Panorama top from a photo by Pierre Benard, licence GNU
Ski resorts in the French Pyrenees
Skiing in the French Pyrenees
The Pyrenees; It is the Pyrenees that, after the Alps, undoubtedly offer the widest selection of ski resorts in France. Apart from the distance, and the possibility of a lack of snow in this mountain range straddling the French-Spanish border, the Pyrenees is a ski area with everything in its favour. And as in the other non-Alpine mountain ranges, Pyrenean resorts tend to be less crowded than popular Alpine resorts, except during school holidays.
The biggest ski area in the French Pyrenees is in the Hautes Pyrénées department, midway between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Tourmalet (Barèges La Mongie), lies south of Lourdes and Tarbes; it is the second oldest ski resort in France, after Chamonix, and the ski area here has 42 ski lifts, has 69 pistes covering 100 km, and culminates at a height of 2,500 metres. . Not far from Tourmalet is Cauterets, a traditional Pyrenean town that has developed as a ski resort, with 24 pistes. Saint Lary Soulan, almost on the Spanish border, has some of the highest runs in the Pyrenees, up to 2500 metres. The resort at Super-Bagnères (1440 - 2260 metres) is directly accessible by cablecar from the town of Luchon (630m), so normally easily accessible by road under any weather conditions.
In the eastern Pyrenees, the largest domain is Font-Romeu / Pyrenees 2000, a large area with 58 km of slopes of all levels for a single ski-pass. There are also over 100 km. of cross-country skiing pistes here. The resort is equipped with 500 snow cannons. Close by is Les Angles, with 26 ski lifts and 32 pistes, plus over 250 snow cannons..
Ski resorts Vosges, Jura, Massif Central
The Vosges.The Vosges mountains, running north-south between Lorraine and Alsace, in the east of France, have four main ski resorts with over fifteen pistes each. The Vosges benefit from the most continental climate in France, and in cold winters the vosges ski resorts offer very good snow, even though the highest spot on any piste is less than 1400 metres. The biggest Vosges resort is La Bresse, with 30 runs, snow cannons and illuminated pistes for evening skiing. This resort is popular with day-trippers from Nancy, Metz, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
The Jura.A bit higher than the Vosges, the Jura is a range of mountains running along the northern border of Switzerland. The Jura ski resorts are along the crest of the range, some in France, others in Switzerland. They peak at between 1400m and 1600m. The most popular French Jura ski resorts are Les Rousses, just north of Geneva, and Métabief-Mont-d'Or, with 42 km of pistes, north of Lausanne. The Jura is also particularly appreciated for its nordic / cross-country skiing.
The Massif Central;with peaks rising to over 1,800 metres, the Massif Central, in central southern France, has a number of small ski areas, and two big ones, Besse-Sancy (45 km of pistes) and Le Lioran (40 km of pistes). Both these resorts are fully equipped, and have an Alpine feel to them. They have cablecars, and plenty of ski lifts and ski tows.
Avoiding the crowds
For the Pyrenees and for the Auvergne, avoid the holiday weeks in February / March when schools in Zone A are on holiday (See school holiday table by region)
best avoided if you can :
|Year||Christmas /New year
(3 zones, 2 weeks each)
(3 zones, 2 weeks each)
|2019- 2020||From Friday 20th or Saturday 21st December
to Sunday 5th January 2020 inclusive
|8th February - 8th March 2020||4th April to 3rd May 2020|