All you need to know about the Pyrenees
These resorts, which have come together under the N'Py name, are committed to quality and sustainable development, with a focus on practicalities such as the sale of tickets online.
The 15 Nordic sites in the Pyrenees
Wonderful cross-country tracks can be found in valleys and plateaux nestling amid a landscape of wild peaks along the hundreds of kilometres of the Pyrenees. Examples include:
Just some of the 28 mountain resorts in the Pyrenees...
Much more than just a resort, Font-Romeu has the feel of a proper small town, with its bustling activity and superb facilities (swimming pool, ice rink etc). Situated at the heart of the open and sunny landscapes of the Pyrénées Catalanes (80km from Perpignan), Font-Romeu is a popular town for sport and acts as an altitude training base for great champions from the sporting world. Here, visitors can enjoy the famous Pyrenean mountain air and spectacular views which will take your breath away! In terms of downhill skiing, the ski area here is linked to that of Bolquère-Pyrénées 2000 (offering 54km of "guaranteed snow" thanks to its 500 snow machines). Font-Romeu is also the perfect base for cross-country skiing and ski touring (110km of tracks and virgin areas) amid unspoilt, pristine landscapes, such as the area towards the Lac des Bouillouses.
With 50km of downhill runs accessed via 15 ski lifts (including one cable car), and 42km of cross-country tracks, Les Angles offers a full range of winter activities. The resort's longstanding trump cards include the snowpark, created 18 years ago and still a popular venue for "freestylers", and the French Handiski Cup, which is held here every year. The loyalty of its visitors is a key feature for Les Angles, which is situated amid the unspoilt scenery of the Capcir, in an emblematic part of the Pyrénées Catalanes.
Situated on the fringes of the Cerdagne, in an unspoilt area of the Catalan mountains, the resort of Puigmal is firmly focused on quality, as witnessed by its ISO 14001 certification, and on offering visitors a varied choice of runs for every level and discipline. Because of its relatively high altitude, the resort also enjoys excellent snow conditions.
Overlooking a stone village typical of the Cerdagne region, and located just 15km from the principality of Andorra, Porté-Puymorens boasts 45km of downhill runs as well as attractive cross-country tracks amid untamed landscapes.
Ax-3 domaines (Ariège) 1400-2,000m
In the heart of the Ariège, not far from the peaks of Andorra, the slopes of Bonascre, Saquet and Campels provide a pretty forested backdrop for a full array of winter activities. The resort has held the ELH label (Espace Loisir Handisport - Leisure Area for the Disabled) for several years now, with equipment and instructors available for disabled skiers. The ski area is easily accessible and has a direct return rail link to Toulouse enabling inhabitants of the Ville Rose to enjoy a full's day skiing here by purchasing a combined Ski-Rail pass (in partnership with TER-SNCF).
Luchon-Super-Bagnères (Haute-Garonne) 1,440-2,260m
Nestled deep in a valley at an altitude of 600m, the small town of Luchon takes full advantage of its spa town charms which it combines with the winter sports on offer in nearby Super-Bagnères (32km of ski runs and 15 lifts), so that visitors can enjoy a "spa-balneotherapy" session in one of Luchon's spa and fitness centres after a full day of skiing or exploring. With its thermal springs, delightful landscapes and cosseted atmosphere, Luchon-Super Bagnères has it all!
Cauterets (Hautes-Pyrénées) 1,850-2,450m
This small town with a unique feel is tucked away in a valley at an altitude of 935m. A spa town with an intriguing history, Cauterets boasts impressive architecture typified by its spa buildings and old palaces which recall the visits of dignitaries from the First and Second Empire periods as well as Romantic writers such as Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand etc. The Domaine du Lys, a ski area offering downhill skiing for all abilities on slopes above the town, is accessible via a cable car. The major Pont d'Espagne ski area, further to the south along the valley, promises spectacular views which can be best enjoyed by cross-country skiers or snowshoe enthusiasts who are able to get close to Le Vignemale, the highest summit on the French side of the Pyrenees.
Famous for its vertiginous semi-circular cliffs, the Cirque de Gavarnie is classified as both a "Grand Site" and a "UNESCO World Heritage Site" (within the Franco-Spanish area of Le Mont-Perdu), as well as being part of the Parc National des Pyrénées. The magnificent scenery here provides a stunning backdrop for this ski area with 29 pistes, an hour from Lourdes. The resort enjoys abundant snowfall and has been awarded the "station-kid" label because of its child-friendly facilities.
With 100km of ski runs spread out across the two sides of the famous Le Tourmalet pass, this ski area is the largest in the Pyrenees, connecting a large purpose-built resort (La Mongie) with a spa village-resort (Barèges). Another attraction here is the cable car which transports visitors to the top of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, at 2,877m one of the highest peaks in the range, where they can enjoy spectacular views and a visit to the astronomy observatory. The more intrepid (hardened skiers accompanied by a professional mountain guide) can attempt a daring (and steep) off-piste descent in an area renowned for its free-riding! Although less challenging, a ski touring trek to the Massif de Néouvielle promises a wonderful sense of adventure and discovery.
Luz-Ardiden is also endowed with a typically Pyrenean atmosphere, with ski areas surrounded by lofty peaks, traditional villages with an authentic feel dotted along the valley, and its spa waters providing well-being for its visitors. The rustic architecture along the bank of the "gave" (a mountain river in the local dialect) and a full range of activities (including those at the Luzea "well-being" centre) combine harmoniously with the pleasures of skiing with family and friends.
Straddling the mountain crests between the Le Louron and Larboust valleys (and two French départements), this ski area stretching across 60km of pistes, is particularly popular with "riders" (Peyragudes is also home to a top boardercross course and snowpark). Two small resort areas (Les Agudes and Peyresourde) cling to each side of the mountain. The new building programmes here are focused on "environmental quality and energy saving". The setting is magnified by an horizon of high peaks above 3,000m overlooking the Le Louron valley with its array of cultural treasures: traditional farms, painted chapels etc.
Located right at the end of the Aure valley (in the Pays des Nestes), to the south-west of Saint-Lary, and linked to Spain via the nearby Bielsa tunnel, this resort has a futuristic feel with its unusual "curved" architecture. The heart of the resort stands at 1,850m (snow guaranteed), while the ski area extends between 1,420m and 2,530m, offering one of the best natural descents in the Pyrenees: 900m in one go!
The slopes of Le Pla d'Adet and Espiaube provide the setting for this superb ski area overlooking the Aure valley and Saint-Lary, which is both a resort and traditional small town at an altitude of 600m. A winding road, ski lift and a brand-new cable car provide access to the slopes where the resort has made an impressive commitment to sustainable development! The ski area offers one of the best choices in the Pyrenees, with 55 runs spread out across a huge area with options for every type of skiing. The centre of Saint-Lary down in the valley has a strong character and identity all of its own: with its typical architecture and traditional way of life the Aure valley is a listed Pays d'Art et d'Histoire, home to the Maison de l'Ours (Bear Museum), and in its upper valley is the perfect spot for ski touring or snowshoe treks to the famous landscapes of the Néouvielle lakes. In Saint-Lary the health benefits of spring water provide the perfect antidote to activities on the slopes, in particular the attractively designed Centre Thermoludique Sensoria, with its comforting "well-being" area.
Tucked away at the end of the Ossau valley, on the slopes of the legendary Aubisque pass, Gourette is a typically Pyrenean resort which is a microcosm of the range as a whole. The ski area here is extensive with two cable cars, slopes with a total altitude drop of just over 1,000m, a large snowpark, a long boardercross track, a 7ha fun zone dedicated to beginners, and a huge choice of events and activities for visitors. A few kilometres to the west, the typical village of Les Eaux-Bonnes (a reference to the thermal springs which were already popular here during the time of Napoleon III), provides a further insight into the region's temperament.
La Pierre Saint-Martin (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) 1,500-2,200m
Nestled amid the unique landscapes of the Haut-Béarn (Baretous valley), this mountain resort known to pot-holers for its underground chasms has a downhill ski domain as well as two cross-country ski areas. With the Basque mountains as a backdrop, the resort offers visitors a full array of events and activities both on and off the slopes.