If you still think snowboarding in France is limited to the Alps, you have some serious shortcomings on geography! Haven’t you heard of the Pyrenees, the mountain range that serves as a border between France and Spain? Don’t worry: we got you covered. Here is a short overview of what they have to offer. Seriously: you should really consider going there next time you plan a snowboard trip.
The Pyrenees are about 430 kilometres long, and they go from the Mediterranean sea out to the Atlantic Ocean. You got it, there is plenty of terrain to have fun on! Sure, riders from the Alps sometimes kindly make fun of their Pyrenean counterparts. Maybe because the mountains are smaller and sometimes they get less snow, but you know, locals?!? Along the years, the Pyrenees have delivered a constant supply of impressive riders, such as Mathieu Crépel and the Delerue brothers, to name a few.
From La Pierre Saint-Martin to Puyvalador, the French Pyrenees offer 27 ski resorts. Whatever snowboarding vacation you’re looking for, the Pyrenees have it! However, among those many names, a few should probably already ring a bell: Cauterets, Luz-Ardiden, La Mongie, Saint-Lary or Les Angles made snowboarding’s star shine bright in Europe for many years.
Last December, Cauterets welcomed Pyrenees’ only stop of the Rock On Snowboard Tour – easily France’s biggest snowboarding event. The ‘ROST’ is a four-stop tour of snowboarding tests, fun contests and parties. It also hosts an International freeride film festival. The park is sponsored by Oakley and looked after by shaping legends HO5, so you’re sure to have fun.
With its 69 slopes and 43 lifts, La Mongie, home of Mathieu Crépel, is French Pyrenees’ biggest ski resort. What’s more, it is situated near the Pic du Midi, famous for its astronomical observatory and its breathtaking views. Saint-Lary has a legit snowpark, but it’s mostly known for hosting the Poney Session, a TTR event that stressed massive tricks and fun. The Poney Session is definitely over, but the locals gave it a following with the Pyrenees Circus, France’s only World Snowboard Tour event, last March. According to the riders and the medias who went, the event was great. We can’t wait to get our own opinion of it next year! Les Angles may not be the hottest place to be right now, but they had one of France’s first legit snowpark in 1991. It still holds up today, so you should definitely check it out.
The perfect location
What’s good with the Pyrenees? Is that many resorts are accessible from neighbouring cities, such as Bordeaux and Toulouse? So you can enjoy the city and then escape for a few rides? Absolutely! What’s more, there are some spots where you can do the infamous “California Double”. That is riding a snowboard and a surfboard in the same day. The western side of the mountain range is close to Biarritz, France’s surfing mecca!
The Pyrenees are a vast area, spread on two different regions, but they are known for their strong (and welcoming) local culture. So apart from the good riding, get ready to meet good people, indulge in good food…and never wanting to ride anywhere else again!