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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

WINTER SPORTS

Skiing in the  Pyrénées-Orientales

If yo’re interested in skiing in the Pyrénées-Orientales, the snow usually arrives in earnest around the end of DSC020501November and then it’s all systems go for skiing in department 66. If you are thinking of heading to the Pyreneen resorts here are some factoids which might prove useful. I’m not a skier myself (tore cartilage on my first ever descent of my first and only skiing holiday and had to have two operations on my knee as a result!) so apologies for the lack of personal input on this topic.

1. The main resorts

The main ski resorts in the Pyrénées-Orientales are listed below. Click on each to access their individual websites.

Espace Cambre-D’Aze
Cerdagne-Puigmal 2900
Porté-Puymorens
Font-Romeu
Pyrénées 2000
Puyvalador-Rieutort
Les Angles
Espace Nordique du Capcir
Formiguères
La Quillane

2. Les Neiges Catalanes

Les Neiges Catalanes unites these 10 major skiing stations in the Pyrénées-Orientales and offers one ski pass which can be used in all the resorts. These can be ordered online although the link on the Neiges Catalanes site is not currently working so you will need to use one of the sites listed above.

3. Getting there

Most of the resorts listed above can be easily reached by car from Perpignan in around 90 minutes. The road is fairly good although single lane for much of the way and quite windy.

Le Petit Train Jaune is a scenic way of getting up to the snow. It is the highest railway track in France and the route is stunningly beautiful, if a little treacherous-looking (one of those things we’ve been meaning to do for 9 years but never quite got round to!!). You can get a train from Perpignan station to Villefranche de Conflent for just 1 euro and then change on to Le Petit Train Jaune. For up-to-date timetables, check on the SNCF website.

Bus à 1 euro – the Conseil Général in department 66 subsidises a fabulous bus network. It costs just 1 euro to go anywhere in the P-O which is unbelievable value to get up to the ski resorts. Timetables and information can be found by clicking here.

4. Snow-based alternatives to skiing 

If downhill skiing is not for you, there are many other options to try. Cross country skiing is popular in the region and is a great way to get away from the main pistes and enjoy the stunning Pyreneen scenery. Head to l’Espace Nordique du Capcir which is set up specifically for this, or glide your way round the lakes at Matemale and La Llagonne.

You can snowkite at a number of resorts including Les Angles, La Quillane, and col du Puymorens or why not try dog sledding or snow shoeing. I’m told that Pyrenean Trails are good for guided tours.

And even if you are allergic to activity of any kind, you can still relax and unwind at one of the region’s hot springs which are located at Dorres, Llo or Saint Thomas les Bains.

5. For novices and small children

If you are a novice or have small children who want to try out skiing, I highly recommend La Quillane, which is the only resort I know well. It is perfect for day trips from Perpignan and we have been going since the children were tiny. The resort is tiny too and ideal for kids with just 4 pistes, a mini snow park where you don’t even need to purchase a ski pass and ample space for sledging and just mucking about in the snow. You can drive right up to the foot of the slopes to park. There is a small shop where you can high skis or book lessons plus a child-friendly restaurant at the bottom of the slopes which is perfect for a hearty family meal or crèpes for goûter.

Louise Sayers
France SOS, making your life in France easier