Visit the Tour de la Babote in Montpellier: tickets, prices, opening hours

Are you spending your vacations in the pretty city of Montpellier? Head for the historic center to visit the Tour de la Babote!

For forty years, the beautiful city of Montpellier has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors, who come to enjoy its exceptional quality of life and remarkable cultural heritage. Close to Spain, this dynamic, multicultural student city abounds in museums, concert halls and festivals. Just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean, Montpellier is also easily accessible from all major French cities. It’s the ideal place to spend your vacations with family or friends.

Among Montpellier’s countless attractions, the Tour de la Babote is a must-see. According to legend, it was from this tower that Sébastien Lenormand, inventor of the parachute, made his first jump on December 26, 1783.

Would you like to discover one of the remains of Montpellier’s fortifications? Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Tour de la Babote in Montpellier.

History of the Tour de la Babote

Histoire de la Tour de la Babote, Montpellier

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Built by Guilhem 6 in 1205, the Tour de la Babote is one of Montpellier’s ancient fortifications. Located on boulevard de l’Observatoire, it is one of the few remaining vestiges of the city’s ancient walls, whose construction began at the end of the 12th century. At the time, these fortifications included twelve entrance gates and covered an area of forty-five hectares. Today, only the Porte de la Blanquerie (at the bottom of Rue de l’Université) and the Porte du Pila Saint Gély remain.

Babote, symbol of astronomy

In 1740, the States of Languedoc approved the construction of an observatory based on the Tour de la Babote, also known as the Tour des bains or Tour de la Weasel. In 1745, once the work was completed, the Académie des Sciences took possession of the building. From 1757 to 1761, it was the turn of the Royal Society of Sciences to set up its headquarters here. Astronomy is said to have been born here, when theAbbé Picard, a renowned astronomer, gathered around him a group of enthusiasts of the universe. But as time went by, the tower gradually fell into disrepair, as did the instruments inside. The observatory was finally abandoned.

On January 1, 1832, the Chappe telegraph was installed on the roof for military purposes. Coded messages were sent to Paris via two large articulated arms and two telegraph lines: one to Nîmes, Avignon, Lyon and Dijon, and the other to Narbonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Tours. Communications were also established with Marseille, Toulon and Bayonne.

After renovation work, the Faculty of Science took over the building, where it carried out astronomical and meteorological studies. In turn, it left the building in 1890. In 1899, the Société colombophile de l’Hérault moved in.

In 1903, La Babote returned, for a time, to its astronomical vocation, hosting the Société Flammarion. In 1927, it was listed as a French historic monument. In 1950, the Mayor of Montpellier awarded the premises of the Tour de Babote to the city’s Entente Bibliophile. A museum was then installed. Finally, in 1981, the Société Astronomique de Montpellier moved in.

What to see and do at the Tour de la Babote?

Que voir et faire à la Tour de la Babote à Montpellier ?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / goumi

Visit the Babote Tower

Visiting the Tour de la Babote requires a guide. Reservations can be made directly at the Tourist Office, located on Place de la Comédie in Montpellier.

On the second floor, you’ll find the Astronomical Society of Montpellier, as well as an exhibition room paying tribute to the history of the Tour de la Babote and astronomy in the region.

Take part in a stargazing session

To find out more, head to the second floor. Here, every two weeks, members of the Montpellier Astronomical Society gather to discuss a specific theme.

At the top of the Tour de la Babote, you’ll find a computer-controlled 250 mm telescope for observing Jupiter, Saturn and, of course, the Moon. Depending on the season, you’ll be able to make out Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s red spot, the Andromeda Galaxy and the brightest nebulae. To take part in these observation evenings, contact the Société d’Astronomie de Montpellier directly.

Observations of the sky, open to the public, are also regularly organized at Pic-Saint-Loup by the Society. The Society has also been awarded the NASA « asteroid hunter » label. To date, members of the Astronomical Society have discovered ninety asteroids.

How do I get to the Tour de la Babote?

Getting to Montpellier

  • By train

Montpellier is easy to get to by train. The city is well served by TGV, TER and intercity trains.

  • By plane

You can also choose to fly into Montpellier-Fréjorgues airport. Flights from all major French cities are readily available. And if you book well in advance, you should be able to take advantage of attractive fares. To compare prices, go to Ulysse

Once at the airport, the line 120 shuttle bus will take you directly to Montpellier city center. It leaves every fifteen minutes. You can also take tramway line 1, direction Odysseum, to get to Montpellier train station.

  • By bus

Numerous bus companies offer journeys to Montpellier from all major French cities. Buses offer excellent value for money.

  • By car

Driving to Montpellier is easy from most French cities. To give you an example, it will take you just under eight hours from Paris. And for a more environmentally-friendly vacation, think about carpooling!

Go to Tour de la Babote

The tower is located at 17 boulevard de l’Observatoire.

To get there, take tramway lines 3 or 4 and get off at Observatoire station.

Tour de la Babote opening times and prices

Horaires et tarifs de la Tour de la Babote à Montpellier

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Inu

SCHEDULES

Visits are by reservation only, and times vary from day to day.

To visit the Tour de la Babote in Montpellier, contact the Tourist Office or get in touch with a tourist organization (local or online) offering guided tours.

RATES

  • Adults: €8
  • Students, over-65s, unemployed and disability card holders: €6
  • Under 18s, accompanied by an adult: free

GOOD TO KNOW

1. The guided tour lasts about an hour.

2. Please note that you will have to climb over one hundred and thirty steps to visit the Tour de la Babote. It is therefore not accessible to strollers or people with reduced mobility.

3. For reduced-rate tickets, please bring a receipt! You’ll be asked for it at the Tourist Office.

4. A minimum of eight participants is required for the tour to take place. No more than seventeen people may take part in a guided tour.

5. Tickets can be purchased online or by telephone up to one hour before the tour.