Cirque du Lys, French Pyrenees
Access is relatively speedy from Pau and Toulouse airports (or Lourdes TGV for rail travellers) and the village is also a long-established spa destination with much retro charm.
There’s plenty of accommodation in the town, which boasts high-speed gondola access to the ski terrain. Further up the valley is Pont d’Espagne, with downhill and cross-country skiing, walking, etc., in beautiful natural surroundings.
The Ski Area
- Excellent snow record.
- Well-planned selection of groomed pistes.
The family ski station of Cauterets is one of the most popular in the French Pyrénées. Its well-planned selection of groomed pistes is served by an efficient lift system and will appeal to recreational skiers looking for a relaxed (but not too relaxed) and uncomplicated experience. Although slightly limited in overall size, it has safe débutante and children’s areas. The rest is Blue- and Red-graded scenic cruising, with a few steeper Blacks. Cauterets has had an excellent snow record over the past few years. Finally, the presence nearby of Luz Ardiden expands the possibilities for anyone looking for more terrain and a worthwhile change of scenery.
The beautiful, unspoilt Pont d’Espagne area offers a couple more downhill pistes, and is superb for cross-country skiers. It’s also the perfect setting for easy snow-shoe walks.
Pistes Total: 36 km
2 Magic Carpets
The Ski Village
Cauterets’ pleasant town centre has plenty of shops and cafés plus welcoming spa and wellbeing facilities to relax aching muscles. Apparently the old spa town has more visitor beds than any other tourist town in France - around 25,000, in fact. So there should be something for everyone, from traditional family hotels to renovated apartments. Evenings, while hardly riotous, are nevertheless engagingly convivial.
See Practical Information below for accommodation suggestions.
Why go skiing in Cauterets ?
Families looking for good value skiing. The gondola from the town centre is really convenient and the beginner terrain is great for children. Intermediates will increase their confidence on the well groomed slopes. Experienced skiers, though, will find it limiting after a few days but could head over to nearby Luz Ardiden for a stimulating change of scene.
36.5km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails
- Drop-off point just outside the Lys gondola loading area (adpated toilets) and ticket office. No adapted parking spaces.
- Direct access to the slopes from the Lys gondola. Grand Barbat and Crêtes chairlifts are accessible plus the beginners magic-carpet.
- Covered area, ESF, adapted toilets and snack bar all accessible, lift to restaurant and picnic room on first floor.
- Ski pass 100% free for a disabled skier (proof required) and 50% for a companion.
- Qualified specialist instructors and equipment at ESF and ESI.
- Equipment available for hire at the 'Boule de Neige' in Luz-St-Sauveur, tel: +33(0)5 92 94 17 78
- See Haute Pyrénées website for further details.
- Good value skiing and dining.
- Interesting, historic town.
- Plenty of French ambiance.
- Amazing mountain scenery.
- Friendly, relaxed vibe.
- Thermal spa centre Les Bains du Rocher.
- Snow often abundant.
- Modern, high-speed gondola lift.
- No ski-in, ski-out accommodation.
- Still a few drag-lifts.
- Not one for mileage-seekers.
- Link to Luz Ardiden, please...
- Visit Pont d’Espagne (7km from Cauterets) for cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, plus a few downhill runs.
- There’s a whole lot more skiing on offer nearby in Luz Ardiden, so make a point of getting to know it while you’re here.
We've stayed at the conveniently located Hotel le Lion d'Or a couple of times and would highly recommend it (see review below). There are plenty of accommodation options in Cauterets including apartments and centrally located hotels, especially good for non-skiers who want to be close to the thermal spa.
Logis de France **
12 rue Richelieu & 1 Ave Dr. Domer, 65110 Cauterets
+33(0)5 62 92 52 87
Lovely family-run hotel just minutes from the Lys gondola. The hotel is noted for its charm and character and the recently renovated rooms have added extra comfort and style. We opted for half-board and enjoyed evening meals with plentiful home-cooked food. While serving an apéritif or after-dinner coffee at the hotel bar, the owners’ son was happy to offer advice about where to find the best skiing. A qualified ski instructor, his knowledge of the surrounding area proved invaluable.