VallNord comprises the lift and ski run connected ski areas above Pal and the village of Arinsal, as well as another ski area at Ordino, Arcalis - so essentially three areas for the price of one! Many tour operators and skiers still refer to these villages individually rather than under the new collective marketing name of VallNord. The area has long been rightly famous for its fun and friendly environment, excellent English speaking ski schools and high value, often lively apres-ski, particularly in Arinsal. However the past decade has also seen a distinct move up market with ever higher quality evident on and off the slopes. Some prices have risen as a result of this, but VallNord remains markedly more affordable than the other Andoran ski area. Until the 2000/01 Pal and Arinsal were two separate resorts and of course they remain two separate villages. However for that season the two resorts and ski areas were linked and both resorts began to market themselves jointly. This was followed by another marketing merger, this time with the Arcalis ski area (also known as Ordino). Together the ski areas became known as VallNord. They are the latest of many resort mergers in Andorra so that the country which once had ten or so fragmented ski areas, now officially has just two ski resorts. Since the 1990s Andorra has made massive financial investment into its ski facilities and Pal - Arinsal, as well as the country's other resorts, has seen rapid development. For the 98/99 season Arinsal's first gondola lift was installed reducing the time needed to reach the ski area down to only four minutes. As well as the new gondola in 1998/99 both resorts renewed and extended their snow gardens therefore improving their facilities for children. Arinsal was established in the early 1970s when the Western end of the La Massana Valley was developed. It is an attractive but rather spread out Catalan village, to the north of Andorra la Vella, the capital. The village itself is typical of quaint Pyreneen villages, attractively built in the typical local style slate and stone. The village is only nine kilometres (six miles) from the Spanish border and is famous for its young atmosphere. It is very lively and rapidly expanding (expect building work!). Andorra, is, of course, a country well known for its extraordinary duty free shopping, Arinsal is a year round holiday destination but especially popular during the skiing season when seasonal workers outnumber locals six to one. First opened in 1982 Pal lies at the head of the la Massana Valley to the north west of Andorra la Vella, the country's capital. The ski resort, one of five in Andorra, located between France and Spain in the Eastern Pyrynees. The resort itself is located in the centre of a National Park - an area of spectacular natural beauty, one good reason why people return to this area year after year - another being the extensive duty-free shopping in the country. During the 1990s Andorra made massive financial investment into its ski facilities with all the Andorran ski resorts undergoing major developments . Pal is no exception and in recent years the resort has made several improvements. The opening up of the Seturia sector, mid-way between Pal and neighbouring Arinsal, added three new pistes, a quad chairlift, snow cannons, new car parks and more restaurants. Arinsal has invested in a completely new, modern snow park. The Seturia Sector, mid-way between Arinsal and Pal was also opened up in preparation for the addition of Andorra's first cable car and further extending the skiing area and facilities. The 2000/2001 season saw the consolidation of investments with the spectacular Seturia cable car linking Arinsal and Pal into one extensive ski resort. A first for the Pyrenees, each cabin takes 50 people - on the six minute ride from its base in the Coll de la Botella to its summit at Port Negre, a distance of 2,376m. Ordino-Arcalis, the newest of Andorra's four ski resorts is located in the north-eastern corner of this tiny duty free principality. Although its on the French border there is no entry into France - the access point is on the other side of the country at Pas de la Casa. Arcalis first opened in 1982; very recent in comparison with the other Andorran resorts. This is a purpose built resort with no slopeside accommodation, the closest lodging being at El Serrat 7km (4 miles) away and Ordino approximately 12km (8 miles) away. With the Ski Andorra lift pass it is now possible to ski all of Andorra's resorts on one pass so visirtors wanting to ski at Ordino might also consider staying in the capital, la Vella and travelling to each resort. Ordino is probably the most culturally attractive town in Andorra and, considering the redevelopment which has taken place in the country over the last decade, the old part of the town has remained more or less unscathed. For centuries the Parish of Ordino was devoted to mining and metallurgy but its principal revenue now is from tourism - especially its winter tourist trade. There are still some traditional activities, mainly tobacco and potato farming, and farmers do still raise livestock. Ordino has a distinguished history and in earlier times it was this Parish which housed all the powerful Andorran elders such as the Casa d'Areny de Plandolit in Ordino, a rank which dates back to 1633. The villages of the Ordino valley, with their ancient stone and slate roofed buildings, are totally in harmony with their natural surroundings, perhaps this is why the area has been twinned with the mountain resort of Gstaad in Switzerland. The parish church was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and houses the smallest and most ancient madonna in the principality "la Verge del Remei" (our Lady of Recoverance) in romanesque style. The National Auditorium represents Ordino's strong musical tradition, the outer shell of which dates to 1930 when it was erected as a National Museum. It was then purchased by the Government in 1991 and beautifully rebuilt in local stone and walnut.
Arinsal was established in the early 1970s when the Western end of the La Massana Valley was developed. It is an attractive Catalan village, but rather spread out. It is very lively and rapidly expanding (expect building work!). The resort operates a ski bus service between Arinsal and La Massana