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St Lary is a large, traditional Pyrenéan resort at 830m linked by road or cable car to altitude stations (and base of ski runs) at La Cabane (1600m), larger Pla d'Adet (1700m) and Espiaule (1900m), making it one of the most important ski centre in the French Pyrenées. The village, located in the heart of the Pyrenees and the Aure valley, and opening out towards the sloping hillsides of Gascony, existed for thousands of years before the arrival of snow sports. It is located on a route used for thousands of years by merchants and pilgrims and referred to in Roman reports. Today it has a relaxed way of life with well preserved architecture. On the slopes however, facilities are more up to date, with new lifts and snowmaking added recently. Before skiing came along the resort was famous for its healing waters, which contain sulphur and sodium. These thermal springs have been renowned since Antiquity and are still accessible today. The Saint-Lary Thermal baths located in a park at the centre of the village offer state-of-the-art facilities and a new canyon themed spa opened more recently. In the centre of Saint-Lary village, the Tour Hachan, which houses the National Park Museum, and the adjacent buildings (now the Town Hall and municipal buildings) have been beautifully restored and in Saint-Lary the "Old village" now displays a combination of wood, stone and slate. The mullioned windows are a carbon copy of those found on the Tour Hachan. The resort's symbol is The Patou, a huge Pyrenean mountain dog which was the hero of the TV series "Belle and Sebastian". Originally used to protect flocks of sheep, it stands nearly 70 cm high at the withers.

A large but typical and traditional Pyrenéan village linked by road or cable car to altitude stations ( and base of ski runs ) at La Cabane ( 1600m ) , larger Pla d'Adet ( 1700m ) and Espiaule ( 1600m ), making it, arguably, the most important ski centre in the French Pyrenées.

Mountain

St Lary's skiing is spread across three sectors totalling 100km (63 miles) of runs over 700 hectares with and an altitude range of 1700 to 2515m. Nearly 200 snow cannon cover large areas of the lopes with machine made snow when required. Those staying in the original village have direct access by gondola from Saint-Lary village centre. Saint Lary 1700 "Pla d'Adet" at the base of the slopes is dedicated to family and beginner skiing with the Snow Garden, toboggan run and "Kidpark", a fun snow sports park for budding skiers aged six to twelve years old. At Saint Lary 1900 "Espiaube" there is a greater emphasis with longer and tougher runs. These include the famous Mirabelle piste, at 3.6 km (2.25 miles), it's one of the longest runs in the Pyrenees with a vertical drop of 700 metres. The highest skiing is at Saint Lary 2400 where there's mogul and slalom stadiums, a snowpark complete with PA system and a halfpipe.

Families

Saint-Lary Soulan has been awarded "Les P'tits Montagnards" by the Ski France organisation because of its commitment to offer the very best amenities and activities for children. The day nursery is located in the resort's administrative centre in the Village centre. It caters for children aged 18 months to six years. Reservations and recommended, bring medical certifications and be aware than a BCG vaccination is compulsory. During school holidays and at weekends at the Chalet Perce Neige, the Airel Association offers a variety of courses linked with the ski schools for children aged three to twelves, by the hour or 1/2 day. On the slopes the ski schools take chilren from age four. Snow White's Garden Mini-Club is located mid-way between the amusement park and the children's garden, the Resitel Village mini club looks after its residents' children in a cosy Tyrolean chalet setting or in a genuine Trapper's log cabin in the heart of a lovely leafy park. In addition a list of baby-sitters is available from Saint-Lary Tourist Office.

Eating Out

St Lary has more than 30 places to eat, mostly divided between the original village and the altitude station at 1700, with a few others at Saint Lary 1900. Pizzerias and creperies are plentiful with five pizzerias and several creperies in the village, two of each at 1700 and a creperie at 1900. Most of the other establishments serve regional or mountain cuisine, however the Latino Café in the village serves Tex-Mex. The Pergola hotel's 'Tables Gourmandes' restaurant is one of the most highly regarded in the resort. At the Mercure Hotel's restaurants regional cuisine and health food menus are on offer. Look out for the local dish, La Garbure. This is made by salting a fresh knuckle of ham in a large saucepan of cold water 48 hours in advance. Then it is brought to the boil, the broth skimmed off, carrots, potatoes, herbs and garlic added before a further hour of cooking and a final addition - beans. Another local item is a gateau ' La Broche.' This is a large cake made with copious eggs, traditionally over an open fire, so look out for one when you visit!

Apres

Saint Lary Village has the lion's share of spots for après, although both 1700 and to a lesser extent 1900 have at least a moderate choice of eateries. However of the nine dedicated bars, eight are down in St Lary Village, the other, L Avalanche in the Galerie Armazan, is in 1700. Immediately after the ski day ends the crowds tend to congregate in bars around the base of the cable car, including the originally name Bar du Telepherique and the nearby Carre Blanc. Rue Vincent Mir is also lively with Le Kinito, Le Desman L'ICC and Bar l'Igloo a few steps apart. There are two late night spots - La Luna in the village and Xtra Dance in the Residence Armazan at 1700.

Boarding

The Quicksilver Snowpark has its own website and has won awards for its quality. It is maintained by a crew of four professional park shapers, all riders. The venue is busy throughout the season and hosts numerous events and contests. There are several snow sports arenas around St Lary including the FamilyPark, which is safe and fun for beginners; the slide park with its different handrails and modules; the snowskatepark for snow skaters; the halfpipe and the main Quicksilver Snowpark itself complete with tables, hips and big-air.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
850m
Ski area
100
Resort height
1600m
Airport
Tarbes
Train station
Lannemezan
beginner
40%
intermediate
40%
expert
20%