Skiers are getting excited as the season’s first snow dumps fall across Europe. If you’re in the market for a ski home, remember it’s not all about the Alps. Here we give a taste of what the Pyrenees have to offer.

Ski homes don’t have to be in the middle of a large, lively resort that’s linked to a ski area the size of a small country. A fair few of us prefer a calmer, more traditional setting, where the skiing is as much about the views as the length of the runs – cue the Pyrenees!

These three Pyrenean destinations give a taste of what’s waiting for the more leisurely skier, who craves a bit of local character. Remember, wherever you consider a ski home, however, you need to think about altitude, length of ski season and access from the UK, including flights and transfers.

Views from the balcony in Baqueira

Baqueira-Beret, Spain
Nestling in the picturesque Aran Valley, Baqueira-Beret is considered the jewel in the crown of Spanish ski resorts – little wonder Spain’s royal family has a pad there. With 151 kilometres of groomed runs, its centre is at 1,500 metres with its highest lift reaching 2,516 metres. As a bonus for experienced skiers, Baqueira is also a paradise for anyone who likes to venture off-piste or do a spot of heli-skiing.

While the main hub of Baqueira isn’t chocolate box pretty, the string of medieval villages linked to the resort by a subsidised bus service are real gems. Being in the north-west corner of Catalonia near the French border makes flying to Toulouse – and having just a two-hour transfer – preferable to touching down in Barcelona, four hours away.

Panoramic breakfasts in Saint-Lary

Saint-Lary, France
Oozing authentic mountain charm, the low-rise village of Saint-Lary, with its shops selling local cheese and ham set amongst cosy hotels and restaurants, is the gateway for three ski stations/areas – Pla d’Adet (1,700m), Espiaube (1,900m) and Vallon Portet (2,400m).

The adjoining medieval villages of Soulan, Vignec and Tramezaigues are especially pretty and epitomise Pyrenean tradition. On the edge of the Pyrenees National Park, the St-Lary ski area’s 55 pistes provide around 100 kilometres of skiing. Transfer to St-Lary from Toulouse is just under two hours. Quicker options could be to fly to Pau and Lourdes, depending on flight availability.

Cosy home in Ax-les-Thermes

Ax-les-Thermes, France
Located on a river just north of Andorra, pretty Ax-les-Thermes is a town that grew up around its hot thermal springs. What better way to relax after a day on the slopes than an hour or two in one of its natural spas?

The ski resort, called Ax-3, is actually a few kilometres above the town and is divided into three ski areas, namely Bonascre (the lowest of the resorts at 1400m), Campels (1,800m) and Saquet (2,100m). Combined, these offer 70  kilometres of pistes. Toulouse is a 90-minute transfer, but Ax-les-Thermes’ station makes the train an option too.

Written by Overseas Guides Company.

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