News from the snow
La Mongie France
Higher, bigger, whiter with an abundance of pleasure to share quietly or at full throttle. The Tourmalet Ski Resort opens up a new dimension of hollidaying free from pressure and stress. Here you are no longer on the earth, you are between 1400 and 2500 meters nearer the sky. Plunge into a never-ending open space for fabulous skiing. You are in charge. That's because you are in the Tourmalet Ski Resort, the largest ski resort on the French side of the Pyrénées. 69 marked ski runs, 43 ski lifts. 100 km of runs - is your head starting to spin? Hardly surprising - that's how it feels to be on top of the world! The year Tourmalet is again hosting many events and competitions, each of which aims to excel, in order to attract the most demanding participants. Barèges : ski village La Mongie : the ski resort at the foot of the slopes There are spectacular views from the top of the Col du Tourmalet and visitors crowd here every summer when the Tour de France cycle race passes through. This is one of the most grueling mountain sections of the race and competitors make the steep ascent of the valley on the narrow single track road which is used as a piste in the winter.
La Mongie is not only the site of a famous mountain-stage of the yearly "Tour de France" bicycle tournament, it is the center of the Pyrenées largest ski area as well ( linked to Barèges ). Founded in 1948, it has a charming centre and reasonable prices.
The restaurant at the Tourmalet makes a good stopping off point with spectacular panoramic views over the Pyrenees. Some good steeper skiing on the La Mongie side where more the more advanced will find challenging reds at the Pain de Sucre and Petits Sapins just above the village. Good powder skiing on the north facing slopes.
On the Bareges side the most challenging slopes are to be found at Pic d'Ayre with red and black runs through Le Lienz forest. The Prade Berde is probably La Mongie's most challenging piste. The area has a good range of terrain with long motor way runs for intermediates and off-piste and powder for the more advanced.
From the top of the Tourmalet you can clearly see the Observatory which stands on the Pic du Midi, a lone summit at a height of 2877m/9440 ft. Built in 1878, construction of the Observatory took 4 years because work could only be carried out during summer months when the area was free of snow and ice. Initially a weather center, the Observatory has achieved world wide fame in astronomy since the Apollo landing preparation work was carried out there. Before the cable car was installed in 1952 the only way in and out was on foot and solitary scientists would often spend months there.
Fondues are very popular and Le Schuss serve no less than 11 different types including Chinese, with a variety of meats and sauces. Try the raclette a local delicacy of melted cheese.
Major competitions are regularly staged here, among these the Quiksilver Cup, held annually in March. The competition involves the 2 disciplines of surfing both on snow and water with the windsurfing held in the gigantic surf off the Atlantic coast.
Award winner : Double snowboard champion at the Quik Cup, French Half Pipe Champion in 2004 and 2005, winner of the World Half Pipe Cup in 2005, 1st Professionnal World Snowboard Champion in 2006 (TTR), World Champion Big Air and Half Pipe 2007
"The Domaine du Tourmalet has an exceptional freeride domain with an infinite number of possibilities, and even more with the Pic du Midi. Knowing the domain by heart also enables me to know here i can go according to the conditions, so there's always something fun to do."