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Andorra

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whats the skiing like in Andorra? Never been but might be going this season to save some money!

I'm looking to go for a week 9th March, whats the snow like? lively/big resorts? good selection of challenging slopes?
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I looked into it last year but it isn't any cheaper.
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Ricklovesthepowder, Even with the drinks being 2euro instead of about 7euro?!
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OK I have only skied the Soldeau area but my observations are:

The snow could be good - Early March is probably the optimum time for snow quality
When we were there in mid April the snow was excellent but the resort was quiet. I suspect it is livelier earlier in the season
I found Soldeau expensive compared to France. For example the lift pass was more expensive than a Les Arcs pass.
There are no challenging slopes
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spiky1013, possibly the prices you are quoting are either for happy hour or out of date? Andorra used to be the cheaper alternative but I think you'll find thats no longer so true. Certainly it is possible to find a bargain but it is not ironed on like it used to be. Some nice skiing to be had but not uber challenging IMV.
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lilywhite, The prices may be completely wrong, I've just said what a friends told me! Smile
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Easiest pistes i've ever skied - black run in andorra wouldn't even be red in some french resorts. So no, not challenging on piste.
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Soldeu looks to be a reasonably nice village but Pas De La Casa is ghastly. The combined ski area is large, generally easy and prone to mixed conditions. I have been there twice in early March, the first time the snow was very good with most runs open, the second time there was virtually no snow and less than 30% of the resort open. They may well have invested in better snowmaking facilities since then. In terms of value for money I think many Austrian and Italian resorts would be better.
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queen bodecia, I thought Soldeu was pretty ghastly. Unless you stay in one of the luxury hotel near the lift station you are faced with a long trek along the narrow busy main road. The village itself straddles this busy road and no parts of it could be described as attractive. Though I have to admit we didn't stay in Pas de la Casa we would always ski over to it more or less first thing in the morning for a quiet coffee at a piste side cafe. To me it looked more like a ski resort than Soldeu.
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If you can look past the sight of the villages then it's a good place to ski for an intermediate. We enjoyed it there and got a good deal on travel, accommodation, half board, ski hire and lift passes so it was worthwhile us going.

Drink/food prices were on a par with Austria and Italy we found - €4ish for a beer. All the food slopeside seemed quite fast food like and not as fresh as you get in other areas.
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Went to Soldeu last feb half term and had a great time. Ive read the horror stories of no snow and warm afternoons but I can honestly say it was one of my best weeks on the snow. We stayed in a 4* spa hotel down the road from the main lift, the hotel and spa was empty! Spa was amazing and rooms were great.
The pistes were also empty which seemed odd for feb half term. I would definately go again.

Oh yeah and it snowed for 3 days solid, check out a little vid i made

http://youtube.com/v/rDiq8BQW1XI
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Arkalis (can't remember how to spell it correctly so it migth be wrong) was a well-kept secret and the best skiing I've ever had.

Keep away from other resorts during peak seasons though - there were far too many people on the slopes to enjoy yourself.

In Arkalis I often skiid for 30 minutes without seeing anyone! That was New Year 2011.
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The difference between Soldeu and Pas depends on what you're looking for in a resort - Soldeu is much more family friendly than Pas and is a bit more chilled out, although still has a few lively bars, whereas Pas tends to attract lots of French day trippers and lots of younger groups who like to party hard. The ski area is the same for both, and Soldeu hosted World and European Cup races last year, so has some very challenging runs, although mostly suited from beginners up to good intermediates.

Arinsal is in the other valley and the ski area is a lot smaller but so is the lift pass price, however the village is a lot more traditional and personally I think it has the best apres atmosphere in Andorra. The Arinsal lift pass also covers you for Arcalis and as JackAbroad says it is a well-kept secret and well worth heading to, although it's a day trip place as there aren't any hotels there.
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johnE, fair enough, I only really saw Soldeu from the pistes and it looked far more appealing than Pas De La Casa which can best be described as Benidorm with mountains.
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spiky1013 wrote:
Whats the skiing like in Andorra? Never been but might be going this season to save some money!

I'm looking to go for a week 9th March, whats the snow like? lively/big resorts? good selection of challenging slopes?


Its the kind of place you might to go once - not much challenge on piste, not much linkage of ski areas (so big journeys not very possible).

The drinks sub-culture very rampant - being hounded by folk with flyers to go to their bar as you step off the slopes is not what interests me are mine. The upside was that if you were will to get the first lifts up in the morning you could have the whole mountain to yourself until 11 'sh when the hung-over made it to the slopes (even lessons did not seem to start before 10.30).

Long story short - I think there might be better places to go.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Ian Kenvyn wrote:
not much linkage of ski areas

Grandvalira has 205km of linked pistes.

By the sounds of your post you probably stayed in Pas!
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Thanks for the replies!

All in all then I guess it looks like its better to just head to France if the prices are similar!

For anyone that's skied both, I take it you'd recommend LDA over somewhere like pas? Are the prices relatively similar once there? Smile
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If your price sensitive you will be better off choosing a sattelite town on a large area that is well connected in France or perhaps try somewhere like La Thuile in Italy? Connected with La Rosiere in France, same lift pass for a day in Pila and Courmayeur, cheaper than French big resorts and yummy Italian food. Planibel complex is right on the slope and good value for money if a bit souless but easy walk down into town, all the major T/Os go there.
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spiky1013, despite what some say, the overall holiday price is usually cheaper in Andorra than it is in the Alps. Yes, the prices aren't absolutely rock bottom like they used to be, but that's because Andorra have invested huge amounts of money in lift infrastructure and snow making. Arinsal in the Vallnord ski area usually works out quite a lot cheaper than the resorts in Grandvalira (Soldeu and Pas de la Casa) so personally I'd suggest pricing up the options and then deciding from there.

There are a lot of folks who would never say try Andorra just because they went 10 years ago and had a bad experience, although it has changed beyond recognition since then.
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snowsteve wrote:
Ian Kenvyn wrote:
not much linkage of ski areas

Grandvalira has 205km of linked pistes.

By the sounds of your post you probably stayed in Pas!


Thank you presuming to know where I skied. And it was less than 10 years ago.

You clearly are an Andora fan - which is entirely your right. I hope you continue to enjoy the area. Madeye-Smiley
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I live in Andorra, although for tax reasons rather than skiing ones I would break down the resorts as follows;

Arinsal: This is the most pleasant place to have accommodation although the skiing will not tax anyone beyond a beginner, however, there is a free bus service every 20mins that takes you to Arcalis, which has some good off-piste, mostly because it does not get tracked out till late in the day. You also have links to Pal which again is beginner to early intermediate friendly.

Pas de la casa is very club 18-30 but the Grandvalira ski area is bigger than the vallnord one. Soldeu is quite a pleasant little village, although as mentioned it does have a road running through it.

In terms of pricing it is no longer as cheap here as it used to be although bargains can still be had, if anyone does end up coming out here drop me a pm if you fancy a beer.
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airbornebadger, agree there are bargains to be had and if you get one you should spend a fair amount less than you would if you were in France.

spiky1013, I went to L2A and Andorra (staying in Pas) in the same year. As far as skiing went I think I enjoyed Andorra more, I just had more fun (bloke mid 30s skiing with OH and stepson - we weren't there to party!). On a holiday I like to ski from village to village and you can do a bit more of this in the Grandvalira. L2A seemed quite strange in that respect, it's sort of an out and back type place. Granted some (most) of the slopes were trickier/more challenging at L2A.
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I have skied in over 50 European resorts and have season passes for Chamonix(MontBlanc Unlimited) and Grandvalira. My Grandvalira pass is a third the price of Chamonix!
The lift system and lack of queues in Grandvalira mean that in a day of skiing my total vertical is very similar in both areas despite the fact that Grandvalira only has a vertical drop of 700m.
Piste maintenance in Grandvalira is the best I have ever seen, Megeve gets close but not quite as good.
Food on the mountain is a disgrace except for Pessons. Pas has several decent places to eat alongside the piste (its only saving grace).
Don't let anyone tell you that there are no decent black runs, last person who said that left two sixty year olds to continue whilst he went back to his hotel for a liedown at 1:30pm, seems he wasn't as fit as he thought! rolling eyes
Soldeu is a friendly resort and suitable for all ages, local ski school instructors can be found in the bars entertaining people both apres ski and in the evenings. Drinks prices have not changed much in the last 3 or 4 seasons but they are definitely cheaper than France and on a par with Austria and Italy.
Several things need to be bourne in mind, why has the Europa cup and last year the World cup been held there and also why do BASI and CSIA use it to train and examine their instructors?
Quote:

not much linkage of ski areas

Ian Kenvyn, you are just simply wrong.
surfstar, Great video, shame about the music, wink


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 23-10-12 16:44; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

Piste maintenance in Grandvalira is the best I have ever seen, Megeve gets close but not quite as good.

It depends on what you mean by piste maintenance. True, they bash all pistes remorselessly but it is almost impossible to find any decent bumps to play on. I wish they would just leave some pistes alone, not everyone wants to charge down corduroy all day. It gets a bit monotonous.
And yes there are no decent black runs
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If you're trying to save cash, it's worth looking at Livigno in Italy. It's tax free too, so food/drink/ski hire/lessons are very cheap. The town is a lot nicer than Pas De la Casa (admittedly my only experience of skiing in Andorra), and it has a great snow record. Not the most challenging of pistes, but more challenging than anything in Pas, and some really good off piste/trees when conditions are right. It also has one of the best snowparks I've been in, and has lots of mini parks here and there with a couple of airbags, if that's you thing.
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johnE wrote:
Quote:

Piste maintenance in Grandvalira is the best I have ever seen, Megeve gets close but not quite as good.

It depends on what you mean by piste maintenance. True, they bash all pistes remorselessly but it is almost impossible to find any decent bumps to play on. I wish they would just leave some pistes alone, not everyone wants to charge down corduroy all day. It gets a bit monotonous.
And yes there are no decent black runs


You should try Arcalis plenty of bumps to play on.
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Decision, decisions...

Quite frankly I'm stumped. A lot of people saying its no cheaper but looking at the package prices online (granted I have no info for in resort prices) it seems a fair chunk cheaper Puzzled
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The only thing that puts me off a trip is the crazy 4-5 hour transfer, unless that has changed?
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You know it makes sense.
lilywhite, Nope thats still the same, will effectively lose at least half a days skiing because of the transfer!
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Bumm3r! I couldn't do that again.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Transfer day is usually Sunday arriving Soldeu in the afternoon, in time to get ski hire etc.
Return is Sunday morning usually early i.e. between 4 & 8am.
So you get a full 6 days skiing, same as any other resort.
4 to 5 hours is a bit of an exaggeration can be 3 to 4 hours unless there is a problem, people still remember 10 / 15 years ago, before the improvements to the roads in France and the tunnel built under the mountain from Pas to Soldeu.
spiky1013, how much skiing/boarding have you done, if you are BASI 4 level then you won't find much of the gnarly stuff to keep you happy, but plenty of other runs for most levels of skiers.
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johnE,
Quote:
but it is almost impossible to find any decent bumps to play on.


Is that apart from the Bumps piste/arena in El Tarter just above the park?
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freestyleandy wrote:
johnE,
Quote:
but it is almost impossible to find any decent bumps to play on.


Is that apart from the Bumps piste/arena in El Tarter just above the park?


I used to really enjoy that bumps stade, some really nice lines, though could do with being a bit steeper.
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Ive been to soldeu/el tarter twice, both quite late season.

Both times it was very quiet you could do full runs down with seeing anyone and both times there was plenty of snow clear skies and sun.

There are a few challenging blacks such as the world cup tracks into soldeu and a few blacks in el tarter that dont get the sun and become very icy.

I love Andorra and would definitely go again
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We went in mid Feb last year on a last minute deal. Stayed in Arinsal which is pretty nice and has a small village feel to it. The skiing there's limited (not helped by the high temps and huge thaw they were having) but great for beginners and pootling about with a family. Pal, which is linked by a cable car is a little nicer to ski in as it's more tree lined.

El Tartar & Soldeu were OK though it was very busy. Some of the runs were quite fun and we got as far as Cubil on the day we went. Certainly a big area to explore.

Arcalis was a gem. Pretty much undeveloped, beautiful scenery and great skiing, but we picked one of the busiest day's with the Freeride world cup there. The bus can get pretty busy as well generally. From Arinsal IIRC it was just a twice daily service (if you went direct).

We went specifically because it was a bargain. I can't say I'd pick it over anywhere else if the prices were similar. Transfer was about 3.5 hours - but it was a fairly pleasant trip. Flying in to Chambrey cuts that significantly.

I really liked the country though. Very friendly people, and we had a fantastic hotel. If you like your mountain biking you can visit the Commencal "factory" in Erts if you stay in Arinsal. I say visit, more turn up and stare through the windows. Really nice people who took me and the family on a late night guided tour (and I don't own a Commencal). Very Happy
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I'm going to Soldeu for a week over Christmas this year with my girlfriend who has not skied before & Soldeu is excellent for beginners. I have not gone through a travel agent, but have got everything separately. For return flights, return transfers, an apartment in a chalet 300m from the main telecabin lift, a Grandvalira full area ski pass, ski equipment hire & 15 hours of ski school comes to the grand total of £570 each. Is that cheap or expensive?
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Dypcdiver, I'm a L2 instructor (slowly going through 3) so hopefully can find some stuff to keep me happy. Seems we will be going to Pas as theres 8 of us and its impossible to change 7 other minds!

gary, That seems fairly good including lessons, we've got package deal for a week without lessons which has come to £465 each.
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spiky1013,Pas would not be my choice, but then I have been going to Andorra since 1976 which would give you a clue to my age! There are quite a few of us who ski together on a casual basis for fun, most have certs of CSIA or BASI but only put them to use when ski school gets overloaded! The Husky is usually the eatery of choice in Pas for lunch.
I should be in Soldeu when you are there, I'll pm you with contact details in case you fancy meeting up.
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Crell,

I would have thought that flying to Toulouse was a lot better than Chambery for transfers to Andorra. Sleazy from Bristol & LGW, BA from LHR, Aer Lingus from Dublin.
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spiky1013, I was out in Soldeu for 3 weeks in March doing BASI L3 courses. Had a great time - it's certainly not the most challenging resort but it's not all easy especially if you go off-piste. There is lots of easily accessable off-piste areas although they were getting tracked fairly quickly.

Conditions at the start of my stay were pretty sparse, it looked like it had not snowed for several weeks. It was warm and muddy patches were appearing, some pistes closed etc. Then we had a big snowstorm over a couple of days and about 60-70cm of some of the best powder i've skied which set us up for the last week!
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