If you like skiing, you’ll love the Pyrenees. Family-friendly or sporty and always fun, the range of resorts in the Pyrenees is so wide that there’s something to suit everyone, whatever their ability. And in both winter and summer, you can marvel at the stunning natural surroundings, going hiking or taking a thermal bath with views of the mountains.
Skiing: an essential activity on holiday in the Pyrenees
Which ski resort to choose in the Pyrenees? Just an hour and a half’s drive from Toulouse, Luchon is the gateway to the Pyrenees with the resort of Superbagnères and its 28 pistes for all levels. Another asset is its breathtaking views of the massif of Maladeta and Aneto (3,404 metres), the roof of the Pyrenees on the Spanish side.
At the foot of the Pic du Midi, La Mongie sees big: with 100 kilometres of pistes, Le Grand Tourmalet is the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees. Beginners, advanced skiers or freestyle fans are all catered for, including snowboarders with the snowpark. The highlight is the descent down the Pic du Midi, 2,877 metres above sea level. Before setting off, fuel up on the terraces with their 360-degree panorama.
To tackle the Pyrenees’ longest track (3 kilometres long, with 600 metres’ altitude difference), you need to base yourself in Saint-Lary. This Pyrenean village has three areas: family-friendly Saint-Lary 1700 with its beginners’ slopes, daycare and toboggan run; Saint-Lary 1900 for the main descent; and Saint-Lary 2400 for general skiing.
Gateway to the Pyrenees National Park, Cauterets is ideal for cross-country skiing, while its ‘Pont d'Espagne’ offers snowshoeing and hiking, and there’s Belle-Époque architecture to admire.
Les Angles and Font-Romeu
In the Catalan Pyrenees, the old village of Les Angles sits at the foot of 45 runs for all levels, including the experienced who have a snowpark and a freeride space. And in Font-Romeu, visit the beautiful Romanesque churches of the region as a bonus – before sleeping in an igloo!
Outdoors in the Pyrenees
Exceptional nature and wildlife in the Pyrenees
On holiday in the Pyrenees, you’re surrounded by nature in its purest state at the Pyrenees National Park. With over 45,000 uninhabited hectares, this park encompasses six valleys and is a real sanctuary of biodiversity. The endemic plant species are the most original in Europe – and you can see brown bears, marmots and many species of threatened birds of prey such as bearded vultures, tawny vultures and golden eagles in the Ossau nature reserve.
The Pyrenees’ dramatic landscapes will take your breath away. In Gavarnie, a glacial fountain rising 3,000 metres above sea level is the most popular spot for ice falls – its 400-metre cascade is entirely frozen in winter.
From the Pic du Midi (2,877 metres), you’ll learn to recognise the surrounding peaks, travel into the stars at the Planetarium and dance above the void on a metal bridge suspended in the sky. And for more magic, opt for a sky observation session and gourmet dinner under the stars.
Spirituality and culture in the Pyrenees
At the foot of the Pyrenees, Lourdes occupies a special place: this small town has been a place of pilgrimage since 1858 and is the most visited place in France after Paris. Its sanctuaries are numerous: Grotto Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared 18 times, basilicas, a crypt, the Sainte-Bernadette church and chapel. Also don’t miss the Pyrenean Musée du Chateau and the Pic du Jer, with its views across the chain of the Pyrenees. And don’t leave the area without attending a rugby match, preferably in Bagneres-de-Bigorre.
The Pyrenees: a wellness destination
With 31 spas and more than 10 spa centres, the Pyrenees take well-being very seriously. In Luchon you can dive into the steam bath at the vaporarium, a network of underground galleries where thermal waters are kept at 72 degrees – or experience the Japanese baths in Balnéa in the Louron Valley. And in winter, there’s nothing better in the world than an outdoor bath in a hot spring facing the Pyrenees!