Seeing that amazing skiing was forecast in the Pyrenees, I booked 5 days before flying as part of a last-minute package through Neilson. I’m not a particular ski-snob but many are, so when I said where I was going there were many more “ohs” rather than “wows”. But the ski area is really, really good for anyone except those seeking challenging pisted blacks. I stayed in Arinsal, close to the main gondola and whilst it was a good location, the ski area in Arinsal is the least interesting of the three areas that form the Vallnord area. That said, the quality of the overnight piste-preparation here was the best I’ve come across meaning that the three main reds are effortless, flattering and fun. The village is vibrant without being parrrrty but despite what some brochures say I’d say it suits adults much more than families.
The much more extensive and varied Pal ski area is accessed directly from La Massana and if you’re not a purely ski-and-apres-ski holiday then staying here offers a more rounded experience. The way the pistes are set out also makes this a really great base for absolute base for beginners since the wide nursery slope is at the top of the gondola and the easy greens and blues don’t have reds feeding in to them meaning that nervous beginners don’t have people skiing fast past them when they’re learning.
La Massana is also closer to the absolutely fabulous Arcalis ski-area – simply the best one-day skiing area I’ve been to in Europe. Although by no means huge (there are no queues so you’ll ski pretty well everything in 5 hours), the wide variety of terrain and piste meant I’ve never felt so eager to get back to the top to try another run. Only drawback is that if you’re not driving then there are only two (free) buses to and from Arcalis a day so there’s a nervousness joining the big queue home at 5.30pm
Lift-prices aside, Andorra on-slope prices for food and drink are much lower than the Alps and all three ski areas have a great selection of cafes, bars and restaurants.
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