One of the things on our ‘Things to do in the Lot et Garonne’ list that Christine and I have actually done is to visit the ‘Observatoire du Fumélois’ (an Observatory close to Fumel, run by a local Astronomy enthusiasts club called ‘gap47′ !). Now it’s not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind when one is thinking of things to do whilst ‘en Vacances en France‘, but Christine quite likes her ‘star-gazing’, so when I stumbled upon the existence of the Observatory (on the internet of course), Christine persuaded me to find out a bit more about it and so it was that on our next visit to the Lot et Garonne, we trundled along one evening, to see what was on offer.
Now the good thing about the observatory is that you don’t have to be a ‘Patrick Moore’ or ‘Dr Brian Cox’ to go along - no, the guys at the facility are really friendly and very helpful (not to mention knowledgeable) and will also let you direct their massive – nay ‘Astronomical’ (sorry) Newtonian telescope at whichever part of the night sky you choose.
You can just turn up on spec any Friday evening, but if you want to ensure the attendance of an English-speaking person, to tell you all about what it is you’re ‘gazing’ at, then you just need to give them a quick ring in advance. All the details are on their very informative website - click here.
This pic reminds me, exactly, of my very first view of the planet Saturn. It was so crisp (more so than this pic) and I was pretty awe-struck that the ringed planet is actually more than 1.2 billion Km away – wow !
You can view anything – from the craters on our (relatively) nearby moon, star clusters, nebulaes, or even far off galaxies.
And when we went to the Observatory, it was free to visit – the guys just asked for a small donation to help with running costs, in fact in early 2012 they were undergoing some major construction to make the visitor experience even better.
If, however, visiting an observatory in the late evening is not your cup of tea, then you could do worse than sitting (or laying) by the pool at our very own Valmar Gite, when the sun sinks over the other side of the valley ! With the Lot et Garonne reputedly having some of the ‘Darkest skies’ in Europe (not much light pollution you see ) you could just do your own ‘star-gazing’ without leaving the comfort of your chair. And on a ‘balmy summers evening’ with a glass of your favourite tipple in your hand and the gentle sound of the neighbourhood frogs ‘riveting‘ in the distance – what could be more relaxing ?