French Pyrenees Skiing Resorts and Destinations

The family-friendly Ax 3 Domaines is up the road from Ax-les-Thermes
The family-friendly Ax 3 Domaines is up the road from Ax-les-Thermes | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Nina Zietman

Senior Commissioning Editor

Did you know that the Pyrenees get more snow on average each winter than the Alps? Yes, really. While the Alps are famed for their expansive ski areas and chi-chi restaurants, the French Pyrenees are the more affordable, quieter alternative. It’s amazing just how peaceful these slopes are outside of school holidays.

Now, the trick is to pick the mid-Pyrenees ski resorts for the best chance of good snow. It is farther south, so the sun can impact the snow later in the season. However, this region is dotted with unbelievably stunning views and dozens of spa towns with natural thermal baths to ease into at the end of a long day.

1. Barèges

Ski Resort

France Hautes Pyrenees Le Grand Tourmalet the ski resort of Bareges La Mongie Bareges
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Among the prettiest ski resorts in the Pyrenees, Barèges makes up part of the biggest ski area (Domaine du Tourmalet) in this part of France, alongside its slightly less attractive neighbour, La Mongie. Napoleon supposedly brought his troops here to bathe in the healing sulphuric thermal pools, which are still open today. The famous Col du Tourmalet is one of the legs on the Tour de France, which is why it makes such a good ski piste, and advanced skiers can drop into the off-piste from the Pic du Midi.

2. Superbagnères

Ski Resort

Luchon- Superbagneres ski resort. Bagneres de Luchon. Haute-Garonne. Midi Pyrenees. France.
© Gonzalo Azumendi / Alamy Stock Photo

Sitting high in the Pyrenees, topping out at 2,260m (7,415ft), Superbagnères is one of the most snow-sure ski resorts. This quiet spot may be smaller than the resorts in the Alps, but it features panoramic views and varied runs. Dodge the French-school holidays to have the mountain to yourself, and have lunch at the popular La Hount, before taking the gondola back down to Luchon, another beautiful spa town where you can soak those aching limbs.

3. Ax 3 Domaines

Ski Resort

Known for its friendly vibe, Ax 3 Domaines is a favourite weekend ski break, as it’s less than two hours from Toulouse. Unpretentious, uncrowded and unspoilt, it’s a perfect spot for family skiing without a huge price tag. If you haven’t had enough Pyrenees thermal baths, the ancient village of Ax-les-Thermes, down the road, has three, all with special healing properties.

4. Guzet-Neige

Ski Resort

France, Ariege, Ustou, Guzet Neige ski station
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

If you love tree runs, then Guzet-Neige is the place to go. Nestled in a pine forest, it has 40km (25mi) of runs to carve down, with 1,000m (3,218ft) of vertical descent. The village has stayed quaint, thanks to planning regulations that only allow small chalets to be built. After all, small is beautiful. If you find yourself here early in the season, you can go bungee jumping from Napoleon Bridge, the biggest in southwest France.

5. Font Romeu

Ski Resort

France Pyrenees Orientales ski resort of Font Romeu Pyrenees 2000 Pyrenees 2000
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Green-run lovers, Font Romeu is the ski resort for you, with nearly half of its runs falling into this category. Park skiers should make their way over to Roc de la Calme to whiz down the boardercross and take on the big-air or mini-slopestyle line. Font Romeu is perfectly sized for a long weekend and can act as a gateway to the Pyrénées 2000, with 43km (27mi) of trails. Top tip: Scoff a croissant and chocolat chaud at 11.30am so that you can ski through lunch – the pistes will be empty until 2pm.

6. Saint-Lary-Soulan

Architectural Landmark

For a local-type atmosphere, head to Saint-Lary-Soulan. It has welcoming pistes for beginners and intermediates, and you won’t likely hear another English-speaking voice the whole week. Now, the only downside is the lack of altitude. However, you can solve this by splitting your time between here and nearby Piau-Engaly for maximum snow certainty.

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