The presence of the Midi de Bigorre astronomical observatory makes this the most accessible peak in the Pyrenees. Both in its French aspect and in Spain. And it is that up there, at more than 2,700 meters of altitude, a cable car goes up. And once there, we are much closer to the stars. If you want to check it out, come with us.
History of the Midi de Bigorre observatory
The astronomer François de Plantade ascended to the top of the Midi de Bigorre in the French Pyrenees in 1714. He already knew that he was going to contemplate a lavish starry sky, but what he saw fascinated him. And since then the peak became famous as an ideal place to see constellations, planets and astronomical phenomena.
That fame grew, so in 1878 it was decided to build an astronomical observatory there, which at an altitude of 2,778 meters was to be one of the highest in Europe. Something admirable, since at that time everything was climbed on foot and on horseback because the current cable car, of course, did not yet exist.
The ascent to the Midi de Bigorre today
In contrast, nowadays it only takes about 10 minutes to get on the cable car, which departs from the La Mongie winter resort, one of the most visited by French skiers in the Pyrenees.
It is an ascent that saves a 1,000 meter drop and has a truly spectacular section. It is the one that goes from the Pic Taulet, at 2,342 meters, to the Midi de Bigorre. A section in which there is only cable laid between the two peaks, without any support, vibrant but safe. Of course, perhaps those who suffer from vertigo should refrain from climbing.
By the way, this cable car works every day of the year, except if it is very windy. The reason is that thanks to it the people who live continuously in the Midi de Bigorre observatory are supplied, which has also become a fantastic tourist destination for a day in the mountains.
The surprises from the top
It is surprising what awaits us at that observatory. Of course, there are all the first-rate scientific instruments and facilities for all the personnel who work there. But in addition, there is a cafeteria where you can have a drink, a museum to learn much more about the cosmos and an exhibition about this place.
In that exhibition, among other things, it is discovered that the Midi de Bigorre has collaborated with NASA programs, for example in relation to the trips made to the Moon with the Apollo missions.
The Midi de Bigorre observatory promotes different activities that combine tourism and science. For example, it is possible to reserve a place to sleep up there, and thus see some wonderful starry nights.
Or also in the esplanade of the observatory, surrounded by the domes of the telescopes, activities are carried out such as looking at the sun during the day, to see the constant solar flares emitted by our closest star.
The other views of the Midi de Bigorre
And in addition to the vision of the stars, the ascent to the summit of Midi de Bigorre, also offers an exceptional panoramic view of the mountain range. From there you can see the highest peaks located in Spain, such as Aneto.
In addition to this, there are also other mountains in two national parks, that of the Pyrenees in Gallic territory, and that of Ordesa in Hispanic lands. A panorama, without a doubt, spectacular.
But there is still a very interesting vision. And it is that of the nearby port of Tourmalet, which ends at the foot of the Midi de Bigorre and which, like the observatory, is a good destination for an excursion. In this case, for amateur cyclists who want to emulate the professionals of the Tour de France.