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February 2016
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In the Pyrenees, sleep under the stars at the top of the Pic du Midi


A little closer to the stars, beyond civilization, on the roof of the Pyrenees … When addressing the Pic du Midi, atop the Col du Tourmalet, we undeniably get closer to the cosmos, infinity and its existential questions … For a long time, the astronomical observatory of the Pic du Midi has been reserved for a handful of scientists who came to probe the depths of the Universe. Since the early 2000s, the general public has access to this science fiction structure that aligns stargazing domes. With five kilometers of corridors and tunnels, its large panoramic terrace of 750 m2 at nearly 3000 meters (2877 precisely!) And the “Interdepartmental building”, confidential-classified and living in complete autarky in its large antenna of 101 meters high, the Pic du midi buildings allow free rein to all fantasies … In recent years, it is also possible to spend the night (package “Starry Night” from 399 euros for two)! We can benefit from a site that was the first in France in 2013 to be awarded the “International Dark Sky Reserve”! The Pic is accessible from the ski resort of La Mongie via a cable car. The ideal is to arrive in the afternoon to be on site at the time of sunset. See the solar star disappear behind the mountains is magical. On site, you stay in small but cozy and warm rooms once intended to house the scientists who now no longer move on the observatory, all the data being transmitted via internet to labs around the world .. . The room space is limited but from the bed, raised, you can observe a clear night sky. Top! The furniture is signed by Philippe Starck. But anyway, you spend little time in your room! After a guided tour of the small museum which traces the whole Pic du Midi conquest and explains the research on the space observation, you will spend a dinner with regional colors (expect foie gras and black pork from Bigorne!). Then, still in the company of a specialized guide in astronomy, it’s time for the evening stargazing on the spacious outdoor terrace. The night is magical from this unique observatory in France that allows you to plunge into a sky of rare clarity before falling into the arms of Morpheus at an unusual altitude. The next morning we end the stay with the visit of scientific equipment in service. The most athletic ones can descend, in the winter, by freeride skiing, and by mountain biking in the summer. But each of them is leaving with stars in their head …


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