France, Hautes-Pyrenees, Pic du Midi and Domaine du Tourmalet area in winter

Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

Pic du Midi

Top choice in The Pyrenees

If the Pyrenees has a mustn’t-miss view, it’s the one from the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2877m). Once accessible only to mountaineers, since 1878 the Pic du Midi has been home to an important observatory, and on a clear day the sky-top mountain views are out of this world. A cable car climbs to the summit from the nearby ski resort of La Mongie (1800m). Early morning and late evenings generally get the clearest skies and smallest crowds.

At the top, there are several viewing terraces, all offering a different perspective on the serrated mountain landscape. There’s also a museum that gives an overview of the observatory and its development over the years. When hunger strikes, you can grab a snack at the sandwich shop or linger over a meal at the restaurant (menus €30 to €36).

If you’re visiting in the low season, check the website for closures due to bad weather or periodic closures. In summer, if you’re travelling from the western valleys via the Col du Tourmalet, double-check the road is open before you set out – it’s usually closed between November and May.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Pyrenees attractions

1. Le Donjon des Aigles

10.46 MILES

Some 15km south of Lourdes, in the spectacular surroundings of the 11th-century Château de Beaucens, you can see one of the world’s largest collections of…

2. Pic du Jer

13.28 MILES

Panoramic views of Lourdes and the central Pyrenees are on offer from this rocky outcrop just outside town. There are two routes to the top: a punishing…

3. Parc Animalier des Pyrénées

13.31 MILES

Around 12km south of Lourdes, off the D821 near Argelès-Gazost, this fantastic animal park is home to many species that were once commonly sighted across…

4. Le Cachot

14.58 MILES

In 1857 Bernadette Soubirous’ family fell on hard times and were forced to move to this dingy former prison, where they lived communally in a room…

5. Château Fort

14.69 MILES

Lourdes’ imposing castle stands on a sheer hill just behind the town. There’s been a stronghold here since Roman times, but the present building combines…

6. Maison Paternelle de Ste-Bernadette

14.72 MILES

After Bernadette Soubirous experienced her visions, Lourdes’ abbot bought this house for her family. It’s still run by her descendants, and has a…

7. Moulin de Boly

14.75 MILES

Bernadette was born in this millhouse on 7 January 1844, one year after the marriage of her parents Louise Castérot and François Soubirous. She lived here…

8. Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes

14.87 MILES

The spiritual centre of Lourdes is the subterranean grotto where Bernadette Soubirous is believed to have experienced her visions in 1858. From the Porte…