Skiing, Boarding & Snowsports
Love Skiing! The Skiing is great!
Chalet Hay sits in the Gripp valley, and when you look up the valley towards the mountain peaks you can see the start of the ski area. This area is called the Domain Tourmalet and covers the ski areas of La Mongie and Bareges, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees. The Chalet is also only 20 minutes from the cross country ski area of Payolle.
Access to the skiing is really easy. The Chalet is on the La Mongie side of the ski domain and is only a ten minute drive to the La Mongie car park. You simply jump in the car, drive up the hill and put your skis on! The roads are very well maintained especially in bad weather.
The Lie of the Land
Only 10 minutes drive from the door there is 120 km of pistes made up of 69 pistes including 6 blacks, 21 reds, 19 blues and 23 greens and loads of off piste skiing.
Beginners can learn at La Mongie’s purpose built ski school area and practise their skills on the local green slopes. As a beginner you can see a surprising amount of the mountain by sticking to the greens and easy blues.
Intermediates can ski all the way to the village of Bareges which is located over the famous Col de Tourmalet pass and represents roughly 20km of skiing from one side of the domain to the other.
For advanced intermediates there are plenty of challenging reds and blacks including moguls and some heart-stoppingly steep blacks! There are also some great little off-piste shortcuts to practise your powder skiing.
For experts, free-riders and tricksters the terrain park has all the kickers, half pipes and rails you need and also pumps out some funky tunes! The Pic De Midi offers fantastic off-piste skiing opportunities – contact the Tourist Information Office for more details. A guide is always recommended and the descent takes approximately three hours. Not only is there lots of off-piste action, but unlike the Alps, fresh tracks are possible everywhere!
For the more leisurely skiers there are several restaurants in lovely sunny spots – conveniently you do not need to do lots of skiing between long lunch’s and delicious hot chocolate with lots of cream on top biensur!
A great bonus is that there is a floodlit night ski slope open 2 nights a week. This is free and is a great warm up when you arrive on the Saturday if you are too late or tired to ski in the day. Night skiing is great for the keenest skiers or a place for the kids to mess around while the adults sit in the bars (a 100m away) and enjoy a scrumptious vin chaud (hot wine)!
Lift passes are sold at the ticket office in La Mongie located in the tourist office area. Tickets can be bought in a variety of time blocks the most popular being the 6 day lift pass costing approx €213 (depending on the time of year) for all mountain access and includes a trip up to the Pic De Midi (via 2 cable cars) and access to three other resorts in the Pyrenees, Luz Ardiden, Cauterets and Gavarnie. For a small additional cost the Pic de Midi pass can also be added.
There is also a reduced pass price for beginners, for children and for families, as well as cheaper alternatives if you don’t want an all mountain pass. You can also book online and save 5% on the resort prices.
Piste maps are available at the tourist office and the ticket office at La Mongie or from any tourist office. There are also some located in the Chalet in the leaflet baskets.
Ski, Snowboard and Boot Hire
There are numerous hire shops in La Mongie and also several hire shops between Bagneres-de-Biggore and La Mongie, should you wish to pick up your equipment en-route instead of in resort.
We suggest you book in advance for convenience and value purposes. We book online at Intersport in La Mongie where you get an excellent online discount (up to 50%) and the shop is very conveniently located by the slopes, ticket office and car parks.
Ski & Board Lessons
Lessons can be booked for group lessons or as private lessons. Private lessons are great here, the excellent prices make this an attractive option for beginners, intermediates, those looking to brush up on technique and those looking to go off-piste! Private lessons cost around €40 per hour (depending on the time of the season) for 1 or 2 people and around €45 per hour for 3 or 4 people.
You can book in resort or on-line. We would suggest booking on line at esf France so you avoid any disappointment when you are there, we also prefer private lessons as the tuition is excellent as is the value for money. If you email them your requirements they will get back to you. We love the ski instructor named, Muriel, she speaks excellent English, is amazing with the kids and great for intermediate and advanced adult lessons.
Car parking is free in La Mongie. There is a lower car park that is located opposite Intersport next to the ski school, the ticket office and the tourist office. There is an upper car park where you make a short walk to the slopes or ski straight onto the runs. During peak times, these car parks may get full, if they do there are several other car parks dotted around the resort serviced by buses efficiently circulating every couple of minutes.
Eating in La Mongie
In La Mongie there are lots of places to eat, with most main meals costing less than €10 per head, and with reasonably priced drinks you will be pleasantly surprised if you are used to the prices in the Alps!. La Mamas on the seafront (so called in the centre of La Mongie) does delicious wood-fired pizzas, favourites such as traditional Tartiflette and mouth watering grills. La Mamas also does tasty complete meals called ‘la planche’, that are great for replenishing energy for an afternoon of skiing! La Schuss is also on the front and does an excellent range of French food, make sure you try the hearty ‘plat du jours’ examples of which are duck a l’orange and beef stew. The staff at La Schuss are extremely friendly and you can also buy all the decor. The Irish pub has a good extensive menu and serves food all day. There are many more restaurants to choose from around the resort and on the slopes.
In the chalet there is also a restaurant recommendation book compiled by us and our guests, feel free to look through in helping to choose a place to eat and please add to the book if you make a new find!
Cross-Country Skiing (Ski-de-Fond)
In the neighbouring cross-country skiing resort of Payolle there is approximately 50 km of cross country trails consisting of a beginners slope 1.5 km, La Marmotte verte (green) 5 km, L’Ours (blue) 10 km, Le Lievre (red) 15 km, L’Isard (black) 21 km and Pedestrian Itineraries 5 km.
Payolle is stunningly beautiful, set around a lake, it also makes for a fantastic afternoon lunch and walk.
Snow Shoeing (Raquette)
Also in the beautiful area of Payolle, you can explore the mountains and wonder around the lake using the most ecologically sound way of exploring, snow shoeing. Snow-shoeing is basically big tennis rackets on your feet (!) that aid your walking through the snow. Guided tours and lessons can be organised at the tourist information. Walks can be around the resort or from other points in the valley.
Whilst walking in the winter at the lower altitude areas of the valley, you will see plenty of walkers about, pop into the Bagneres tourist information for a guide to the best routes.Equipment and guides can be hired in a number of resorts including Payolle to discover a peaceful and truly beautiful winter wonderland.
There are four ‘raquette’ circuits in Payolle ranging in length from a 4.5k tour round the lake to a more ambitious 10k walk through the beautiful forests that surround the picturesque lake. There are many other areas ideal for snow shoeing and walking including Lac Blue (Lake Blue), La Mongie and the Lesponny Valley.
La Mongie has a relaxed apres-ski life. There are some good restaurants with excellent local dishes and a few bars to choose from. See the Eating Out section above.
One of the most relaxing ways to spend an evening after a hard days skiing is with a visit to Aquensis, the city of water. Unwind in the outdoor rooftop jacuzzi, have a sauna or enjoy the stunning indoor pool.
Driving from the ski resort to Bagneres-de-Bigorre are numerous villages with some great restaurants to discover.
Back at Chalet Hay, a cosy atmosphere makes a wonderful night in with the log fire, the comfy lounge and dining area. There is also a large flat screen TV, DVD player and several board games.
La Mongie has a variety of shops selling ski wear, hardware, postcards and the usual tourist goods. There is also a pharmacy, a bakers, a supermarket, a deli shop selling delicious local produce (Terrior la Regional) and lots of restaurants, bars and shops. La Mongie has many bars serving great hot chocolate, beers, wines and of course ‘vin chaud’ (hot wine!). The hot ‘gaufrets’ (waffles) and crepes are also delicious and can not be missed! All the restaurants over-looking the pond are a great place to catch the sun over a drink at lunchtime and early evening.
Activities – Something a Little Different!
Take a ride at night in a piste-basher to the top of the mountain, enoy some cake and a glass of wine and head down again. Exciting fun for adults and children!
Descend the Tourmalet on a sledge, from the top! Great organised fun when the pistes are closed to the public!
Enjoy watching a torchlight descent down the Tourmalet and some hot wine!
Enjoy an evening meal at 2100m on the mountainside, access by telecabin or piste-basher!
All the above make a holiday something to remember, fun for all ages, book at the booking office next to the ticket office in La Mongie.
Dog- sledging, when the pistes close zoom round the mountains pulled by husky dogs! or go on a snow-mobile safari and drive your own sca-doo! Booking information at the tourist office.
For the Pic de Midi and the observatory, take the cable car from the La Mongie village, this has fantastic views of both the mountains and the flat-lands. Insist on an English tour for the observatory. There is also a restaurant and gift shop, so allow a good few hours for the trip.