A shady spa village set in a narrow, steep-sided valley. It's the second oldest ski resort in France and shares with La Mongie, one of the biggest ski areas in the Pyrenees - 100km of pistes collectively known as the Domaine Tourmalet.
The village is quiet, with one main street, a newish chalet and a few basic hotels. The lift base is at Tournaboup, 4km up the valley and served by ski bus, though with good conditions you can ski back to the village. The slopes span widely across four major sectors, with contrasting treelined runs above Barèges and open bowl skiing towards La Mongie. The whole area is best suited to intermediates, but there are some gentle greens for novices and decent unexploited off-piste. There are several interesting descents from the Pic du Midi observatory cable car, which has opened to off-piste skiers. The Pyrenees are serious mountains; they are also attractively French and while it is true that the resorts can't compete in terms of size of ski area with the mega-resorts of the Three Valleys or Paradiski, they have considerable attractions - price, Gallic charm and fewer crowds to name three.