The International Dark Sky Reserve (RICE)

An exceptional natural setting

The Pic du Midi with all the villages of the Gavarnie Valleys is the largest International Starry Sky Reserve (RICE) in continental Europe.

RICE protects and preserves the night sky through public education and by promoting responsable light pollution.
Thanks to this accreditation, the night sky is protected and recognized as exceptionally pure.



This is the first Sky Reserve certified by the International Dark-sky Association in Europe, and there are only two in France!

This unique area comprises 247 participating municipalities and covers 65% of the Hautes-Pyrénées, or 3,300 km².

Reduce light pollution

The Pic du Midi and all the villages of the Gavarnie valleys is the largest international Starry Sky reserve (RICE) in continental Europe, accredited by the International Dark Sky Association.

These municipalities are committed to reducing light pollution and their ecological footprint for the sustainable development of their mountain ranges. This commitment allows visitors to contemplate the starry sky in its purest form possible. For this purpose, the Gavarnie valleys offer activities, concerts and outdoor night activities all summer long so as to make the most of this exceptional natural scenery.

The mountain: an ideal place for star gazing!

There’s nothing like a balmy summer night to look up, and take time to admire the sky with its thousands of twinkling stars.

Here are some tips for a successful night star gazing! At nightfall, after a few minutes’ walk, you can quickly get away from the lights of towns and villages, thus avoiding "light pollution". The ideal scenario would be to head to a high point, a mountain col for example, on an evening when the weather is good. Nights are cool in the mountains, so dress warmly and lie comfortably on a warm blanket: will you recognize the Big Dipper or the Dog star?

To find your bearings in the sky, many star gazing applications can help you locate stars, constellations or planets in real time.

The Hautacam nebulae

Every Tuesday during the summer, the Astro Club organises an evening dedicated to astronomy on the Hautacam col. After an hour’s walk and a convivial meal taken together at the restaurant, head to the observatory set up there by these enthusiasts to admire the Nebulae, celestial objects composed of gas and dust with multiple shapes and colours.
Info and reservations: +33 (0) 5 62 97 10 16

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