Pas De La Casa Travel Guide
Pas de la Casa © Victor Vic, Flickr
In the last decade or so the tiny mountain principality of Andorra, atop the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has become a world favourite for winter sports enthusiasts, helped along by its good snow, sunny clear weather and duty-free status. Another plus is the fact that the tiny country's mountain resorts are just a short hop (109 miles or 175km) from Barcelona International Airport, and close to the French border.
Pick of the Andorra holiday resorts is Pas de la Casa, the highest of the bunch with the largest skiing area, well-served by a hi-tech lift system which has been linked to the nearby Soldeu resort, providing about 116 miles (186km) of pistes suited to all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Snow conditions here are excellent, well maintained with top-notch snowmaking, and the resort rarely closes before April. Pas de la Casa, or 'Pas' as it is fondly known by loyal regulars, can hardly be described as picturesque, consisting mainly of modern, unattractive box-like apartment blocks and hotels, but all the accommodation and facilities are conveniently situated for the slopes and provide all the trappings necessary for a rollicking winter holiday at affordable prices.
Pas de la Casa, like the rest of Andorra, stands out as one of the world's best duty-free shopping enclaves, its shopping precinct a gold mine of holiday bargains. There are, of course, sports shops for snow gear like the multi-storey Olympia Esports, but shoppers here also stock up on electronic goods at establishments like Florencia; perfumes and cosmetics, designer clothing, photographic equipment and car and motorbike accessories from tyres to leathers. British visitors revel in the tax-free tobacco, alcohol and fuel.
With more than 60 restaurants cooking up a storm in and around the Pas de la Casa holiday resort, no one working up an appetite on the slopes need go hungry. Local cuisine is largely Spanish (with paella as a favourite) but there are plenty of French influences on the local menus. For views of the competition action and competitive boarding courses, one can even dine on high (2,200m up), with many restaurants on the slopes offering panoramic views and delicious meals, while dozens more cafes and restaurants in town offering everything from quick snacks to gourmet delights.
Pas de la Casa stands out as one of the clubbing and bar havens of Europe, keeping the young crowd hopping and bopping through the night with throbbing music and cheap drinks. Local bars extend 'happy hour' to extremes and some have even been known to reward good customers with free drinks. Another thrill is to enjoy floodlit night-time skiing on the Font Negre piste.
Skiing and boarding in Pas de la Casa caters for everyone from the absolute beginner to advanced competition experts, with nursery slopes just above the resort, about 23 red runs and 13 black runs. Alternative snow fun on offer includes snow-mobiling and tobogganing. There is plenty to do when you need time out from the slopes, with a gym, indoor and outdoor pool, movies, ten-pin bowling, snow-shoeing and hiking just some of the options. Nearby there is a spa offering thermal baths, or take excursions to try out the facilities in nearby resorts.
The village is not much to look at and can become quite rowdy after dark. Not the best place for a family holiday with young children.