Pas de la Casa ski resort sits right on Andorra's border with France, making it the principality's closest ski resort to Toulouse airport. Part of the extensive Grandvalira ski domain, 'Pas', as it is affectionately known, offers good intermediate skiing and snowboarding, washed down with a very lively après ski scene.
Pas was Andorra's first ski resort when it was founded in 1957. It's now the principality's largest, and welcomes more visitors than any other ski resort in the Pyrenees.
Snowsure, thanks to its high altitude and extensive snowmaking, the resort's pistes sweep down to the town centre - the only place in Andorra where this happens - and are linked via the neighbouring Grau Roig ski sector to the other major Andorran ski resorts, of Soldeu and El Tarter.
There is a downside, however: Pas de la Casa is not pretty. It has a ragtag collection of ugly buildings adorned with advertising billboards and packed with tax-free supermarkets, shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. Renowned for its thirsty nightlife, it's best suited to party animals, particularly beginners and intermediates, who are intent on burning the candle at both ends.
Pas de la Casa - Ski Map & Pistes:
Based at an altitude of 2,100m, this is the highest resort in Andorra. The local ski area has two distinct sectors: the Pas de la Casa sector rising from the western edge of the town, and the Grau Roig sector on the far side of the watershed Envalira ridge beyond.
The slopes closest to Pas de la Casa are busy motorway pistes, overlooked by a horseshoe-shaped sweep of hotels, apartment buildings, restaurants and bars. They're handy for lunch breaks and end-of-day home runs.
The principal pistes are red, although they are really mostly blue-equivalent in profile, with just a few steeper, true red pitches spilling off the Envalira ridge. Absolute beginners are well looked after in a roped-off cluster of nursery slopes at the uppermost end of Pas da la Casa's main street, adjacent to the quieter blue pistes on that side of town. This quarter also houses a slopestyle course served by its own [slow] chairlift.
The Grau Roig sector is more extensive and offers more varied terrain - including a half-pipe for the freestyle-minded - but is also chiefly characterised by similar motorway pistes. This sector also links across to the Soldeu ski area, for onward routes into the heart of the Grandvalira domain.
Pas de la Casa - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
Grandvalira has recognised the thirst for off-piste and ski-touring among advanced skiers and currently has six signposted circuits, which have been adapted to suit all levels of technical and physical aptitude. As well as masses of ungroomed 'sidecountry', between-piste terrain there are numerous lift-accessible freeride zones offering different routes and lines adapted for both intermediate freeriders and experts.
Some of the best off-piste is found around Grau Roig and Pic d’Encampadana above El Tarter. There is also the opportunity for a day trip to Ordino-Arcalis which is now included on the Grandvalira liftpass.
Pas de la Casa - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
Let's be honest, a lot of visitors are as attracted to Pas as much for the après as they are for the ski, and its multitude of lively pubs and bars cater for the predominantly young English-speaking tourists who animate the resort from afternoon happy hours through to the early hours of the morning.
Step off the slopes from around 4pm and you'll be straight in the middle of the action, with plenty of buzzing après venues to tempt you in on the way back to your accommodation. Live music, karaoke, DJs, or big-screen sports are the typical distractions. The Marseilles and Milwalkee bars are long-established haunts.
Later on in the evenings it's more of the same, with the volume turned up a bit. The resort has a couple of nightclubs, and some old-school disco-style venues, such as the Underground and Billboard, offering themed nights and occasional live entertainment.
Duty-free shopping is the other big attraction. As a tax haven, the town is stacked with booze and tobacco-filled supermarkets, but also has loads of boutiques and department stores stocking designer fashions, perfumes and jewellery, alongside music shops, electronic goods retailers and sports equipment outlets.
If you're looking for other ways to play, you can burn off energy snowmobiling and paintballing, and there is a large leisure centre, with a swimming pool at the bottom of the town.
Pas de la Casa - Ski Hire:
There are many good options for ski hire in Pas de la Casa and if you book through pasdelacasa.com you can get huge discounts of around 30 percent, through their hook-up with Rentaski. Other good options are Snow Torb and branches of eSports.
Pas de la Casa - Ski School:
Pas de la Casa ski and snowboard school is the official school run by Grandvalira. Across the Grandvalira ski area there are seven ski and snowboard schools in total, with a school local to each sector, all of which are run by the official mountain company Grandvalira. The resort's ski school has a good reputation (and usually a good complement of English-speaking instructors).