The Pyrenees An underrated region with decent skiing and boarding at lower prices than the Alps, and villages that remain distinctly French It is certainly true that ski areas in the French Pyrenees can't compete in terms of extent with the mega-resorts of the Alps. But don't dismiss them: they have considerable attractions, including price - hotels and apartments can cost half as much as in the French Alps, and meals and drinks are cheaper. Provided the snow is good and you're not in search of steep mogul fields and wild après-ski, there is a surprising amount of variety packed into some of these smaller areas. The Pyrenees are serious mountains, with dramatic, picturesque scenery, and are worth considering for beginners, intermediates and quiet family holidays at a lower cost. The resorts are attractively French, and many are old mountain villages that double up as spa towns. You'll also find charmless purpose-built satellites. Access has improved in the last few years, with budget airlines now using Toulouse, Pau and Lourdes airports. The locals (including lots of Spanish) like to visit at weekends, so the slopes can get busy then. Queues are rare outside peak holidays though, and a lot of locals do cross-country rather than downhill. British visitors are still relatively few, and English is less widely spoken than in the Alps.

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