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Observatory of Mont Aigoual
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The highest point in the Gard is a fascinating site. Extremely hard to reach in winter, where an aerial struggle is fought between ocean and Mediterranean airstreams, often at 28 degrees below zero (Celsius!), and winds measured at over 300 km/h, not to mention wild rain (over 2 metres per year – don’t forget that the word Aigoual refers to water, snow and fog…), it is hard to believe that Mont Aigoual could attract visitors. And yet, that it does. An oasis of refreshingly cool weather in the summer, Mont Aigoual lives among the stars, analyses the weather, and delivers outstanding views over nearly one-fourth of France!
An amazing experience awaits you at the peak of Mont Aigoual. Here stands an impressive château-fort like building which houses the last mountain weather station in France. Inaugurated in 1894, the observatory also has a weather museum which draws over 80,000 visitors each year. Step into the shoes of a Météo-France technician as you visit the temporary and permanent displays which cover 350 m² of space. See the tools and techniques and learn about meteorological phenomena on the many interactive, educational supports. There are also over 800 photographs of Mont Aigoual and a big-screen film that compose a hymn to the wild beauty of nature here.
Mont Aigoual, slated to become the 4-season Nature Pole, is also hikers’ paradise. If you are not ready to tackle the famous 4000 steps which entail 1200 metres altitude change, there are 28 different marked paths to explore. For skiers, the Prat Peyrot family-style ski resort has 14 downhill trails, 60 km of cross-country trails, and snowshoe trails at nearly 1500 metres altitude.
To discover more, go to our INTERACTIVE MAP
Each year in springtime, thousands of sheep leave behind the plains and valleys in the Cevennes to reach the Mont Aigoual highlands where they spend a peaceful summer. Colourful pompoms and tinkling collars embellish the sheep as they begin their climb, creating a luminous, musical sight. Towards mid-June, they pass through the hamlet of L'Espérou, the occasion for a grand celebration. Lots of special events, workshops and demonstrations of local expertise (sheep-herding dogs, shearing, other), local dancing, a shepherd banquet and a great market are all part of the fun. Not to be missed.
On the southern slope of Mont Aigoual, climbing the 4,000 steps has become a legendary foot race that lasts 11 km and entails 1222 metres altitude change! The race starts from Valleraugue and is named after the church staircase that marks the true start of the race, and also refers to the 20 to 70-cm high rocky steps which follow!
OR...continue your exploration of Gard County