A Pyreneen mountain summit in the Hautes Pyrenees. A savage, snow covered solitary place, where wolves howl eerily in the blizzards. Or so Louis XIV believed.
A Pyreneen mountain summit in the Hautes Pyrenees. A savage, snow covered solitary place, where wolves howl eerily in the blizzards. Or so Louis XIV believed. In fact the people living then were terrified of the Pyrenees and never went anywhere near them. Louis went so far as to claim that he had actually abolished them. Fortunately for us he failed.
Nowadays we can marvel at these majestic forces of nature which make up this most beautiful mountain range which separates southern France from northern Spain. We can dream about what it would be like to stand on the summit and look out from our very own top of the world. Here in the department of the Hautes Pyrenees at the foot of the famous Col de Tourmalet, that dream is a reality because the Pic du Midi de Bigorre is no ordinary mountain peak. It is home to an impressive scientific observatory studying astronomy and the evolution of the earth. Scientists study the stars including the sun, climatology, meteorology, even botany and cosmology and much more. And it is open to the public.
Even the journey to reach the Pic is exciting and is made by two cable cars starting from the ski resort of La Mongie. The bleak waiting area of the cable car station is soon forgotten as the car starts to rise, gently and smoothly, until it reaches a point where the angle of ascent changes. There is always a collective gasp from the occupants as the car swings backwards and forwards for a few seconds before settling down to continue its smooth ride. Watch La Mongie slip away, replaced by steep mountain slopes, fathomless ravines and sheer drops of emptiness beneath. The car arrives at a station about halfway up where everyone changes to another car for the final ascent to the summit.
The views are breathtaking. On a clear day mountain peaks surround you as far as the eye can see.
Nancy Lynne obathan has written an in depth profile of Pic du Midi de Bigorre for us which you can see here.