Encamp: Grandvalira Ski Area; Hit With Snowboarders -

The parish of Encamp comprises ski resorts of Encamp, Grau Roig, and Pas de la Casa, which - together with Canillo and Soldeu el Tarter in the neighbouring parish - make up the Grandvalira Ski Area.

Grandvalira - the biggest ski area in Andorra - boasts 193 kilometres of slopes set between 1710 and 2640 metres altitude. It is suitable for all levels of skier and snowboarder with 65 green runs, 89 blue, 85 red, and 47 black. The ski area has been modernised to include numerous snow canons, new lifts, and the three well kept snowparks.

The town of Encamp (2060 metres) is the capital of the parish and features 63 local runs (11 red, 23 blue, and 29 green) as well as access to the entire Grandvalira Ski Area. It is renowned for its reliable snowfall thanks to its lofty position. The six-kilometre-long funicular transports skiers directly from the centre town to the heart of the ski area. The village is easy to explore on foot and is lined with charming old buildings, patisseries, shops, street cafes, and restaurants serving local specialities.

Pas de la Casa (2050 metres) is one of the highest and sunniest ski resorts in the Pyrenees with the best snow record. It is renowned for its lively nightlife and young atmosphere. The village is known as Andorra's winter party capital and is particularly popular with the 18 to 30s crowd. Many start the evening with a pub crawl of 30 bars - many of which are British theme bars - before dancing into the early hours at the nightclubs. The town is not as pretty as Encamp, Soldeu or Canillo and suffers from a large collection of concrete apartment blocks from the early 70s.

The lift system from Pas stretches over the attractive mini resort of Grau Roig which often acts as the access point for Grandvalira visitors arriving by road. The linked resorts of Pas de la Casa/Grau Roig offer 100 kilometres of local slopes as well as access to the rest of the Grandvalira Ski Area. Pas de la Casa/Grau Roig is popular with the young crowd, particularly snowboarders.

Snowboarders flock to the snowpark and halfpipe Coma III in the Grau Roig area which is accessed via a new high-speed six-seater chair. Expert snowboarders prefer the ACG Snowpark Tarter near Soldeu. The British Snowboard Championships have also been held here several times. In 2000 the V Snowsurf competition took place with nearly 1000 competitors which was the largest gathering of snowboarders ever in the Pyrenees.

There is floodlit skiing every Wednesday night on the Font Negre. The ski schools in Grandvalira have a good reputation and English is spoken widely. The Grandvalira Lift Pass covers the whole area - Canillo, Encamp, Pas de la Casa/Grau Roig, and Soldeu el Tarter -and is noticeably cheaper than similar passes in France or Switzerland.

Two airports serve Andorra: Toulouse - Blagnac in France and Barcelona in Spain. Ski resorts are accessed by road; hire cars and scheduled buses are available at the airports.

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