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November 6, 2018 / Comments (0)

Skiing in the French Pyrenees – Wandering in Europe

Skiing in the French Pyrenees

Amongst my many travel tales and journeys, the experience of skiing at high altitudes at different slopes around the world has been the most visceral of my experiences. Letting gravity pull you while you swerve and maneuver between trees, trying your hand at whatever acrobatic stunts you can pull off, and then retreating to your ski resort for a warm cup of hot chocolate and a quiet evening  ̶  nothing compares to this experience.

Well, this narrative is my telling of the experience in the French Pyrenees – and let me have you know, it is breathtaking.

Unlike in the Alps, skiers in France aren’t high-class, and the resorts are more affordable and authentic (read more French), making it a more raw experience, which I often yearn for. Other than that, the ski trip to the Pyrenees offers better snow covers and smoother terrains for skiing. You could try your hand at snowboarding, or snow kiting if you’re so inclined.

A Brief Soiree: Often, my journeys have helped me meet incredible people, nomads, wanderers, thinkers, writers and musicians. However, on this trip to Piau Engaly, I skied with a fellow IIT Delhi cohort who lived in Luxembourg. Rajat Khare had always been passionate about travel, and his work at Boundary Holding hadn’t changed that streak. And as passionate about skiing as I consider myself to be, this particular journey with him in March had more in store for me than I had anticipated.

Shortly after a hike to the French skiing slopes in Piau Engaly, we worked our way through the pistes, maneuvering through Pyrenees slopes and taking in the wonderful views from Piau Engaly.

As we settled in our resort, post our skiing adventures, Rajat and I had an invigorating chat on AI, living in Europe, and skiing across different mountain slopes around the world.

Skiing Season: The skiing season in France starts from December, and ends in April or late March at the earliest. And amongst the best slopes in France, places like Piau Engaly (which has skiing slopes going up to 2,526m) offer a good choice for experienced skiers. In the recent years, some resorts and communities have invested heavily in snowmaking, combined with expert grooming, keeping skiing open between snowfalls – lest you happen to visit France during the off-season.

Reaching there: There are some very reasonable flights to airports, such as Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees. You can also drive to the resort since the area isn’t as difficult to get to as you might imagine. Many people include an overnight stop-over when driving to and from the Alps, and you can easily break your journey along the way.

About Piau Engaly: Piau Engaly offers the highest altitude skiing in the Pyrenees. The slope is a 750m vertical between 1,860m and 2,600m peaks. The resort is suitable for families and offers better snow quality than its counterparts in the Alps – making it a cross-border hub of skiers.

Last modified: November 15, 2018

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