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Please recommend a Spanish ski resort we can drive to.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We are thinking of getting the ferry to Spain and driving to resort, which isn’t something we’ve done before.

We are a family of 4 with 2 teen kids who like challenging reds and me being nervous prefer wide blues. Not bothered about nightlife, although a centre with a few shops for provisions would be good. The less t-bars the better. I hate bloody t-bars!! We’d want an apartment and with us having the car, out of town and away from lifts would be ok. As short a travel time to resort as possible would be good too. And quite snow sure would be good too.

Any ideas? Cheers
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@bambionskiis, only place I can think of is Formigal. Never been myself, but some friends have been twice and enjoyed it. She's a pretty nervous skier.
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Sounds like a good idea. I may end up doing it.,

I suppose it's all a question of attitude. I don't really notice t-bars, so my attitude may be different.... but it's an easy drive across the Pyrenees from one side to the other, so you can just get the ferry into Bilbao and then drive across to anything you fancy. I've done the drive in the other direction only, at the season end when conditions were easy (15cm of fresh one morning as I followed the plough... a good thing and an easy drive). You can go for resort style accommodation, or the places where the accommodation is down the mountain in some stone village. Dunno about "nightlife", but you generally can't get fed until close to midnight, so some adjustment of personal schedules is handy. I guess if you self-cater that's less of a problem.
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If you get the ferry to Bilbao why not go to Andorra? Other than that the only Spanish resort I came close to skiing when driving around there was La Molina. However, it was a small resort with limited skiing for anything above intermediate level (less than in Andorra which was fairly limited as well).

It did seem very family friendly, which suggests that people like me driving around in a van on their own would not have been very welcome anyway.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@bambionskiis, Spanish Pyrenees? Baqueria Beret, and staying 20 minutes down the valley in Vielha meets all of your requirements, and I'd highly recommend it.
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Baqueira-Beret.

Spanish royal family stays there.
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There is only one destination...... Baqueira Beret. If you drive you have the option to stay down the valley in Vielha.
Greater choice of accommodation from hotels to apartments.
Drive up to resort is about 15 mins. This is a gem of a ski area which is only becoming mainstream in very recent times.
The only t operator for years was Ski Miquel, my first visit was around 1987, I've been back many times!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
www.skinspired.co.uk is run by a friend of mine who could help with accommodation, in the resort (which is very sleepy at night, not much more than a dormitory), or down the valley in Vielha (which is lovely in the evening).
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La Molina joins with Massela (making it about the same size as Baqueira-Beret) but is probably best accessed from Barcelona which is the way I drove up. Baquiera-Beret is closer to Bilbao.
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Odd, there is a few of us singing from the same song sheet here!!!!!
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I often believe the majority vote is the correct one, until it isn't!!!!
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Thanks guys; good suggestions. Looking at Baqueria-Baret am I right in saying the nearest port is Bilbao? And the drive time from that port appears to be 11 hours? And I think the sail time is about 23 hours from the UK. We were thinking about doing it over Christmas and new year and have 2 weeks off, so not in Particular rush. I’m guessing the crossing will be a bit grim I would imagine!!
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@bambionskiis, when you sail near the coast the crossing can be very smooth. Going from Scotland to Zeebrugge the worst part is crossing the English channel as it is when you are away from the coast.
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 You know it makes sense.
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Ah right thanks bigtipper. We’d sail from Portsmouth I think. Just got to get through the channel then.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@bambionskiis, We have done both Portsmouth to Santander and Portsmouth to Bilbao in the summer. Have a booking for Santander this summer - still hoping!

In the summer Brittany Ferries use Cap Finistere for the Bilbao route and Pont Aven for Santander. Most people prefer Pont Aven. You would only cut your driving time down by an hour or so going to Bilbao. However I'm not sure what their schedule is like for Christmas/New Year and whether the usual ships would be running. Also bear in mind that the crossings don't always tie in with Saturday to Saturday accommodation. If Pont Aven is on the Santander route I would book that.

I have heard good things about Baqueira Beret but not actually been there. I would check the driving time on Via Michelin. Some places in France are about 5 hours drive from Santander eg. St Lary, but it sounds as though your preference is for Spain.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks for that snowymum. Hmm yes I’ve just been checking and the timetable for Britanny ends in October so I’m not sure if this is a starter. May be back to the drawing board!!
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@bambionskiis, I think I read that the Brittany Ferries winter timetable will be released in July. I think there are usually sailings to Spain year round.
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Ah right thanks snowymum
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I would go to Baqueira Beret. The ski area is at least as good as the other big one, Granvalira.
Do not underestimate the time it takes to get to the eastern Pyrenees (Andorra) from the Atlantic coast.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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If it 11 hours from Bilbao I would be tempted to drive down through France from a channel port and overnight somewhere on the way. From memory you drive up the Garonne valley to Bacqueira before turning into the Val d'Aran - the Garonne being the river that eventually ends up in Bordeaux. You probably could do it in a day on autoroutes and tolls - the last time I did it I overnighted as I visited an ex next door neighbour who now lives with views of the pyrrennees on a clear day.....and it was a clear day.

If you have a car look at some multi centre holidays - Le Tourmalet - La Molina on French side was nice as was St Lary and I think they have improved the lift system at St Lary, which would have been my main criticism, since I went there. May be still too many t-bars at St Lary though. Baqueira has many fans on this site and it has some good plus points but for two weeks may get a bit repetitive and there are some t bars at the furthest extremities. Definitely do not stay in the resort itself unless it is full of the apartment owners and families as the place is as dead as a dodo. I suspect it is a big weekend and holiday resort for touousains and madridois apartment owners. I know that you say that this does not worry you but......

and in bad weather there is one simple reason I will never return there - most is above the treeline and they only marked the pistes on one side left or right randomly so no following piste markers down or you could find that you were on the off piste side with all sorts.
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Thanks onnem, yes really not sure about a journey to Andorra, although we do have time on our side.

Countryman you make a worrying point there about signage and the digging around I’ve done has come up with the same criticism. I’m an extremely nervous skiier and to be in a resort where I’m not really confident of where the runs are is very off-putting for me. Hmm I think I need to give this more thought
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Another vote for Baqueria and ski inspired. I'd drive over taking the Ferry. In the past we've stayed over night in Limoges and I think the over all time is a couple of hours more than the Alps, depending.

Baqueira aside I'd love to do a Pyrenees road trip taking in the small resorts.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@bambionskiis, Where did you get 11 hours from Bilbao to Baqueira Beret from? It's about the same distance as London to Newcastle, I'd be surprised if it took that long.
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Andanotherthing I had also been toying with a road trip and different resorts as a possibility.

Ricardo you’re right. I checked and have gotten that wrong.
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bambionskiis wrote:
Andanotherthing I had also been toying with a road trip and different resorts as a possibility.

Ricardo you’re right. I checked and have gotten that wrong.


Google Maps suggests just under 5 hrs from Bilbao to Vielha, best route is along the coastal motorway into France up to Bayonne then A64 past Pau & Tarbes before following the Garonne valley up to Val d'Aran.

As it's only 11 hours drive from Calais, depending on your starting point in the UK, I'd be tempted to do the tunnel and drive, rather than chancing a sailing across the notoriously choppy Bay of Biscay in winter. I once did an overnight crossing from Portsmouth-St. Malo in Summer on rough seas with the boat heaving & hoing, and most of the passengers were doing the same!! An awful experience and I wasn't right even once back on terra firma.

The ferry prices to Spain are astronomical too, would easily pay for tunnel, fuel, tolls & overnight stop, once you take into account what you would have spent getting there from Bilbao anyway.
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