Ski the French Pyrenees

Ski the French Pyrenees
Ski the French Pyrenees | Source

Ski the French Pyrenees

Most people think that skiing in Europe is all about the Alps. However, the French Pyrenees ski areas are starting to get the recognition they deserve.

On an annual basis, the Atlantic maritime climate of the area gives high snowfall - averaging more than most areas in the Alps. This gives a long season from the end of November through to the end of April.

The Pyrenean resorts have also invested heavily in snow making so when mother nature doesn't deliver there will still be excellent skiing in the region.

Tourmalet is the largest of the Pyrenean resorts, with 70 pistes, 42 ski-lifts and over 100km of on-piste skiing available. This resort is excellent for beginners and intermediate skiers, with gentle nursery slopes and beautiful, wide runs giving access to every area of the resort. The resort has 24 green and 20 blue pistes, making it possible to visit all of the five interconnected ski areas without straying onto anything too challenging. Not forgetting the advanced skiers though, there are 21 red runs, and 5 blacks... and have we talked about off-piste and ski-touring yet?

The Pyrenees are one of the few unbroken mountain chains in Northern Europe. Unlike the Alps or Dolomites, there are very roads few cutting across them. While this is a nuisance for travellers wanting to easily hop between France and Spain, it means you have wild peaks, where bears still roam, wildlife is in abundance and you can truly get lost. For the adventurous and expert skiers, you can try the the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, one of the most celebrated off-piste routes in Europe. Ski-touring is also a dream here. It's possible to spend a day skiing down virgin snow without seeing any other person and get that “me and the mountains” feeling.

Hurry though. There’s now a revamped ski station at Bareges, including a new ticket office, toilet and cafe area, a new 4-man lift to replace the Coume Lounque button tow above the Col du Tourmalet, three super-fast six man chairs that can whisk you across to La Mongie in no time and rumours about re-opening the funicular that takes you straight from the village of Bareges onto the pistes... this area is starting to buzz. A newly renovated 3 star hotel in Bareges, Hotel Du Tourmalet, due to open Winter 2011, has encouraged the local hoteliers to spruce up their hotels too.

Pyrenean skiing might still be a well-kept secret, but not for much longer.

Follow this link for more information on skiing in the Pyrenees.

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