Wide view of mountain scenery with skier on piste at Hautacam.

Hautacam

Hautes-Pyrenees, France

A 25km drive south of Lourdes in the Hautes-Pyrenees, a region already familiar to many skiers – most of whom make for nearby Luz Ardiden and Cauterets while remaining blissfully unaware of Hautacam. Its commanding position surrounded by a multitude of peaks means that in a good season it receives copious snowfalls. It is, however, classified as medium-altitude and therefore cannot be regarded as snow-sure. If you're planning a visit, check live webcams before setting off.

Young skier among unspoilt mountain scenery with pine trees

The Ski Area

On the piste-map it might look limited, but the quality of what there is, coupled with the sensational scenery, mean that you can’t help liking this place. The terrain is laid out across two sectors - Cardouet and Naouit - divided by the Col de Tramassel. Naouit is an obvious target for confident skiers, and offers some nice Red-graded descents (plus a Blue) into the tree-line. Getting around means taking drag-lifts, for which your reward is some fine scenic cruising, particularly on Le Belvedère, a Green-graded run which allows even less-confident skiers to enjoy the panoramic views from the highest part of the mountain. Wide pistes and careful grooming complete the package.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1560m - 1800m
Hautacam
Pistes Total:
26 km
5 Green
5 Blue
5 Red
Ski Resort Lifts : 9
1 Magic Carpets
8 Draglifts

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Ornate villa with exotic tree in valley

The Ski Village

You won’t be staying on the mountain, but from a base down in the spa town of Argelès-Gazost you can keep a watchful eye on the mountain which is home to the ski area. The drive up and down again doesn't take too long. It’s a year-round centre for tourism and its elegant assortment of privately constructed villas tells you that this has long been seen as a very desirable location. There’s a good selection of hotel accommodation, and while you might decide to give the casino a miss, the Jardin des Bains has undergone an ambitious redevelopment in response to the recent dramatic rise in popularity of the fun side of thermal spas (in addition to their traditional curative role).

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Family skiers beside drag-lift with wide mountain scenery

Best For

Although clearly a gift for beginners, more capable skiers too will find some entertainment along the way, with sufficiently varied and unpressured terrain to allow them to refine and deploy their technique. If snow conditions are good, then family day-visitors - even those based in other ski areas nearby - will find the experience of skiing somewhere this small and friendly endearingly enjoyable. The mesmerising scenery will please back-to-nature skiers, who won’t bemoan the absence of new-generation high-speed lifts.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery


Cross-Country Skiing


15km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Unbeatable value.
  • Other family activities.
  • Accessible to handicapped skiers.
  • Amazing mountain panoramas.
  • Friendly, informal atmosphere.
  • Easy road access.
  • You won't get lost...

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • It’s a long drive from the UK.
  • Snowfalls don’t always deliver.
  • Terrain is compact.
  • Not one for draglift-phobics.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • If you're planning on spending a week in a nearby resort, make a point of devoting a day to discovering the great skiing here.

Practical Information

Getting there

By car
From the A64 take the Tarbes Est / Lourdes exit. Follow signs for Lourdes then Argelès-Gazost. Hautacam is signed from the town.

By air
Look out for flights to Lourdes-Tarbes airport (23km).
You can also fly into Pau (68km) which has a greater choice of flights.

Book your train travel from Paris with OUI.sncf


Things to do

Mountain Luge

Mountain luge Image ©Hautacam.com

Anyone can join in the fun on the Mountain Luge, winter or summer. Completely safe and accessible to all ages and those with reduced mobility, the luge drops 700m on a twisty, thrilling descent. Cost: 3.50€/1 descent, 14€/5 descents. Free for children under 7 years (must be accompanied).


Where to stay

There's a good choice of hotels in Argelès-Gazost or nearby Lourdes, ideal for a short break or as a base to explore the area. For more information and some great short break offers visit the local Office de Tourisme website.

Argeles-Gazost, colourful building with balconies.

For skiers, Cauterets or Luz Ardiden are not far away. Both resorts offer a good base for a week long ski holiday.

Tried and testedHotel Beau Site

10 rue du Capitaine Digoy
65400 Argelès Gazost
Tel: 05 62 97 08 63

Appealingly traditional hotel with restaurant in the heart of the town and with splendid views over the valley. Secure ski and bike storage, garage (4€) 4mins walk. Prices start at 63€ per night for a double room with breakfast included, half-board from 48.50€ per person.


Insight: Hautacam

Piste with skiers and drag-lift at Hautacam, French Pyrenees

Insight: Hautacam

The name sounds curiously familiar. It certainly will to cycling fans, for it was right here on the ascent of Hautacam that Lance Armstrong scored one of his most celebrated stage victories in the Tour de France. It’s unlikely, though, that he would have had quite the same impression of the setting we’re able to enjoy during our relaxed climb from Argelès-Gazost. As we roll past sleepy farmsteads it occurs to us that this is hardly the typical approach to a ski area but once we hit the snow-line everything changes, apart from a cloudless blue sky. It’s a very fine day for doing just about anything.

The light up here is dazzling, but so far the snow is holding up well and looks well groomed, particularly considering the fact that it’s all natural, since Hautacam as no artificial snowmaking.
Drag-lift, Hautacam
Skier, Cardouet sector, Hautacam

Welcome to Hautacam…

Can you be just too relaxed to ski? It’s a question I never thought I’d be asking myself, but as we park the car and take in our surroundings I’m almost tempted to just sit tight, enjoy the sun and make the most of the laid-back vibe. Plenty of people are already doing just that on the sun terrace of the only restaurant, while they cast a relaxed eye on their more active companions on the pistes.
However, the snow looks just too good to resist, so we unpack our skis, change into our lightest ski gear and head over to a nearby drag-lift, grab a pole and launch onto a leisurely ride up the mountain.

The light up here is dazzling, but so far the snow is holding up well and looks well groomed, particularly considering the fact that it’s all natural, since Hautacam as no artificial snowmaking. When we reach the top of the lift we take a moment to get a feel for our surroundings then head off on a gentle Blue-graded cruise down to the next lift, this time for a haul up to sample La Moulata, a steeper and more wayward Red. Maybe it’s the knowledge that everything is within reach, with no chance of ever taking the wrong lift and getting lost, which makes things feel so relaxed here. Or it could be the fact that most of our fellow skiers are locals who know it inside out. Whatever it is, we’re soon feeling pretty at home here.

The loading area for the Trois Seigneurs draglift, for the return haul from the Cardouet sector, Hautacam.
Hautacam hides its best terrain and best scenery until the end of the draglift hauls.

On top of the mountain…

The relaxed mood doesn’t lessen the impact of the setting, and as we crest the mountain for a while on the long, Green-graded Belvedère we’re almost mesmerised by the grandeur of the mountain views around us. From here the minimal outline of the tiny front-de-neige looks even more so amid the vastness of the valley falling away far beyond it. Our run is much more than a gentle amble, though, for the piste soon makes a smooth 180-degree turn and then begins to take us all the way over into the Naouit sector.

Not that it’s a very long way, exactly, but somehow it feels like a journey of sorts – not least since the scenery undergoes quite a change over here, as we leave behind the valley overviews to which we’ve grown accustomed. Different snow-covered mountains appear in the distance, separated from us by the kind of wild open spaces it would be tempting to expand into (or at least explore on powder skis).

Going up…

This sector of the mountain is also interesting for its steeper terrain, which as a consequence is mostly Red-graded There’s a Blue option too, which in its own way is just as entertaining, as we discover when we ski them all. The setting has a wild, unspoilt beauty, and moving through it on drag-lifts keeps you much more in touch with nature than any chairlift ride.

The return haul back over to where we began in the Cardouet sector is an altogether steeper affair, via the Trois Seigneurs draglift, whose ‘Téléski Difficile’ sign informs us that the gradient exceeds 50%. In practice this only applies to a relatively short section (of around 60%) between the trees and the ridge, after which things ease considerably.

When we reach the top we decide to take the direct route back to the front-de-neige area, on Isaby, a wide, wide Blue just made for carving. Or taking your own time. Like everything here it’s up to you as long as you have fun along the way, ideally with friends or family. We’ve seen skiers of all levels during our brief tour of the mountain, and can well understand why so many local people feel so attached to ‘their’ ski station. MountainPassions heart icon