The strange tower of La Babote, Montpallier's "eye".

In 1740, the States of Languedoc voted an annual gratuity of six hundred pounds for the construction in Montpellier of an observatory, a building that was to be erected on the base of a rampart tower.

The work was completed in 1745 and the Academy of Sciences took possession of it, then the Royal Society of Sciences set up its headquarters there from 1757 to 1761.

A notorious preoccupation of the astronomers of Babote, also called Babotte, was to locate it in space in order to refine their studies.

It was Abbé Picard who established the most precise coordinates, data that would be slightly corrected a few years later by Barthélémy Tandon, director of the Observatory.

Legend or reality, on December 26, 1783, a certain Sébastien Lenormand, inventor of the parachute, is said to have tested his invention by jumping from the building.

The roof of the building suffers from the ravages of time, some of the windows are broken and the observation instruments also suffer from the ravages of time.


The arrival of Chappe's telegraph...

All this led the rector of the Academy to relinquish his observatory.

On 1 January 1832, Chappe's telegraph was installed on the roof of the building.

So for 23 years, the roof of the building was crowned with two large articulated arms that made it possible to send coded messages to Paris, thanks to two different lines.

The first passed through Nîmes, Avignon, Lyon and Dijon and the second through Narbonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Tours.

This telegraph also corresponded with Marseille, Toulon and Bayonne. A technique that had the advantage of being faster than a man on horseback, but whose decline would come quickly with the invention of the wire telegraph, which dethroned Chappe's in Montpellier in 1855.

The Faculty of Sciences, which still has no place of observation, then recovers the building after restoration work.

It will carry out astronomical and meteorological studies which will be published in a local newspaper.

In 1890, the faculty will move to new premises and the unused tower will welcome in 1899, the Société colombophile de l'Hérault.

In 1903, the Babotte recovers its astronomical vocation by welcoming the Flammarion Society.

But in 1950, the mayor allocates the premises to the Entente bibliophile which installs the museum of old Montpellier for 30 years.

In 1981, the Fédération d'astronomie populaire amateur du Midi set up its headquarters there.

This association still occupies today this building with its so particular architecture.


Federation of Popular Amateur Astronomy of the South of France

Tour de la Babote

17, boulevard de l'Observatoire

Tel: 04 67 66 12 14


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To go further....

La tour de la babote tour de l'observatoire

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La Société Astronomique Flammarion de Montpellier et la Tour de la Babote

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L'Observatoire de la Babote

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