-Affordable ski holidays with 40 resorts to choose from
-Fantastic aprés scenes, from family-friendly to all-night partying
-Excellent snowfall lending the pistes fantastic skiing
France is a country of regions and of contrasts. That applies to its skiing as much as it does to its cuisine or culture. So don't just file the Pyrenees under 'mountains' and expect an identical out-of-the-box Alpine experience above the snow line.
The Pyrenees separate France from Spain, in the far south-west of France. The border actually runs through the mountains and there are many ski resorts in both the French and Spanish Pyrenees. All of the 40 or so Pyrenean ski stations attract both Spanish and French winter sports fans and most people are happy hopping between languages.
The resorts are less well established than the most famous Alpine resorts. There's no surprise there, the Alps is where modern winter sports were born. But the Pyrenees has no reason to feel inferior to its counterpart to the east when it comes to the quality and quantity of its snow or its slopes, and its oldest resorts date back to the 1930s.
The tops of the Pyrenees reach to 3,404 metres at Aneto, which is in Spain. But there are also high peaks in France, including the beautiful Pic du Midi at 2,877 metres. Some years, Pyrenean resorts are world-beaters for snow cover.
Resorts tend to be modern, purpose-built places and there has usually been good investment in snow machines to help out when nature doesn't quite do its job. While the skiing industry may have colonized the Alps first, the Pyrenees has a history of thermal and hydro treatments dating back to Roman times and beyond and many ski stations have neighbouring spa towns that now provide exclusive and luxurious wellness facilities.
This lack of development means that the Pyrenees offer a more natural experience than the Alps. You won't find the same levels of nightlife and shopping here but you will find a distinctive local mountain cuisine and some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe with plenty of wildlife for the sharp-eyed to spot, not to mention some truly cracking skiing. With less demand, prices tend to be much better, and as word gets out resorts are modernising to offer the sort of facilities, extras and family accommodation that the modern traveler demands.