The 007 connection.....!01 November 2020 | By The Ancienne Poste Team | 1
The 007 connection……!
For those who have visited L’Ancienne Poste in the past, especially to ski, you may have noticed several references in the valley to 007 and James Bond particularly up at our local ski resort, Peyragudes. However, how many of you know why? Well here is the story! Peyragudes is home to the only altiport in the Pyrenees - Peyresourde-Balestas. An altiport is a mountain airport where the landing strip is on a sharp incline (or decline depending on whether you are landing or taking off!). Altiports are renowned for their technical difficulty and a special qualification is required for pilots to be allowed to land and take off from the altiport. The runway is 470m long with an incline of 15%.
The altiport has been established for over 40 years but back in 1997 it made the big screen when it was chosen as the location for the opening sequences of the 18th Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” starring Pierce Brosnan.
Peyragudes and its surrounding stunning mountains became “the Russian border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union” with an arms camp built at the end of the runway. In the film Bond was sent to infiltrate and spy on the arms dealers. He uses the altiport to undertake the standard Bond “last minute escape” naturally in a commandeered fighter jet. It is all you expect from a Bond movie opening, big action, high octane and incredible views of our mountains.
“The Altiport is nestled in the mountains”
The logistics for a small valley were incredible. In January 1997 some 250 technicians, 50 actors and stuntmen accompanied by 50 tons of equipment, 50 war vehicles and a Czech training aircraft from the 1980s, the L39, arrived in the valley. The L39 landed at the altiport but many others were brought in by road and parked at the altiport to create the imagery necessary for a blockbuster movie. Local inhabitants still remember the filming, the gigantic explosions, fighter planes flying overhead and other planes flying through the landscape to capture the incredible mountain images in our valley.
The filming brought many improvements to the landing strip and the ski resort including a contract with EDF to put underground many kilometres of high-tension electrical lines protecting our region from ugly pylons. The legacy of Bond and 007 lives on in the Vallee du Louron. On the 20th anniversary of the film, in 2017, the altiport was renamed Altiport 007 as a tribute to the film. It was also made larger and a new clubhouse/control tower constructed. The same year it also welcomed the finish of Stage 12 of the Tour de France.
Whether you are skiing in the winter or taking part in many of our varied summer activities James Bond will never be far from you. You may think of him when you ride the “Skyvall” cable car up to the resort to ski or mountain bike. Maybe you will be relaxing over a drink by the lake during the summer months at the “Altibar007”, complete with directors’ chairs named after Bond actors or at the top of Peyragudes where the bar relocates during the winter months so you can sip a beer and enjoy the views!
Better still join us all at the Ancienne Poste and rewatch or watch for the first time the film in the comfort of our cosy lounge in front of a roaring fire with a drink or two having spent the day retracing the footsteps of James Bond!