Saint-Lary-Soulan | Ski Resort Review

9 Jul 20239 min
By Arjen Hartman
Mountain Range in Saint Lary Soulan, France. Photograph by Tim Oun, Unsplash

Saint-Lary-Soulan is a large, traditional Pyrenéan resort at 830m with slopes spread over three areas Pla d’Adet, Espiaube and Vallon du Portet, making it one of the most important ski centres in the French Pyrenées.

Saint Lary Soulan – Overview

The original village, located in the heart of the Pyrenees and the Aure valley, dates back thousands of years. Today it offers a relaxed way of life amidst well-preserved wood, stone and slate architecture. On the slopes, however, facilities are more up to date. Before skiing came along in 1957, the resort was mostly famous for its thermal springs. The Thermal Baths of Saint-Lary are located in the village centre, in a beautiful, landscaped park opened in 1988, and offer state-of-the-art facilities. Next door, the Sensoria care centre offers pools, solarium, beauty salon and fitness centre.

There are special services for families, events throughout the season and plenty of accommodation, restaurants and shops! In the centre of Saint-Lary village, The Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House) hosts a museum, an event room, a shop and a media center. Also in the centre, at the foot of the Hachan Tower and the town hall, the Maison du Parc National (the National Park Centre) was enlarged and completely renovated in 2014 and makes for an interesting visit.

Ski Resort Highlights

Ski area
Apres ski
Ski area: 100km
Summit: 2515m
Resort height: 1700m
Altitude range: 1700-2515m
Vertical drop: 815m
Parks: 2
Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport (1h 20min)
Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (2h)
Train stations:
Lannemezan (40min)

Saint Lary Soulan – Ski Map & Pistes

Saint-Lary's skiing is spread across three sectors totalling 100km (63 miles) of runs over 700 hectares, with an altitude range of 1,700 to 2,515m. More than 300 snow cannons cover large areas of the slopes. The original village has direct access to the slopes by cable car and a new gondola, in less than eight minutes.

Declared a Family Plus Mountain resort by Ski France, Saint-Lary is an ideal destination for families. Saint-Lary 1700 Pla d'Adet at the base of the slopes is dedicated to family and beginner skiing with the Snow Garden, toboggan run and Kidpark, as well as a ski school and a daycare centre. The green Piste de l'Echarpe is an easy run down to the Cabane sector, bordered by a walkway from where parents can keep an eye on their children’s progress.

Saint-Lary 1900 Espiaube is a mainly intermediate area with some longer and tougher runs. These include the famous Mirabelle piste, which at 3.6 km is one of the longest runs in the Pyrenees with a vertical drop of 700 metres.

The highest skiing is at Saint-Lary 2400 Vallon du Portet, which offers a wide range of pistes, an extraordinary 360° view of the Pyrenees, boardercross, the Col du Portet snowpark and a halfpipe. Another attraction is the Oule skiing refuge reached either on foot or via lifts. The refuge is at the edge of the ski domain and at the gates of the Pyrenees National Park, near Lake Oule. 

2023 Skimap of Saint-Lary Soulan in FranceSkimap of the Saint-Lary ski resort. Click on image for the large and interactive version.

Saint Lary Soulan – Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:

Venturing into the off-piste terrain of the Saint-Lary area is an exhilarating experience for adventurous skiers and snowboarders. As you leave the groomed slopes behind, a world of untamed powder, untouched lines, and uncharted descents awaits. The vastness of the Pyrenees Mountains reveals itself as you carve through pristine snow, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. With careful exploration and respect for safety measures, you can find hidden pockets of fresh powder, steep chutes, and wide-open bowls that provide an adrenaline rush and a sense of freedom that only off-piste skiing can deliver.

For those seeking a deeper connection with nature and a true escape into the wilderness, backcountry skiing in the Saint-Lary area offers a captivating experience. Strapping on your touring skis or splitboard, you embark on a journey beyond the boundaries of the ski resort, exploring the untracked slopes and serene landscapes. As you ascend through peaceful forests and climb the peaks, you are rewarded with panoramic views that stretch across the Pyrenees. The solitude and tranquillity of the backcountry create a profound sense of connection with the mountains, while the descents through untouched snow bring a sense of purity and serenity to your skiing experience.

Ski touring in the Saint-Lary area combines the best of both worlds, blending the joys of exploring the backcountry with the convenience of the established ski routes. Equipped with lightweight touring gear, you embark on a journey of discovery, ascending the slopes at your own pace. With each step, you immerse yourself in the natural rhythms of the mountains, feeling the burn in your muscles and the anticipation of what lies ahead. As you reach the summits, you are greeted by breathtaking vistas, rewarded for your efforts with unforgettable views that extend as far as the eye can see. The descents become a thrilling and harmonious dance between skier and mountain, as you navigate the varied terrain, linking turns with grace and precision.

These experiences of off-piste skiing, backcountry skiing, and ski touring in the Saint-Lary area offer unique opportunities to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and discover the raw beauty of the Pyrenees Mountains. Whether you choose to explore untracked powder, venture into the untouched wilderness, or embark on a ski touring adventure, Saint-Lary provides a playground for those seeking unforgettable experiences on the snow-covered slopes.

Saint Lary Soulan – Restaurants, Bars & The Town:

Saint-Lary has around 30 places to eat, mostly divided between the original village and the altitude station at 1700, with a few others at Saint-Lary 1900.

When it comes to dining in Saint-Lary, visitors have a range of options to satisfy their culinary cravings. From traditional French cuisine to regional specialties, there are several restaurants that offer delightful dining experiences.

The restaurant La Pergola is one of the most highly regarded in the resort, along with "La Mangeoire" at the Hotel Mercure.

Another highly recommended restaurant is "Le Chalet" which serves up delectable dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Its cozy atmosphere and attentive service make it a popular choice among visitors.

For those seeking a taste of regional cuisine, "Le Montagnard" is a must-visit. Known for its authentic Pyrenean dishes, this restaurant provides a warm and inviting ambiance, allowing guests to savour hearty mountain flavours. The menu features classics such as cassoulet, garbure (a traditional soup), and various meat and cheese platters that showcase the rich gastronomic heritage of the region.

When it comes to après-ski and enjoying a drink with friends or fellow skiers, Saint-Lary-Soulan has the lion's share of spots for après. There are several lively bars and establishments. Immediately after the ski day ends the Top Ski Bar grabs skiers coming off the slopes, while Rue Vincent Mir is also lively with Le Kinito and L'ICC always busy.

"Bar La Descente" is a popular spot to unwind after a day on the slopes. With its vibrant atmosphere, friendly staff, and a wide selection of beverages, it offers a great place to socialize and share stories of the day's adventures.

Another notable bar in Saint-Lary is "Bar Le P'tit Lounge." This cozy and stylish establishment provides a relaxed setting to enjoy a drink or two. Its comfortable seating, warm ambiance, and friendly bartenders create a welcoming environment for visitors to wind down and enjoy their evening.

The overall après-ski experience in Saint-Lary is known for its pleasant and lively atmosphere. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, visitors can gather at various bars and establishments, sharing stories and enjoying the après-ski ambiance. The village exudes a charming and friendly atmosphere, offering a range of options for relaxation and entertainment.

Saint Lary Soulan – Ski Hire:

Saint-Lary offers visitors a range of ski hire options to choose from. Whether you're an experienced skier or a beginner, there are ski hire companies in Saint-Lary that can provide you with the right equipment to suit your needs. Some of the most popular ski hire companies in Saint-Lary include SkiSet, Intersport, and Sport 2000.

SkiSet is a well-known ski rental company with numerous locations throughout various ski resorts, including Saint-Lary. They offer a wide selection of equipment for all skill levels and ages, from skis and snowboards to boots and helmets. SkiSet prides itself on providing well-maintained and high-quality gear, along with professional and knowledgeable staff to assist with the rental process.

Intersport is another reputable ski hire company that operates in many ski resorts, including Saint-Lary. They offer a range of ski and snowboard equipment suitable for different preferences and abilities. Intersport focuses on customer service, providing personalized assistance to help you choose the right gear based on your skill level and preferences.

Sport 2000 is a network of independent ski rental shops that you may find in Saint-Lary. These shops typically offer a variety of equipment options and often have competitive pricing. Sport 2000 emphasizes customer satisfaction, aiming to provide a hassle-free rental experience with knowledgeable staff available to help you find the best equipment for your needs.

Here are some of the top ski rental companies in Saint-Lary-Soulan and their website URLs:


Saint Lary Soulan – Ski Schools:

Saint-Lary ski resort offers a range of ski schools that cater to beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers alike. These ski schools provide professional instruction, ensuring a safe and enjoyable learning experience on the slopes.

One of the most popular ski schools in Sain-Lary is the ESF (École du Ski Français), it is a renowned ski school operating in numerous ski resorts, including Saint-Lary. With a team of qualified instructors, ESF offers group lessons and private tuition for skiers of all ages and abilities. Their instructors provide expert guidance, helping beginners learn the basics, improving technique for intermediate skiers, and refining skills for advanced riders.

The ESI (École de Ski Internationale) is an international ski school that has a presence in Saint-Lary. Their instructors are trained to cater to skiers of various nationalities and offer a diverse range of programs. ESI focuses on creating a fun and supportive environment, allowing students to progress at their own pace and build confidence on the slopes.

In addition to larger ski school organisations, there may be independent ski schools operating within the Saint-Lary resort. These schools may have their own unique names and offerings. Independent ski schools often provide personalised instruction, flexible scheduling, and specialized programs tailored to specific needs or interests.

Ski schools in Saint-Lary typically offer lessons in different languages, including English, French, and possibly other languages depending on instructor availability. They provide a structured approach to learning, focusing on technique, safety, and mountain awareness. Whether you're a beginner looking to master the basics or an experienced skier aiming to refine your skills, the ski schools in Saint-Lary are designed to support your progression on the slopes.

Here are some of the top ski schools in Saint-Lary-Soulan and their website URLs:

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