Overview from chair lift of ski terrain at Peyragudes

Peyragudes

French Pyrenees

Already familiar to millions of James Bond fans worldwide as the location for the opening sequence of Tomorrow Never Dies, Peyragudes sits high above the Vallée du Louron in the central French Pyrenees.

Although a long drive from Channel ports, access is simple from Pau and Toulouse airports or Tarbes TGV rail links, and the area is loved by French families and Spanish skiers from across the nearby border.

Young skier beside piste map sign.

The Ski Area

Peyragudes was created in 1988 by combining the terrain of two ski villages on opposite sides of one substantial mountain and an administrative frontier – Peyresourde is in the Hautes-Pyrénées, while Les Agudes is in neighbouring Haute-Garonne.
For skiers the most obvious advantages of the liaison include a choice of landscapes to add variety to days on the slopes, along with the ability to find the best snow conditions in both mornings and afternoons. Ski-school areas are ultra-accessible, and while green-graded terrain looks relatively limited, blues are often exceptionally wide and encouraging. Those confident on reds have some long runs, including (snow-cover permitting) the Vallée Blanche, which makes it possible to ski a combined vertical drop of almost 1000m.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1600m - 2400m
Peyragudes
Pistes Total:
60 km
5 Green
20 Blue
20 Red
4 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 17
2 Magic Carpets
5 Draglifts
9 Chairlifts

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Skiers with beginner area and apartment buildings

The Ski Village

Both ski villages are sited at 1600m altitude. Les Agudes was purpose-built during the 1960s, while Peyresourde is much more recent and still developing. Apartment accommodation on this side is either on or around the front-de-neige, or a little further away at Balestas, which is served by free shuttle-buses. The proximity of the Franco-Spanish border makes this a very popular choice for skiers from Spain, adding a cosmopolitan vibe and obliging restaurants to extend their lunchtime and evening opening hours.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Skier family leaving top station of chair lift

Why go skiing in Peyragudes ?

Budget-conscious skiers who nevertheless value the quality of their accommodation and skiing experience. Peyragudes may be so far relatively little-known, but it combines great skiing with a friendly, welcoming attitude to visitors. The studied attention to the visitor experience extends to beginner facilities – the ski-school area in Peyresourde couldn’t be more accessible. Intermediates and more experienced skiers have some bracing steeps to enjoy, and have French, Spanish and just a few British skiers for company. Finally, the geographical location is among the most dramatic in the Pyrenees, with genuinely panoramic mountain scenery.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Fun resort with dedicated park and cruising pistes.
1 Snowparks
1 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Accessible from Peyrasourdes, trails are groomed but not grooved - skating style only.
15km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

Handiski...

  • Access to reserved parking at the front de neige on presentation of disability documentation. Reserved spaces available in lower parking area.
  • Adapted toilets in the resort centres Peyresourde and Agudes, and in the Snowpark chalet.
  • Easy access to the slopes. Accessible chairlifts.
  • Normal tariff for a disabled skier, free lift pass for an essential companion.
  • Dual & Uniski chairs available to rent at Skimium, Peyrasourde.
  • ESF specialist instructors and equipment.
  • Peyragudes has also suporting Solène Jambaqué since she started skiing. She is a seven time Olympic Paralympic medallist.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Solid value, to ski and to stay.
  • Well-planned village developments.
  • Still relatively undiscovered.
  • Amazing mountain scenery.
  • Friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
  • Newly-improved road access.
  • High-speed lifts serve main areas.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • It’s a long drive from the UK.
  • Snowfalls don’t always deliver.
  • Terrain is relatively compact.
  • Lower section of Epic Vallée Blanche run relies on good snow cover.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • There are discounted deals for lift-pass holders at the Balnéa thermal spa complex down in the valley.

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Practical Information

Seen, tried and tested.Les Jardins de Balnéa

Residence Lagrange Prestige
65510 Loudenvielle

Traditionally-styled development on the edge of the Balnéa gardens in the centre of this valley village with access to ski stations, a lake and a myriad of other activities, not least the expanding Balnéa spa centre.
The well-designed two-storey buildings have 69 well-appointed and equipped apartments. We stayed in a duplex apartment sleeping up to 9/10 people and with valley views, although there is a wide range of apartments sleeping up to 4, 6 or 8 people.
The apartments are fitted and furnished to a high standard of comfort and convenience. The decor is modern and stylish, using solid dark wood and neutral colours. They all have a fully-equipped kitchenette with microwave, ceramic hob, dishwasher, flat screen TV and a balcony or terrace.
WiFi access is available in the main reception area (payable). You can take an apartment on a hotel basis if you wish.
It's just 20 minutes drive to Peyragudes (Peyresourde side), which has ample parking for day visitors and quick access to the slopes.


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Seen, tried and tested.Balnéa

Les Jardins de Balnéa
65510 Loudenvielle
Tel: 0 891 70 19 19 (0.23€ TTC/min)

Balnea spa, Val de Louron

Balnéa is a welcoming and accessible thermal spa centre. The pools are fed by naturally warm waters which are drawn from their source 5kms away. The main pool (Espace Amerindién) at 33°C is open to families and is a fun environment whose features include bubble beds, jets and showers, and Jacuzzis. The Espace Romain (open to children over 12 yrs) has a quiet lagoon and a series of progressively hotter pools and a cold plunge pool.
For relaxation and massage, the Tibetan area provides a calm escape, with treatments for adults.
The on-site restaurant serves healthy dishes using local produce and is situated on the first floor, with valley views.
Buy a one-day ski pass and get 2 hours access to Balnéa with Balnéaltitude


Seen, tried and tested.Les Cîmes

Route du Col du Peyrasourde
65240 Estarvielle
Tel: +33 (0)5 62 99 67 21

Former coaching inn with fabulous views over the Loudon valley. Entirely run by the hotel owners Véronique and Frédéric, who are both fluent English speakers and have travelled widely, amassing a fascinating display of images and mementoes from around the world. They specialise in the regional dish Garbure – a thick and hearty vegetable soup served with duck confit. You need a large appetite for their other mountain specialities of raclette (€18, vegetarian on request) or fondue (€16, must be booked in advance) followed by one of their delicious desserts. The 3-course menus are good value, from €18 (or €15 at lunchtime). There's also simple, comfortable accommodation in themed rooms inspired by the owners' travels (B&B €52 / 2 persons).


Diners on terrace, front de neige, Peyragudes

Seen, tried and tested.Le Cabanou

Restaurant d'Altitude
Peyragudes
Tel: +33(0)5 62 39 26 02

Le Cabanou mountain bar restaurant, Peyragudes

Self service restaurant (open 1100 - 1500) and bar (open 0900 - 1700) situated at the heart of the pistes at 2000m altitude with a large terrace and a cosy interior with woodburning stoves and very friendly atmosphere. You can order anything from a sandwich or crêpe to a gourmet regional dish, and there's a daily chef's special.
It's party atmosphere in the evenings, when diners travel to Le Cabanou on skidoo from the front de neige. Enjoy champagne and canapés followed by a meal with wine and music late into the night. It's an exceptional night to remember for an all-inclusive €70 per adult/€35 children under 12 yrs, advance bookings essential.


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Getting there

By car
From Paris direction, take the A20 to Toulouse, then the A64 until Lannemezan (exit 16) and follow the D929 to Arreau. Here, turn onto the D618 Col de Peyrasourde and follow the signs for Peyragudes.

By air
Look out for flights to Lourdes-Tarbes airport (80km).
You can also fly into Pau (110km) which has a greater choice of flights or Toulouse-Blagnac (160km) is a third possibility.
Most visitors hire a car to access the ski resort.
There's an altiport, should you have your own light aircraft.

By train
Take the Eurostar to Paris then Paris - Tarbes TGV
( journey time just under 6 hours). Hire your vehicle in advance and pick up at the station. There are bus links from local stations Lannemezan (50km) and Luchon (17km) during school holidays.

Book your train travel from Paris with OUI.sncf

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Insight: Peyragudes

Wide view of young skiers gathered for ski lessons at Peyragudes, French Pyrenees

Insight: Peyragudes

Peyragudes has been in our sights for some time, but until now we haven’t managed to see and ski it for ourselves. Even so, it’s clear from the reports of sustained heavy investment in visitor accommodation and state-of-the-art high-speed chairlifts that this is a ski area with attitude. Added to which, impressive-looking webcam images have long intrigued us. So when the opportunity finally arrives to drive back down to the Hautes-Pyrénées we don’t need any encouragement, particularly since the A65 autoroute has shaved almost an hour off the previously tedious journey beyond Bordeaux.

…a big-mountain feel to the ski area falling away below while the six-seater Cap de Pales chairlift powers us smoothly back up to the top of the mountain in single haul.
6 seater chairlift, Peyragudes
A relaxed moment at the junction of several pistes above Les Agudes.

The right approach…

The new road is an impressive model of efficiency, but scenery-wise it’s the onward run to our destination via the more conventionally-beautiful Vallée du Louron which will haunt us. The sheltered spot has a huge, man-made lake and recently acquired a traditionally-styled tourism village overlooking landscaped parkland, the setting for the more contemporary Balnéa spa centre. From the village we follow the signs up the nearby mountainside towards the Col de Peyresourde. The final approach road was purpose-built to provide easy access to the ski village, whose bright, cheerful skyline soon comes into view.
Minutes later, after parking the car, unpacking our skis and changing into our ski gear, we take one of the pedestrian lifts which simplify getting from car park level up to the front-de-neige. From here the ski lifts are just metres away, our choice being the Sérias high-speed 6-seater chairlift, which takes skiers direct to the Col de la Flamme (1967m), for a choice of blue and red-graded runs either back down to Peyresourde or – our choice – over into the Agudes sector. As we plan to head still higher our first run is a short one, and we soon join the Flamme fixed chairlift for a ride up to 2085m.

Once off the lift we ski the top section of the blue-graded Val des Agudes piste before peeling off onto the steeper (red) detour of Chevriers. The snow quality has benefited from the sector’s early morning sunlight, and our bracing plunge down to the liaison with the gentler Passe Bleue piste (which in turn feeds back onto Val des Agudes) is a lot of fun. Soon the outline of Les Agudes appears below us, growing larger until we reach the departure point for no fewer than five ski-lifts. It’s surprisingly quiet over here, and the architectural style of the purpose-built ski-village speaks of an earlier period than that of its still-youthful counterpart on the other side of the mountain. But Agudes shares the same doorstep skiing concept, and as a bonus catches the morning sun.

Peyragudes snowpark and restaurant terrace
Skiers on piste, Peyragudes

Steeper, but also wider…

Terrain-wise, things are also noticeably steeper over here, with a big-mountain feel to the ski area falling away below while the six-seater Cap de Pales chairlift powers us smoothly back up to the top of the mountain in single haul. At the top we ski off the lift to join the other skiers who have converged on the 2233m Belvédère. The meeting-point for three chairlifts has something of a party atmosphere today, as our visit coincides with Spanish national holidays, boosting skier numbers and ramping up the energy levels several notches. Fortunately the present gathering of skiers is clearly about to spread out in several different directions, so the nearby pistes look set to remain unpressured. Sure enough, we have the blue-graded Gourgs Blancs cruise virtually to ourselves on the run over to the exit-point for the red-graded Vallée Blanche. Sadly, large barriers inform us that it’s closed until the next snowfall tops things up lower down, so we continue on the gentle, open blue run down to the base of our next lift. The Serre Doumenge six-seater replaced two previous chairlifts, and its environmental credentials include small on-chair bins for cigarette butts and other debris (which self-empty discretely as they approach the lower station), helping keep the mountains cleaner.

Aiming high in Peyragudes

At the top are both black and red-graded runs, plus the Traverse des Isards, a top-of-the-world gateway to a long blue cruise all the way back down to Peyresourde village. The first section is Aigles, a wide, gently-curving run which crosses Rhododendrons, a red-graded piste which we now follow as it threads its way between a snowpark and a boardercross run to terminate conveniently at Le Cabanou mountain restaurant/bar. We’ve already covered some distance, so it’s a welcome sight. Forsaking the currently-empty panoramic sun-terrace, we head inside and check the piste-map while recharging energy levels with vins-chauds. When we finally emerge we skate our way over to pick up the Combe de Magnéras for a gentle blue cruise down towards Peyresourde.

Things are looking a little livelier now on the front-de-neige as we head for the base of the Privilège chairlift. The powerful four-seater hauls us back up to Belvédère in under seven minutes (a journey which previously required no fewer than four fixed-chairlift rides). Not surprisingly, travelling at around 5m/sec adds a degree of wind-chill, softened today by the still sun hanging in a near-cloudless sky, as it so often does here. The en-route overviews of the mountain include freestylers in the snow-park we’d passed earlier, and the first hungry skiers taking their places on the snack bar sun-terrace.

Last run before lunch

Not surprisingly, by the time we reach the top of the lift we’re also feeling more than ready for a lunch break, so from Belvédère we take the Cap de Pales red piste and pick up the blue-graded Combe de la Flamme for another excursion into the Agudes sector. This time it’s a relatively brief one and we only ski the upper terrain – after reaching the base of the Flamme chairlift the run then veers sharply left, passing over the Col to re-enter the Peyresourde side. From here there’s a choice of red and blue return runs back to the village, our route finally taking us beside the ski-school area, where novices are making their first turns and riding the magic-carpet lift for further gentle runs.

It’s the perfect calm and secure starting-point for tomorrows skiers, who as yet have no idea of just what lies in store for them as a reward for their efforts. They won’t have long to wait, and when their very first big lift-ride finally reveals just what lies further up the mountain right here in Peyragudes, they’re going to be amazed. Just like us, in fact. MountainPassions heart icon