Cauterets is a ski and winter sports resort in the French Pyrenees, located in the city of Cauterets, in the Hautes-Pyrénées department, in the Occitania region.
Location of the Cauterets ski resort
You can go downhill and cross-country skiing in the Cirque du Lys and Pont d’Espagne domains.
Cirque du Lys is among 1730 and 2430 m. The area is to the west of the Cauterets station, although it faces east. Which gives it an exceptional snow cover (Cauterets is the snowiest resort in the Pyrenees).
Located in the Hautes-Pyrénées department, on the edge of the Pyrenees National Park, Cauterets is both a small spa town and a winter sports center. Two universes that mix and match harmoniously to give Cauterets a very special character:
- A city whose architecture reflects the splendor of the 19th century, the golden age of hydrotherapy. A period during which the bourgeoisie hastened to take advantage of the benefits of the Cauterets hot springs.
- Also, it is a full ski resort. It has a gondola, shops (ski shops, restaurants, souvenir shops …) and leisure facilities (swimming pool, ice rink …).
Cauterets is, therefore, a city in the mountains (or a mountain in the city, depending on whether one goes there to ski or relax).
A walk through the city of Cauterets
On the city side, you will enjoy strolling through the shopping streets, the covered market or l’Esplanade des Oeufs. From store to store, street to street, you will taste the typical sweets and cakes of the Pyrenees with blueberries (a delight). While admiring monuments and buildings with architecture inherited from ancient ages (the Caesar thermal baths, the Esplanade gallery, the Hôtel d’Angleterre, the old Casino or even the old train station, nowadays transformed into a bus station) .
As for skiing, you can choose between alpine or Nordic skiing. For alpine, the Cirque de Lys area, accessible in just 12 minutes via the Lys gondola. For Nordic activities (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.), the unique area of Pont d’Espagne, located just a few minutes from Cauterets.
Cauterets is, therefore, a privileged destination if you are looking for a holiday resort rich in history; combining relax, wellness and skiing. It shows up a wide diversity of proposals (Cirque de Lys, Pont d’Espagne, Cauterets …), numerous services to facilitate your stay (transport, ski storage …) and the atmosphere of a small city. In a unique environment, in the mountains, inhabited all year round and, therefore, provided with all shops and services.
Only two warnings to emphasize: the old and abandoned side of some streets with closed stores, and the “remote” situation of the ski area; compared to Cauterets that requires you to take the cable car to reach the ski slopes.
Snowparks and recreational parks in Cauterets
Located on the edge of the Gentiane slope, between the Crêtes and Grand Barbat chair lifts, the Cirque du Lys freestyle park (to which the famous Oakley brand contributes) is an area especially aimed to freestylers. Different modules shaped to the millimeter build up the routes of this park. An ideal playground for all those who want to enjoy new sliding experiences.
The site and domain of Pont d’Espagne
Located 7 km from Cauterets in the Pyrenees National Park, the Pont d’Espagne, Grand Site Midi-Pyrénées, is the second ski resort of Cauterets. Smaller and lower in altitude (at 1500 m) compared to Cirque de Lys. This area is particularly suitable for Nordic activities (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing …) in a perfectly preserved natural environment.
6 kilometers of snowshoe trails and 36 kilometers of cross-country ski trails run from plateau to plateau along the Gave du Marcadau river. A paradise for nature lovers, this ski resort combines scenic beauty and serenity. Snowshoeing from the Pont d’Espagne waterfall to the Pont de la Pourtère is a true outdoor dive. With the only witnesses, the isards (chamois of the Pyrenees) always attentive.
Alpine ski area Cauterets
Finally, note that Pont d’Espagne also has a small alpine domain. Perfect for having fun during the day, away from the crowds and bustle of the big ski domains. This small alpine domain consists of an area for beginners (2 green slopes, a telecord and a chairlift) and a forest area. Through this area, the blue Gaube trail and the Tremplin trail meander. These slopes are untreated, to allow more experienced skiers to rediscover old ski techniques on the slopes.
Access to Pont d’Espagne can be done in your own vehicle (huge parking lot at the entrance) or through a transport service. It is not free, but it works regularly (every hour in high season) between Cauterets and the Puntas reception chalet.
Although we find areas to eat or have a snack, the resort does not have material rental shops. It is convenient to visit with your own team.
Cauterets, life after skiing
At the gates of the Pyrenees National Park, Cauterets is at the same time a small mountain town. Its urban, elegant and refined appearance stands out. With family or friends, the slopes are endless in a breathtaking panorama worthy of the Great Northern Canada. Two ski areas that allow alpine skiing and Nordic activities. Whatever your preference, it is remarkable this complementarity that gives Cauterets its unique charm. The nature and charm of the villa are also great assets. Its hot springs made it the Pyrenean capital of the high society during the crazy twenties. During the 1960s it allowed its development into the white gold industry.
Cirque du Lys as a background
Among the snowiest places in France, Cirque du Lys benefits from exceptional snow cover linked to ideal exposure. It is also usually the first ski area in the mountains to open and, therefore, one of the last to close. Located just 12 minutes from Cauterets through the Lys gondola, Cauterets offers perfectly prepared, marked and safe slopes. The Yéti Park beginner area has 5 lifts. Including the longest magic carpet in Europe, allowing the whole family to learn to ski. The blue track of Crêtes offers a vertical drop of 700 m and a unique panorama on the summits of the Hautes Pyrenees. Snowboarders gather at Oakley Park, the second French freestyle park promoted by the brand. To highlight the boardercross and the 20 modules that include an O’rail and an Oakley ladder (equivalent to a giant ladder) unique in Europe.