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Skiing in the French Pyrenees was the perfect winter getaway

I just returned from enjoying three wonderful days skiing in the French Pyrenees with my brother and it was so refreshing! After four years since the last time I skied, I’m glad to report that I survived and that I also had lots of fun and spent some quality time. We visited three ski stations in three days with my Dad’s campervan. Follow our adventure!

Skiing with my brother in La Mongie
Skiing with my brother in La Mongie

Since we live right on the border with France, it takes barely two to three hours to drive from Irún (Spain) to the French Pyrenees. During our three-day skiing itinerary, we visited three locations: La Pierre St Martin, Gourette and Barèges – La Mongie. Please note that, given the COVID-19 restrictions at the time of writing, masks and COVID-passes were mandatory in French ski stations. However, we were only asked for them at La Mongie.

The beauty of driving with our own van was that we moved from one ski station to the other once we were done for the day. We parked for free right next to the pistes and had breakfast and dinner in the campervan, while we brought our sandwiches and snacks to the ski slopes. What else can you ask for?

Day 1 – La Pierre St Martin

Ready to go on the ski trip!
Ready to go on the ski trip!

We left early in the morning and we arrived to our first destination 2h30 later, around 11h. La Pierre St Martin is a small ski station located near Arette, in the heart of the Béarn area. Featuring 27 ski slopes and 14 lifts between 1500 and 2200 meters of altitude, it is a great stop for the whole family. Since we visited on a Monday, there were very few people, which was perfect for making the most out of our day and resuming my ski (beginner) practice. In the evening, after the ski station closed in La Pierre St Martin, we headed to Gourette to spend the night there so we would be ready to ski first thing the next morning.

Snow views in La Pierre St Martin
Snow views in La Pierre St Martin
DETAILS FOR LA PIERRE ST MARTIN
Ski station website
Forfaits (ski passes)
Equipment rental: I rented my gear (skis, helmet, boots and poles) at the Intersport store right by the pistes for 28.5€.
Ski slopes: I liked that the pistes were pretty wide for the most part. We skied on the green, blue and red pistes. My all-time favorites were the blue slopes Boulevard des Pyrénées (as the main avenue in the nearby city of Pau) and Boulevard des Myrtilles as well as ISF (red piste).
What to see around La Pierre St Martin: Arette
Stone houses by the river
Stone houses by the river in Lesaka (Navarra)

The French Pyrenees are nestled in between France and Spain. Check out my posts about the Spanish neighboring region of Navarra!

Day 2 – Gourette

After our first night sleeping in the van in Gourette parked next to a waterfall, we enjoyed our second day of skiing. The ski resort in Gourette is slightly bigger than the one in La Pierre St Martin. It includes 39 ski slopes and 11 lifts. The fun thing is that I had been to Gourette on a ski school trip when I was 8 years or so, but I barely remembered the station. 🙂

Snowcapped mountains in Gourette
Snowcapped mountains in Gourette
Happy skier
Happy skier
DETAILS FOR GOURETTE
Ski station website
Forfaits (ski passes)
Equipment rental: I rented my gear (skis, helmet, boots and poles) at the Intersport store right by the pistes for 19.6€.
Ski slopes: I liked that the pistes were pretty wide for the most part although quite steep and icy (especially a red slope called Les Crététs). We skied on the green, blue and red pistes. My favorites were the blue slope Les Rhododendrons and the red piste Cotch.
What to see around Gourette: Eaux-Bonnes, Oloron-Sainte-Marie 
Skiing in La Clusaz (France)
Skiing in La Clusaz (France)

Want to check out my other ski trips in France, Switzerland or the USA? Read all my related posts below:

Day 3 – Grand Tourmalet Barèges – La Mongie

This ski resort is the biggest of the three mentioned in this post and the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees. Le Grand Tourmalet encompasses two villages: Barèges and La Mongie. The name of this station might sound familiar to you for two reasons: because of the famous Tour de France cycling competition or because French President Emmanuel Macron comes here to ski in the winter season. This vast ski resort features 57 slopes and 27 lifts.

The station in La Mongie includes Col du Tourmalet, a popular spot during the Tour de France
The station in La Mongie includes Col du Tourmalet, a popular spot during the Tour de France
DETAILS FOR GRAND TOURMALET BAREGES-LA MONGIE
Ski station website
Forfaits (ski passes)
Equipment rental: I rented my gear (skis, helmet, boots and poles) at the Intersport store right by the pistes for 20€.
Ski slopes: I liked that the pistes were pretty wide for the most part and that there were plenty of them to choose from. We skied on the green, blue and red pistes. My favorites were the blue slopes Sapins and 4 Termes, although we got caught in the middle of the fog and skiing turned quite challenging.
What to see around La Mongie: Bagnères-de-Bigorre (lovely historic houses and buildings, Café L’endroit and Jardin des Vignaux), Lourdes (pilgrimage destination), Tarbes, Pau
COVID note: this is the only station where they asked for our COVID passport.
Clouds in between the mountains in La Mongie ski resort
Clouds in between the mountains in La Mongie ski resort
The views in La Mongie are breathtaking
The views in La Mongie are simply breathtaking

My packing list for ski trips

Whenever I go on a ski trip, I pack these items. I hope these recommendations are useful for you too!

  • Ski clothes
  • Backpack: great for carrying your water bottle, snacks, sunscreen and so on.
  • Food and snacks
  • First-aid kit: vaseline, paracetamol, ointment for blows
  • Entertainment: books, playing cards

Travel and cost breakout

In the map below, you can find all the locations in the French side of the Pyrenees mentioned throughout this post. Save it for later!

Regarding the costs, the trip came to a reasonable price since we used my Dad’s new campervan. That meant we didn’t have to pay for accommodation (just for fuel, tolls and the forfaits, in addition to the ski gear location) or food (we brought our own and had breakfast and dinner inside, while we took lunch breaks in the middle of the ski slopes).

For parking purposes, you might want to check the app Park4night to easily locate the spots where you can park. However, we parked directly next to the ski slopes in all three ski stations without a problem. Also good to know is that, in all three ski resorts mentioned in this post, you’ll find free toilets right next to the pistes.

Barèges - La Mongie is the biggest ski resort in the French Pyrenees
Barèges – La Mongie is the biggest ski resort in the French Pyrenees

I trust you enjoyed this post about skiing in the French Pyrenees. Do you like skiing? What’s your favorite activity during the winter time? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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