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Day 18: Southwest France & Pic du Midi - 31 May


Another glorious day and the perfect reason to scale the heights of the Pyrenees at 2877 meters. 

After driving for 1 and a half hours from the region of Haute Garonne towards the Pyrenees, we arrived at a ski town of La Mongie where we would take the cable car to the top of one of the mountains along the Pyrenees mountain chain called “Pic du Midi.” With an exceptional panorama of 300 kilometers from all sides, this is said to be one of the most beautiful views in the world.

“ What? 64,00 Euros for two people?”, Peter exclaimed incredulously at the lady behind the ticket window. 

“Yes, Monsieur.”, came the response. And then she added,” But you need to hurry because the last cable car leaves in ten minutes, and then it will be closed for lunch until 2 o’clock.”

There’s that 2-hour lunch break again - hasn’t anyone told the French that there’s a Eurozone crisis out there?

“ C’mon, Peter.”, I said. We’ve just driven all this way and it’s meant to be spectacular.”

So up we went with a bunch of schoolchildren, who oohed and aahed every time the cable car dipped and swayed, which didn’t help my vertigo. After 10 or 15 minutes - who’s counting at nearly 3000 meters - we came to a halt at the top. The air was a good 20 degrees cooler up here, although thankfully, no wind.

And yes, the view was breathtaking! With London and Paris on one side, and Spain on the other, one truly felt on top of the world.

While the schoolkids munched on their packed lunches on the deck chairs at the apex, we made a beeline for the restaurant - and there is only one at the top of Pic du Midi - that has a wonderful reputation with visitors and locals alike. While the name eludes me, I remember the set menu offerings of regional delicacies: Entree + main, or main + dessert for 18,00 Euros, and entree, main + dessert for 24,00 Euros. Since we were going to be up here until the cable car resumed its runs at 2 pm, we went for the 3 course option plus a glass of wine each. The meal was exceptional quality and terrific value.

There is a history and astronomy museum at Pic du Midi which you are entitled to enter for the price of your ticket. However, after walking in and seeing the maelstrom of schoolchildren that were flooding the museum and elbowing each other to get in front of the exhibits, we decided to forego the museum altogether and head back down. We were tired from the drive, sleepy after the lunch, and our tolerance levels had worn thin.

After getting back on to the cable car and taking it down to the bottom, we jumped back into our car and drove back towards the auberge. Sensing that Peter was getting drowsy behind the wheel, we made the sensible decision to pull over into a picnic area nearby and lie down on the grass for a short nap before getting behind the wheel again. Twenty minutes later, we were both as good as gold.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 31st May, 2012 | Trackbacks
Categories: France
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