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Great skiing in 'Toyland'!!

Luz Ardiden

Luz Ardiden has 65 kilometres of pistes and 14 chairlifts that cover the area around Luz Saint Sauveur, and the resort ranks among the top 3 Hautes Pyrenees ski resorts. Created in 1975, Luz was formerly handicapped by its ageing equipment, but large investments in recent years have significantly changed the picture.
As it sits at the end of a valley, the influx of tourists tends to be reasonable. Its distance is both an advantage and a disadvantage as the long trip can be quite tiring. On the other hand, what wouldn’t we do for wonderful Luz Ardiden, a resort that gets loads of exposure to sun, which means we do too!
Luz Ardiden: all about Toy!
Luz is the capital of the region known as Toy, which is not only famous for its king of cakes (gâteaux à la broche) but also for its inhabitants that are said to be the shortest and the most stubborn in France! Victor Hugo spoke about their kindness and their common sense, and warned his readers not to mention bears, a topic that was more or less taboo!
The word Toy doesn’t sound very French, but in fact means child or small. In the middle of the 19th century, Toy also meant a man who wished to marry. Nowadays, ‘toy’ in French means a small man, or a not very streetwise country bumpkin.
The relatively large region of Toy stretches from the Pierrefitte Gorges to the Tourmalet Pass and the Gavarnie Circus.
Make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything and that your equipment is in tip top condition when you set off for Luz Ardiden because you won’t find a single shop when you get there, just a few restaurants. Too bad if your snowboard has lost half its screws, or if you left your ski sticks back at the hotel or, even worse, the baby’s bottle… you'll just have to trek back the 15km to Luz Saint Sauveur valley. There are two big car parks in the resort, which means it can get quite busy in high season. A shuttle system saves drivers who’re parked quite far from having to walk a long way in ski shoes. Even better, the resort has launched the "Génie de Luz" scheme, which will send someone out to help you if you can’t attach your snow chains or if you need help with the children and the ski equipment: Génie de Luz: +33 (0)562923270.
Skiing
Luz Ardiden covers three slopes: Aulian, Bederet and Cloze, which are all easy to get to thanks to the high speed lifts. However, as there are no linking pistes, snowboarders often have to take off their snowboard and carry them under their arms when they change piste! The pistes are pretty wide and easy to get to. The 28 pistes cover 65 km in total and include 4 black pistes, 18 red, 3 blue and 3 green. The ski area stretches from 1780 m to 2500 metres in altitude, which is perfect for long-lasting and good quality snow. The 115 snow guns can cover around fifty hectares. Luz is also renowned for its rapid chairlift flow, which is one of the fastest in the Pyrenees. The short wait has even become a strong sales pitch, achieved in part thanks to the 6-pack in the Bederet sector that can move 6 skiers every 10 seconds.
Luz Ardiden snow park
The snow park in Luz has changed a lot over the last few years. It is managed by H.o.5 park, a company that specialises in developing Freestyle spaces. Here you’ll find different levels of mogul (6 m, 8 m, 12 m) and a great jib area with 7 slide bars and a table top. The icing on the cake is the magic carpet that will help beginners to enjoy the snow without having to take the dreaded ski lift, a real nightmare for budding snowboarders.
A space for beginners
Luz is ideal for beginners. It has great snow conditions and a fantastic climate for relaxing as the weather is nearly always good, and the beginners’ space stretches out like a tempting white carpet. There are no nasty surprises as the area is well marked out with 5 pistes, 4 chairlifts and a magic carpet, providing a safe and reassuring environment for first-timers.
Another advantage is that the ski pass is free for under 6-year olds (under 5-year olds in most other resorts…) but you need to have some form of proof. Log onto N'PY for more information about the children’s special offer.
High altitude skiing around Bederet and Ardiden
There are some great off-piste opportunities in Luz too, especially around Bederet and the Cloze Pass, the highest spot in the resort at 2500 metres altitude, which you can get to with the Cloze chairlift. Naturally, these are unmarked areas and it goes without saying that you should always check the avalanche and snow reports first, and take a shovel, probe and beacon with you.

What’s new in Luz Ardiden?
There are 2 new red pistes, the Marmottes and the Bruyères (one for the Caperette chairlift and another for the Béderet high speed lift).
Snowtubing in Aulian: descend the runs on a tube. Ice skating in the village of Luz St Sauveur; entrance is included with the ski pass.
Cross-country skiing: Luz has a free 5-kilometre circuit.
In 2011, the Ski Toy, one of the oldest ski clubs in France, celebrated its centenary in Luz Ardiden: its long life bears witness to the dynamism of Haut Pyrenean skiing.
The Luz Spa
Your Luz ski pass also includes entrance to Luzea centre, the famous Luz Saint Sauveur spa, which has a 32° C source, rich in baregine sulphur and rare gases, elements that have proven beneficial for treating respiratory, venous and gynaecological problems. A health cure in Luz can be an effective alternative to medicine and surgery…The centre is open to everyone (not just those booked in for a cure) so you can take advantage of the pleasures of a balneo bath in the mountains in a setting that will take you back to the turn of the 19th century. The spa buildings are fantastic, built in neoclassical style with mosaics, conservatory and incredibly high ceilings... It wouldn’t surprise you if Napoleon III suddenly turned up with Princess Eugenie, or else George Sand, Flaubert or Alfred de Vigny, who were all frequent visitors to Luz and its spa.
Practical information
Getting to Luz Ardiden
By car, 44 km from Lourdes, then count a 15 km/30 min drive between Luz Saint Sauveur and the resort
By train, Lourdes station at 37 km, then the rest by bus.
By plane, Lourdes/Ossun or Pau airport.

Accommodation
You’ll find around 80 owner direct holiday rentals in Luz Ardiden and the surrounding area on the MediaHols.com website. Get a bird’s eye view of some of them on VillascOpic.com.
You can find other articles on Pyrenees resorts at Winter-sports.com. Check out the articles on Baqueira, Gavarnie, Andorra, Cauterets and Grand Tourmalet
Photos: E. Beallet
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