Soldeu, Andorra: Follow in the tracks of Olympians

It can happen to the best of us and that includes Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, who crashed on the slopes of Grandvalira in Andorra during a World Cup race in 2016.

Vonn was carried off the slopes having suffered a hairline fracture of her left knee after the crash on the Aliga black that runs into El Tarter.

There are two more black runs across at Soldeu – plenty to keep the advanced skier interested.

But never fear – running alongside the three blacks are many blues and reds that help link Soldeu and El Tarter.

The main resorts of Grandvalira – along with Soldeu where we are based and El Tarter, there is Pas de la Casa and Grau Roig – all sit on the busy road that runs through the tiny country linking France and Spain.

That can make negotiating the traffic – especially laden with ski equipment – fairly hazardous in bad weather as the buses do battle with the snow diggers.

Soldeu is set on a steep hillside facing the ski area across the valley.

Mid-station from Soldeu is easily reached by gondola or chairlift where the mountain opens up ahead.

From here there are two blue runs to the left – pus two reds and two blacks – that take you back to the gondola station and chairlift.

If you take the Os blue then it’s an easy hop to the bottom of the Avet black.

RIght of the mid-station is another very gentle tree-lined blue – a road in summer – that leads to El Tarter, while up ahead are the wide open runs that lead to Pas de la Casa and Grau Roig, both reachable in a couple of hours.

The region is also home to the award-winning Grandvalira ski school where many of the instructors speak English or are English. My instructor – MIke from Wolverhampton – proves the point.

Just up the road at Grau Roig – where there are some wonderfully wide and very quiet slopes – is Rocroi where you can have a go at ‘mushing’ (dog sledding) or riding a skidoo.

Mushing (50 euros for 2km for two people) involves sitting on a long sledge pulled by around a dozen dogs with a driver behind.

The route takes you out into the snowy forest where the only sound is the voice of the driver.

The same route is used for the snowmobiles (80 euros for half-an-hour for two people) but this time you get to drive.

Rocroi has other fun snow activities, including tubing, paintballing and igloo building.

For some lively apres-ski, head for the Harp bar in Soldeu where there is live music most nights and a pint will cost 4.50 euros. Aspen down the hill is also worth a look with its upstairs pool room.

We are based at the Piolets Park and Spa, about 500m down the hill from the gondola station.

If you are going to go half-board, then make sure the food is good. And it is here with a buffet well above average for breakfast and dinner.

Each night the chefs cook fresh food in front of you – do not walk past the griddled squid.

Another bonus with the Piolets is the great spa with pool, sauna, steam room and, the real bonus, the outdoor hot tub nestled in the snow – perfect to round off a day in the Andorran mountains.

Essential info

Where: Andorra
Airports: Toulouse (2-3 hours), Barcelona (3-4 hours)
Ski region: Grandvalira
Lift pass: 6 days 249 euros; children 168-222 euros; over-70s ski free
Linked resorts: Soldeu, El Tarter, Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig
Ski Area: 210km
Eating and drinking: Pint of lager 4.50 euros, sandwich meal deal 11.50 euros, gin and tonic 7-10 euros

Fact box

Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk; 020 8939 0726) offers a week’s half board at the Hotel Piolets Park & Spa in Soldeu from £719/€869 per person including flights to Toulouse and transfers. Departures from all major UK airports available (supplement may be payable)..

(all prices based on January 2017)

Comments are closed.