The second part of our French Pyrenees ski resort road trip was to visit Les Angles, just a 20 minute drive from Font Romeu. We were moving onto Ax Les Thermes after our day on the slopes, so this article is a Les Angles snowboarding review plus a little about the eventful drive to Ax.
Driving from Font Romeu to Les Angles the first thing we saw was a very steep looking run heading into town. We parked in a big, free car park near the Pelerins gondola and got ready to hit the slopes.
The Les Angles ski area is made up of four zones, Pla Del Mir, Bigorre, Jassettes and Balcere. There are 55km of runs with 800m of vertical from 1600m to 2400m. There are 45 runs made up of fourteen green, nine blue, fourteen red and eight blacks.
We started by taking the Pelerins gondola up to the centre of the Bigorre area. On the way up the mountain the gondola followed the Lou Bac black run we had seen on the drive in, it looked steep and fun, but unfortunately it was closed due to a lack of snow.
The gondola bought us out to a rather flat plateau area with just enough gradient to be a green slope. We headed to the left, as you look at the piste map, to do a few runs in the Pla Del Mir area which gets the sun first in the morning, it was a nice easy start to this Les Angles snowboarding review.
This area is mainly fairly wide, but not quite motorway style, tree lined blue and red runs. Although the runs are not steep enough to take your breath away the view will. Looking back towards the town there is a great view of Matemale lake and the old town all framed by the Spanish Pyrenees in the distance.
Finding ourselves back in the Bigorre area we took the Cabanes drag lift up a little higher to explore this area. I enjoyed the Mermet red, which continues to the base, and we stopped at the Llaret drag lift that takes you up to the Balcere area.
The Llaret button lift proved to be a tad lively, actually lifting me off the floor on take off. It was long, fast, fairly steep and a bit bouncy. I was glad I had strapped both feet in as it is not an easy drag and all but advanced snowboarders may struggle.
The Balcere area is also serviced by the Peborny drag which is just as lively and difficult, and the Col Rogue drag which I can’t report on as it was closed when we were there. If you don’t fancy the Llaret drag, you can take the slow Roc d’Aurd chairlift which starts from a little lower, it takes you to the same point on the mountain but takes longer.
Although difficult to access Balcere was my favourite area in Les Angles. At the top there was a little fresh snow to play in, and piste conditions were very good. The eight excellent reds runs were all very quiet, be sure to carry pace into the flat cat track out at the bottom. We explored some of the off-piste through the trees, plus there is an un-pisted route from the top of Mont Llaret.
The only area I have not talked about is Jassettes, it’s to the right of the plateau at the top of the Pelerins gondola, including the runs down to the base. The excellent Mermet red that I mentioned earlier goes through here all the way to the bottom. There is also a wide green to the bottom, plus a large dedicated beginners area with a covered travelator and an nice easy drag.
There is a snowpark in the ski area which has blue, red and black features, however it was closed when we were there. Apparently they also have a half pipe, so although I didn’t get to experience it I would say the Les Angles is good for freestylers.
I had a very good day boarding, but being honest for this Les Angles snowboarding review, it’s not the easiest resort to get around. If I was here for a week the lively drag lifts, which left my inner thigh hurting after one day, would become a real chore. Also the flat bits on the Plateau and Pla Del Mir areas were frustrating.
Les Angles has a great beginner area and good green runs. However intermediate snowboarders may struggle as most of the red runs are accessed through the difficult, and to be honest, painful button lifts. Advanced snowboarders will enjoy the challenging runs and off-piste.
Departing Les Angles our satnav suggested we take a route through the ski area on an obviously closed mountain pass. This should have served up as a warning, but when Satnav suggested we go the opposite direction to that we expected, we should have ignored it.
But we were lured in by the chance of a quicker route, to Ax Les Thermes. By the time we reached the first big red FERME (closed) sign it was too far to go back, satnav replotted another route and another pass. This happened four times, and each time the road became narrower, windier, scarier and less travelled.
Eventually we found a way across the mountains, over what we shall call the scenic satnav route. It added around an hour to our journey but what’s a Pyrenees ski resort road trip without a little adventure?
In comparison to Font Romeu, Les Angles has a lot more challenging runs. This makes is a more appealing resort for advanced skiers and snowboarders. However, flat bits and lively drag lifts make it difficult and uncomfortable to get around for snowboarders, which is a pity as there are great runs.
Would I return? Yes certainly, but probably only for a day or two. I would love to check out the snow park, and do the steep black into town. I probably wouldn’t go there with my family, as my wife is an intermediate and she’d be bored with the easy stuff but would struggle with the lively button lifts.
To conclude this Les Angles snowboarding review I’d say it would be a great ski area for complete beginners or for advanced snowboarders. It would also be well worth a visit if you are on a Pyrenees ski resort road trip.
For £76pp you can stay for 7 nights at Le Clos des Fontaneilles which is 600m from the slopes and town centre. If you like the sound of my Les Angles snowboarding review, and would like to plan your own Pyrenees ski resort road trip, I recommend you check out Pyrenees Collection: www.pyreneescollection.co.uk