Cauterets is good for a short break; it's a relaxing old town, easy to reach, and its small downhill ski area suits a couple of days - try the cross-country too. Many of Cauterets' buildings are well-preserved examples from the 19th century, and the thermal spas are a popular attraction for visitors. There is a wide choice of hotels. 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. 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. There is parking up at Le Courbet (1360m), from where a short gondola departs for the slopes. The 36km of varied slopes radiate around the bowl, between 1730m and 2415m. The area just above the gondola top station is ideal for children and beginners; there are some gentle blue runs for progression too. But the area does get busy at weekends, as does the main restaurant - a self-service. The Oakley terrain park has an O-Rail and Stairset, unique in Europe. Cauterets' jewel, though, is its 36.5km of cross-country, a short bus ride from town at Pont d'Espagne near the Spanish border. It's one of the best areas we've seen, set amid beautiful scenery and waterfalls. There are also 6km of snowshoe and walking trails.
Charming, old spa town
Serious cross-country trails
Downhill slopes very limited
Long gondola ride to/from slopes