The Pic du Midi - a starry reserve in the sky

Famous for the purity of the air and the atmospheric stability, the Pic du Midi was the ideal site for the creation of an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR). The aim is to preserve the quality of the sky around the Pic by protecting the night-time environment from light pollution. It’s a first in Europe. Hubert Reeves is the project’s mentor.

In 1870 pioneers decided to create a weather station, then an astronomical observatory at an altitude of 2,877 metres.


The Baillaud dome, built in the gardens of the Toulouse observatory, was assembled on the summit in 1907.
It housed a 500mm telescope, and in 1930 Bernard Lyot installed his new invention, the coronagraph.
This device was designed to create artificial solar eclipses, and can only function with exceptional atmospheric transparency such as that found at the Pic.
The Pic site has been open to the general public since 2000, following a regional authorities initiative. The premises were renovated, a museum and restaurant were created, and a new cable-car installed.
The summit of the Pic du Midi has over 100,000 visitors every year - for the day, lunch, a picnic, or overnight. And of course to observe the stars and admire the Pyrenees’ most beautiful panorama.
The more athletic use the cable-car to experience the most amazing of thrills - the descent of the Pic on skis, snowboard, or mountain bike in the Summer.