Where you can see the stars in France
See wonderful night skies with our pick of top places for stargazing in France
L’Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Pyrénées
Perched at the summit of the Pic du Midi (2,877m) in the French Pyrénées, this space observatory is one of the best places to enjoy clear, uninterrupted views of the night sky. Various night-sky events take place here and it is even possible to stay the night. An overnight stay at the observatory this winter costs from €399 (double room) and includes cable car access, dinner and breakfast, the use of a 400mm telescope and the opportunity to watch the sunrise. picdumidi.com
Planétarium de l’Observatoire de Marseille
This observatory is run by Aix-Marseille University and the CNRS and in 1877 was where a group of galaxies known as Stephan’s Quintet was discovered by scientist Edouard Stephan. The centre features exhibitions for the young and old and is home to a telescope dating back to 1864. andromede.id.st
Astrofarm, L’Alouette, Confolens
Sue and Andrew’s custom-built observatory in L’Alouette near Confolens is tailored for amateur astronomers aged 14 and over. (Don’t forget to ask Andrew to open his box of treasures that includes pieces of Mercury, Mars and the moon). B&B here costs from €30 per person and you can stay on a nightly B&B basis or join a structured course. theknowledgeobservatory.com
L’Observatoire Astronomique de Lyon
Part of Lyon University, this observatory is a state-of-the-art research centre that houses exhibitions on space technological advances. This centre also offers a number of regular public night activities with one of the most popular being Friday sunset stargazing. observatoire.univ-lyon1.fr
Cité de l’ espace, Toulouse
This interactive space exhibition centre combines the history of space exploration with the latest happenings in the world of astronomy, including information on the International Space Station. Other centre highlights include full-scale models of the Ariane 5 rocket, a mock-up of a control room and a new 280-seat planetarium that presents shows throughout the day. en.cite-espace.com
L’Observatoire de Nice
Located on top of Mont-Gros, this observatory was founded in 1891 and has helped astronomers identify some two thousand new stars through the centuries. Today the observatory offers a number of stargazing activities. oca.eu
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This popular theme park near Poitiers is home to a planetarium and various other space-related rides and exhibitions, including the spectacular cosmic collisions 3D show. Here you can witness everything from an asteroid smashing into Planet Earth to two galaxies colliding with one another. en.futuroscope.com
L’Observatoire de Paris
France’s largest astronomy centre has three sites, which are home to 30 per cent of the country’s astronomers. The observatory, which was founded in 1667, is closely linked with the major scientific universities in greater Paris and is due to launch new stargazing programs for visitors in early 2017. obspm.fr
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