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Sunday March 24, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

Wild, remote, unique. Our road trip to ski three of the lesser known resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees takes us to a very special place.

First on the agenda on the PlanetSKI road trip was Port Ainé, a small but traditional ski resort popular with families and beginners.

Now it's Tavascan very close to the border with France.

It is anything but your average ski area.

It's a slow 20 minute drive up a narrow road with countless hairpin bends from the village of the same name which is to be my base.


But before I get onto the ski area, let's head back to the village to start the story.

It's a place full of character with just 60 inhabitants.

















































And it's steeped in history.

In the Second World War, Jews, French citizens and allied servicemen fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe crossed the Pyrenees from France through Tavascan.

Just a few years earlier, Spanish Republicans went the other way, attempting to escape the troops of the dictator, Franco.

TavascanTavascan looking towards France on the other side of the mountains
















Not all of them made it.

Lluis Colomé's Republican father was caught and imprisoned for four years.

Lluis is a native of Tavascan and is now in his 80s.

He owns two hotels which are run by his daughter, Araceli, and his son, Manel.

Tavascan hotel familyLluis Colomé with daughter Araceli & son Manel
















Lluis is responsible for me being here.

As Mayor of Tavascan for more than 30 years, it was his idea to set up a ski area.

At first it was a cross-country trail.

Then, in 1996, a chairlift was built.

And that was it.

There is still just one chairlift from the base at 1,750 metres up to the top at 2,250 metres.

TavascanTavascan ski area














Don't be fooled by the one lift and a couple of pistes.

Have look at how much mountain there is around them.

That's why when I arrive in the parking area there are tourers preparing to put skins on their skis.

Ski tourers in TavascanGetting ready for ski touring
















The refuge - where you can stay overnight, eat and drink - is full of kids waiting for lessons on piste, people on backcountry mountain safety courses, ski tourers, snowshoe hikers, a few alpine skiers and cross country skiers.

Refuge in TavascanRefugi Pleta Del Prat
















This place is about as remote as it can be and yet it's buzzing with activity.

"It's wild and natural and that's how we like it," the Head of Operations, Victor Perisé, tells me.

"You can walk for 10 minutes and be in the wild. We have a lot of freeride terrain."

I'm going to be walking for more than 10 minutes but on cross country skis with Nordic ski instructor Lluis Rovira.

Nordic skiing in TavascanWith Lluis Rovira
















"We don't have trails like in Norway," he tells me.

"There the cross-country is gentle up and down, up and down. Here we go up and up and then down and down".

We go up.

Nordic xc trail, TavascanGoing up
















It's late March, warm and sunny so the tracks are slushy and gliding the skis is not easy.


The cross country route is 14km long but we're not going that far today.

We stop at the viewpoint, the Mirador del Corviu before making our way back down.

At Mirador del Corviu, TavascanTaking a break at Mirador del Corviu

















Back at the refuge, it's time for some typical Catalan mountain refreshment.

Trinxat is a local dish of mashed potato, cabbage and bacon.

Trinxat Trinxat















Too soon it's time to move on.

This place is going to stay in my memory for a long time.

It really has a very special feel.

I find myself promising Victor and Lluis that I will come back for longer, stay at the refuge and sample a bit of all the things Tavascan has to offer.

There are a lot of ski areas I'd like to return to but I know that if I don't see and ski Tavascan again I will be truly disappointed.

In TavascanLoving Tavascan

















Skiing in Tavascan

Tavascan is in the Lleida Pyrenees in Catalonia.  Lleida has 11 ski resorts. For more information on them and what else to do in Lleida, visit the Lleida Tourism website.

Jane has now completed her road trip.  You can read her article on the third and final stop of the tour:
For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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