The principality of Andorra is a small mountainous country nestled between northern Spain and southern France. Andorra's capital city, Andorra la Vella, is a tax free, duty free shopping Mecca. Skiers who visit this out of the way country get a double bonusskiing and shopping bargains. Although small and most certainly tucked away, Andorra has a literacy rate of 100% with many of its citizens fluent in four languages: the national language of Catalan, Spanish, French, and English.
Shopping is the main attraction, fueled by many, many duty free, tax free shops with a variety of inventory. Dollar for dollar you'll get your money's worth the accommodations, food, drink, lifts, cost of gas (in Europe) offer skiers the best value in the western ski world. A super-sized discount department store greets visitors as they enter the country and beckons them to visit as they depart.
There are over 50 ski resorts throughout the mountain range of the Pyrénées that separate Spain from France with Andorra's high altitude, snow-sure and sunny slopes resting comfortably above and between its larger neighbors. The Pyrénées listing contains all of the Andorran resorts but is limited to three in Spain and three in France.
You've skied the east and west USA resorts and taken several turns at Europe's best and are now seeking something different. Look no further than Andorra.
Andorra is geared to the skier looking for something different. It is populated in winter by mainly Spanish, French and British skiers, who don't seem to mind noise, constant traffic jams, eating late in the evening and loud crowded bars. Come with a laid back attitude that permits you to enjoy and view a different culture and a different skiing experience.
The large ski complex of Grandvalira is the near the village of Pas de las Casa, just below the French border. It consists of ski sectors with distinct personalities (see the Grandvalira page). The Ski Andorra Association equally promotes Vallnord, farther to the west. It has three sectors: Arinsal, Arcalis and Pal.
Andorra's overall ski terrain leans toward the intermediate skier. While there is off-slope skiing possibilities, skiers looking for an abundance of double black diamond runs will be disappointed. To their credit, all five areas have either installed new high-speed lifts or expanded their skiing terrain. Both ski complexes are located within a spit of each other,and can be skied with one pass available through the tourist office.
A visit to Andorra is no longer the visit back in time it once was, but the Romanesque churches, stone chalets, ancient artifacts and an isolated mountain country of beauty and charm should make it a top priority on every skier's to-do list.
Spain's largest resort of Baqueira-Beret is also about a three-hour drive from Barcelona through lovely country-side, but also over mountainous roads. Note: Be prepared for witner driving to these resorts. A good overview for Baqueira-Beret may be read in two articles below the resort in the Spanish section.
Also, included in this section is a resort many consider Spain's finest. The Sierra Nevada Resort is the southernmost ski area on the Iberian Peninsula. The Sierra Nevada mountain range is approximately 55 miles long with peaks over 11,000 feet. The ski resort base is at 7,000 feet and its top sits at 11,382 feet. The late season sun can crisp you quickly. And, the drive up starts at 2,200 feet and a short time later you may be gasping for breath. So be careful on both counts. At its base some 30 miles distant is a city not to be missedGranada. This Moorish city's most famous attraction is the Alhambra Palace and Gardens.
The three resorts of the French Pyrénées included in this section: Luz Ardiden, Saint Lary Soulan and Les Angles act as a sample representation of the region's twelve resorts. There are others. such as, Bareges and La Mongie that are also popular.
Bring your skis, a good tour-book and some walking shoes for shopping and we guarantee this will be a great adventure.
This region uses the euro as its currency.
For more information contact:
TOURIST OFFICE OF SPAIN
666 5th Avenue, 35th Floor
New York, NY 10103
6100 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 200
Miami, FL 33126