Pic du Midi:
an experience at the top of the Pyrenees
Trip to the top of the Pyrenees
Having arrive in the Hautes-Pyrénées Département, I make my way to the resort of Le Grand Tourmalet and the La Mongie slopes. Once I've parked (it's free), I go to the cablecar terminus. I get into the car, feeling really happy and almost weightless already. After a stop at "Le Taoulet" and changing cars, The Le Pic Observatory looms majestically in front of me. For a long time, access was restricted to scientists, but today it is open to everybody. The car moves smoothly – some passages are in empty space, suspended more than 300 metres above the ground. The trip is sensational!
A breathtaking panorama over 300km of mountains!
The most beautiful panorama in the Pyrenees
After a few minutes journey, the door opens at nearly 3,000 metres above sea level. I get out impatiently, and discover one of the best views anywhere over the Pyrenees. 300km of mountains stand before me – the panorama is extraordinary! To the north I can look at the plain. The whole of Occitania lies before me. On a clear day, you can even see the first foothills of the Massif Central...
Walking around the huge, panoramic terraces, I can gaze at the sun through observation glasses or relax on loungers, enjoying the pure air. The staff are pleased to give me lots of information about the sun and the Pyrenean mountain range, as well as the Pic du Midi and its construction more than a hundred years ago – a real epic tale!
Whatever the season, don't forget warm clothing, sunglasses and sun cream.
A starry cinema
I continue my extraordinary adventure, and go on to the important Baillaud dome, built in 1908. It was here that astronomical observation really began at the Pic du Midi. Today it has been converted into a Planetarium. I settle into one of the 45 comfortable reclinable seats. And sit there open-mouthed during a 35-minute, completely incredible, starry cinema film, projected onto a semi-spherical screen 8 metres in diameter.
So, restaurant or bistro?
Time passes really quickly, and the altitude has given me an appetite, so I decide to go and visit the restaurant. Comfortably settled facing the Pyrenees, I look at the menu. All the dishes are prepared here, with a selection of local produce such as "Porc Noir de Bigorre" pork, haricot beans from Tarbes, or Lamb Shanks with Baronnies liqueurs. It is hard to choose, and of course I need to leave a bit of room for the Profiteroles Paris-Brest gateau revisited by M. Philippe Urraca, elected as a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France)!
If you want to eat faster, there is also a bistro offering dish of the day, salads and cold meats, as well as gateaus if you are feeling more greedy!
The pontoon in the sky
The view of the night sky is unusually clear from the Pic du Midi, due to the purity of the air and the stability of the atmosphere at an altitude of 2,877 metres. This quality has meant that the Pic du Midi is included in the very exclusive club of the "International Dark Sky Reserves".
Opening times 2018 - June to September: open every day. October: every day except 2nd and 3rd October. November: open to 4th, then closed for the rest of the year.
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
Voici les bonnes adresses d'Anthony (Tourisme Hautes-Pyrénées) pour profiter pleinement de votre expérience au Pic du Midi (et autour !).
CHAMBRES D'HÔTES "LES GENTIANES" - VIELLA
HOTEL LE CHALET
AUBERGE LES CASCADES
L'ASSIETTE DE JULIETTE
VERTIGE DE L'ADOUR VIA FERRATA
Découvrez notre sélection de séjours au Pic du Midi et autour. Cliquez, réservez : tout est prévu, votre hébergement, votre programme de découverte.
- By car: access to La Mongie possible all year by the D918 from Bagnères de Bigorre.
- From June to November, you can also get to the Pic du Midi from Barèges via the Col du Tourmalet.
- From Toulouse, allow 2hrs. Take the A64 as far as Tournay (exit14), go towards Bagnères de Bigorre, then take the D935 to Sainte Marie de Campan, and finally the D918 to La Mongie.
- From Bordeaux, when you get to Tarbes-Ouest, take exit 12, then follow the D935 from Tarbes to get to Bagnères de Bigorre.
- Access by train by air: see the Pic du Midi website.