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PLANETSKI IS IN THE PYRENEES - PlanetSKI Team
Wednesday March 20, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

We're posting a series of reports from Europe's other mountain range. Special reports from France, Spain & Andorra.



The Pyrenees is a huge range of mountains with some fabulous ski resorts on the French side, in the centre is Andorra and then there is the unique atmosphere in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Our reporter Iain Martin is France and is reporting from Les Angles and Ax 3 Domaine. 

"It has been a cold and clear day with blue skies, but firm underfoot here in Les Angles," said Iain on arrival. 

"Although the snow cover is not deep, the coverage on piste is excellent thanks to good work by the snow cannons earlier in the season."

Les Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees



























Les Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees



























And on Day 2:

"Another day of perfect blue skies in the French Pyrénées - no one on the slopes in Les Angles this morning before moving on to Ax 3 Domaines. No time to ski there today, but enough time to sooth my feet in the thermal waters flowing through the main square," said Iain.

Les Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees


























Ax 3 Domaines, French PyreneesAx 3 Domaines, French Pyrenees


































And then check out the video reports:





We'll also be hearing  hear from Sarah Bell who has been visiting La Monjie and St Lary in the French Pyrenees with her family.

Her highlight seems to be the walkway at the Pic du Midi.

Pic du Midi, French PyreneesPic du Midi, French Pyrenees




























Andorra has always been a great area for beginners and PlanetSKI reporter, Kay Frances, will be reporting from Arinsal as she tries to move on from being a beginner.

Our Chief reporter Jane Peel, arrived in Spain on Friday and is visiting the little known resorts of Port Aine, Tavascan and Boi Taull, all in the province of Lleida.

First stop Port Aine:




Read Jane's report on the first part of her road trip:
Our reporter, Catherine Cooper, is in the better known Spanish ski area of Baqueira Beret. 

She takes us round the resort...

Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesCatherine Cooper in Baqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























With 160 km of pistes and just over a two-hour drive from Toulouse Airport, Baqueira Beret is perhaps the best ski resort that you've never heard of.

Almost unknown to the British market and with few mainstream tour operators offering packages to the resort, this is the place to go for relatively uncrowded slopes even during the major holidays.

The ski area is divided into three well-linked areas - Baqueira in the middle, with Bonaigua and Beret to either side.


Piste mapPiste map


















Accommodation is only in the Baqueira area, though both Beret and Bonaigua have large car parks where day visitors access the lifts.

The purpose-built village of Baquiera is at 1500 metres, linked to the start of the ski area by a short gondala lift, and each of the three areas has lifts which rise above 2500 metres.

A new drag lift ‘Baciver' opened this year, giving access to five new red runs and taking you to the highest point of the resort at 2,610 metres.

There are pistes to suit all levels in all areas but in broad brush strokes, Bonaigua is the most easterly, has most black runs and is the least populated.

Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesBaqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























The central area of Baqueira is usually the busiest and has runs to suit everyone - the main beginner's area is here, as well as a former off-piste route which is now a black run (Passarells), billed as the most demanding in the resort.

Beret is mainly made up of wide blue and red runs, most suited to beginners and intermediates.

Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesBaqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























There are also plenty of off-piste opportunities here and, being in Spain, even heliskiing is possible.

Visiting in March following a long warm, dry spell, the snow was mainly in pretty good shape, though many of the black runs were closed and off-piste opportunities were very limited.

However the 660 snow machines meant that everywhere was accessible and there was still plenty of fun to be had.

There are several on-piste restaurants and bars - they range from huge canteen-style restaurants serving pizza, burgers, chicken and chips and excellent salads with plenty of tables both inside and out, to the upscale Cinco Jotas which specialises in acorn-fed Iberian ham.

There's even a Moët Champagne Bar.

The first lift was opened in 1964 and while the resort of Baqueira is purpose-built, strict building regulations mean most of the buildings are attractively stone-clad.

Accommodation ranges from standard apartments to several five-star hotels, and while there is no clearly-defined centre as such, there are a few restaurants and bars, plus all the usual services such as ski shops and pharmacies.

It's worth getting out into the nearby traditional villages if you can (by car is easiest, though there are also buses) - Arties, for example, is chocolate-box pretty with around thirty bars and restaurants, cute boutiques and even a Romanesque church.

I stayed at the our-star Hotel Himalaia that is run by Pierre et Vacances - with over 100 rooms it is one the largest hotels in the resort.

Hotel Himalaia, Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesHotel Himalaia, Baqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























Rooms are modern and comfortable with a few added luxuries such as a pillow menu, rain-head showers and Rituals toiletries in the bathroom.

There are two restaurants and two bars, a large lounge, a small pool and spa and also a free kids' club, open late afternoon until early evening.

Hotel Himalaia, Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesHotel Himalaia, Baqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























The main gondola is around a 50 metre walk away, with the hotel's ski lockers right underneath the lift so there was no need for a long walk in ski boots lugging skis.

Chicken soup on your return from skiing is a nice touch, as are the slippers and pillow chocolates in the bedrooms.

Following the Himalayan theme, there are items from Nepal and Tibet dotted throughout the hotel.

Unusually the hotel provides two guides to notionally act as ‘sherpas' - introducing you not only to the slopes but also to the culture of the area.

Every morning Bernard and Juan are available to show intermediate skiers around the slopes.

The service is free of charge and you simply sign up at reception, the two groups being divided according to their standard of skiing.

In the afternoons and early evenings snowshoe outings are on offer, as well as trips to the local town of Vielha for tapas and a tour of some of the villages.

With a large ski area, relaxed Spanish vibe, uncrowded pistes and easily accessible from the UK, Baqueira Beret is an excellent choice for skiers of all levels who like to travel independently.

It's even an easy drive from the airport with no hairpin bends.

I'm almost reluctant to write about it - it feels like giving away a secret.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Seven nights' accommodation with breakfast at Pierre & Vacances 4*, Hôtel Himalaia Baqueira starts from £286 / 333€pp based on two people sharing a double room.

A one-day adult lift pass for Baqueira Beret is priced from £45 / 52€

A six-day adult lift pass for Baqueira Beret is priced from £216 / 252€

Transfers provided by HolidayTaxis. Return transfers from Toulouse Airport to Baqueira-Beret cost from £309 pp based on two people sharing a vehicle.

Visit www.holidaytaxis.com or call 01273 828200.

See here for further details.

Baqueira Beret, Spanish PyreneesBaqueira Beret, Spanish Pyrenees

























For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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