″N 0°08′34″E

How to get to?

From Paris: 8 hr 35 min (884 km) via A10

From Toulouse: 2 hr 15 min (177 km) via A64

From Andorra: 4 hr 11 min (283 km) via A64

From Madrid: 7 hr 25 min (708 km) via A-1

From Monaco: 7 hr 38 min (752 km) via A8

From Moscow: 38 hr (3,625 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 20 hr 41 min (2,056 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 30 hr (3,005 km) via E70

From Bern: 10 hr 4 min (1,011 km) via A9

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

Read more: Interesting places in the Pyrenees and around with Jane Cautch ...