Pyrenean ski resorts can, in some ways, work better than larger Alpine resorts for families. Smaller children and beginners don’t need the vast snow playgrounds of the Trois Vallées or Portes du Soleil ski areas, and this is also a place where you can probably allow older children a little bit more independence while knowing they’re not going to get stuck in the wrong valley when the lifts close.
Part of the Pyrénées-Orientales in the Occitanie region, Les Angles is the only resort in the Pyrenees where you can ski all the way down into the old, traditional village. Modern buildings have sprung up too, as the resort has expanded, but part of the village retains the charm of its old buildings and winding streets. The fact that there are three lifts up from the village to the slopes (including a bubble) also means the queues are never too long.
"The blacks are ideal with teens who want something challenging and the
feeling of being off-piste without you having to go with them when your skiing
isn’t really up to it, or having to worry about their safety."
There are 55km of pistes made up of 45 runs, but because the terrain is varied and the pistes spread out, the resort somehow feels larger than it actually is. For very little ones, there’s a magic carpet and the Bambi chairlift to the top of a gentle green run (this area can also be accessed on foot).
There are plenty of nice wide blue and red runs for showing off your carving, or for those who fancy something more challenging, three black runs that fall within the ‘supervised’ ski area and can be accessed by lifts but are un-pisted. These are ideal for those who, like me, have teenage children who want something challenging and the feeling of being off-piste without you actually having to go with them when your skiing isn’t really up to it, or having to worry too much about their safety.
The resort rises to 2,400m, with 60% above 2,000m and 363 show cannons covering 70% of the resort. One of the most special things about the resort is the number of trees. With so many pistes being tree-lined, it’s very pretty, has ample opportunity for skiing in the trees and has better visibility when the weather isn’t so good.
If you want a break from skiing, there’s a 37-hectare animal park where native Pyrenean animals including bears and wolves live in semi-freedom. You can also go to the cinema, play on the (covered) merry-go-round, go bowling or try snake gliss (a kind of linked sledges).
At lunchtime we ate at the altitude restaurant Le Chalet – a cosy self-service affair a good cut above most I’ve been to, with a huge range of salads, fresh pasta to match with home-made sauces of your choice, and steaks cooked on a wood-fired grill.
Another option for eating on the slopes is the hors sac (picnic) room. In most resorts, these are soulless places, but here, hidden behind a 1970s exterior, there’s an open-fire grill where you can cook any food you take along, as well as a sunny terrace.
Most of the restaurants in the resort itself are very family friendly. Kids particularly enjoy La Grange with its huge variety of sweet and savoury crêpes, as well as a variety of other dishes including cheese fondue and tartiflette.
We stayed at the L'Etoile du Berger, which offers attractive, much larger-than-average ski apartments for up to six, with kitchenettes. A nice touch is that for short stays, fresh bread and croissants are delivered to your door every morning, and other bits you need (butter, jam, coffee etc) are already in the apartment. There’s also a little hut with a sauna and Jacuzzi, which is included in the price (for adults and older teens only) but can be booked privately – a lovely end to a day on the slopes.
Read more about family holidays in the French Pyrenees and check out our picks for the best family ski holidays and winter sports breaks with children of all ages.