Visiting Pic du Midi in the Pyrenees

Visiting Pic du Midi is one of those bucket list places to visit for anyone who is planning a vacation to France.

Is the Pic du Midi open to the public?

Yes, the Pic du Midi is open to the public between May and November and you can visit during the day and you can even stay overnight. It really is an amazing experience taking the cable car up to the summit of the mountain. Breathtaking doesn’t do it justice.

In years gone by it was possible to drive a dusty road from the Col du Tourmalet to a large parking area below the summit, from where a steep path led upwards into this weird and fascinating landscape.

Not an easy walk…

Now that is no longer possible, and visitors must take a cable car from the nearby village of La Mongie, although you may still be able to walk up from the Col du Tourmalet; though I wouldn’t advise it.

The cable car runs every 15 minutes and the cabin has a capacity of 45 people. Needless to say the view from the cable car is spectacular and the 15 minute journey is unbelivably exciting.

Visting the Pic du Midi

Visiting the Pic du Midi should be the highlight of anyone’s winter sports holiday in the tangle of rugged mountains between France and Spain.

Only 19 guests can be accommodated overnight, with stargazing, conducted tours of the telescopes, and gourmet dining on the menu.

Read our Visitors Guide to Midi-Pyrenees

The observatory is also home to the highest museum in Europe, one that will guide you through the history of Pic du Midi and over a century of scientific research and technological progress.

High winds – recorded at up to 180mph – can isolate the facility for days, but on clear nights from this stellar eyrie you can see the glow of lights from Biarritz to Barcelona.

If you’re driving to the Pic du Midi there is free parking at La Mongie. Though do care in winter and check the roads as snow can of course cause issues for travellers. For non-drivers there is a daily shuttle service to the mountain from Lourdes.

What is the Pic du Midi

This fortified complex, crammed with metal domes, sprawls across the top of a precipitous peak, often high above the clouds. At an altitude of 2,877 meters (9,349 feet), the sweeping view of the surrounding mountains is rivalled only by the site’s magnificently dark night sky.

Pic du Midi observatory

From below it looks like an unappetising fortress on a frozen planet. Perched on a mountain peak, bristling with mysterious domes and towers, it gazes down imperiously on a world of ice and snow.

Its occasional residents spend more time looking up than down, however, because the complex on the Pic du Midi is an astronomical observatory, from which NASA scientists mapped the surface of the moon for the Apollo landings.

Where is the Pic du Midi?

The Pic du Midi is in the Pyrenees in the Parc National des Pyrenees.

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