Cauterets Ski Resort
Cauterets is a relaxing, centuries-old spa town in the French Pyrenees which benefits from excellent snow coverage and which proves that the Pyrenees offer a great alternative to the Alps.
The resort is easy to reach, and its small downhill ski area suits a short break. The skiing takes place in a high, open and treeless bowl, the Cirque du Lys, reached by a long gondola from town (you have to ride it down as well as up). The 36km of varied slopes radiate around the bowl, between 1730m and 2415m. There is parking up at Le Courbet (1360m), from where a short gondola departs for the slopes. The area just above the gondola top station is ideal for children and beginners and there are some gentle blue runs for progression too. Generally the rest of the pistes suit intermediates and there is a ski park for those wanting to try something different. Cauterets' jewel is its 36.5km of cross-country, a short bus ride from town at Pont d'Espagne near the Spanish border. It's an incredibly picturesque area, set amid beautiful scenery and waterfalls. There are also 6km of snowshoe and walking trails. The Cauterets ski area, while usually much quieter than the major ski areas in the Alps, does get busy at weekends, as does the main restaurant - a self-service.
The town itself is made up of beautiful, well-preserved buildings from the 19th century. The thermal spas are a popular attraction for visitors. Furthermore there is a wide choice of hotels and plenty of other amenities in the town such as an outdoor and indoor pool, rock climbing, an ice rink and a cinema. The town's position at the head of a wide, sunny valley means traffic is rarely a problem, despite its appeal as a large year-round tourist destination.
For further information visit the Cauterets website.