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A winter guide to France

France is an extremely popular winter holiday destination, particularly for those looking to visit one of Europe’s best skiing destinations. 

The Pyrenees is home to many delightful mountain villages, with idyllic settings that are sure to entice anyone. The villages have a fantastic atmosphere and street side cafés that offer the perfect break from skiing. 
 
Some great Pyrenees towns well worth visiting include Foix, Lourdes and Sentein. Foix is south of Toulouse and boasts a superb castle (chateau), which sits atop a rocky outcrop, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Lourdes is a well renowned place of pilgrimage and sits in the shadow of the Pyrenees. It is a significant area to visit, with around four million pilgrims flocking here each year since Bernadette Soubrious had a vision of the Virgin Mary. 

Sentein is a small-fortified mountain village which is beautifully situated in the Biros valley. For lovers of the outdoors, Sentein offers a great range of short or long walks in some of the Pyrenees’ most stunning areas. 

The Pyrenees are the perfect location for those looking for an active holiday. Both skiing and walking are common in the area, with the glorious scenery offering something for everyone to enjoy. 

Lower levels of the Pyrenees contain meadows, mixed woodland and the idyllic villages of the Pays Toy. To enter the National Park and the superb Néouvielle region you need to head south, where you are greeted by around one hundred lakes. The same footpath also passes Barèges and Saint-Jean-de-Luz for those looking to enjoy a longer trip. 

Night skiier on Les Arcs  French Alps
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Barèges is also a great destination for those looking for fantastic skiing facilities. It is a traditional Napoleonic spa village and contains the largest ski area in the Pyrenees. This is part of the Domaine du Tourmalet ski region and has over 100kms of runs, rivalling the largest Alpine resorts. These resorts offer great skiing for all abilities, covering beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. 

All you need to enjoy a skiing holiday in France is a good pair of snow boots and a sense of adventure, with the resorts ensuring there is something to keep everyone entertained. 
 
Backcountry skier
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If you are a first time skier, then you may be unsure over what you need. There is a vast selection of ski equipment available, covering everything from jackets to the skis themselves.

The most important thing to remember is that these items are an investment. They are designed to offer you both comfort and protection, making it essential that you purchase them before your trip. Ski poles, or stocks, and skis are the most important items. Stocks should be long enough to reach your waist and skis should be tailored to your specific needs. Look for items which have straps to keep them on securely.

Alongside the equipment, a range of clothing should also be considered. Ski jackets are important, not just for protection against the cold weather, but also for the padding they contain to limit the damage caused by falls. 

Ensure you have gloves, socks, goggles and ski trousers in addition to your ski jacket to get the most out of the slopes. Boots should also be purchased and should have a snug but unrestrictive fit. 

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Latest update:  February 7, 2012