If you have ever been to the Alps, you cannot compare the skiing available nearby in the Pyrenees (try going to Andorra in that case). Within three hours from Bordeaux (or Bazas) you can get a wintery experience at either of these nearby locations.*
Gourette : A small, low altitude, affordable, family ski village created in the 1960’s with a good selection of trails
The instructors are really great with kids and introduction lessons for 3-4 year old kids with Ecole du Ski Francais start at 61 EURO for 2×2 hour courses during the weekend. An adult ski pass costs 37.50 EURO for the day. Secured parking is also very reasonable. Adult ski rental equipment from SkiSet starts at 18 EURO a day (13.50 if booked in advance online).
The restaurant selection is OK, you can get cheese fondue with morelles at La Quebotte if you book in advance. Lots of garbure (traditional Gasconne soup) and even palombe are on offer, depending where you dine. There is the Maison Casaux, a cute coffee shop with patisserie, decorated in skiing antiques and mountain bric-a-brac.
There didn’t seem to be an particular hotel but lots of apartment rentals and chalets. There are groceries, cheese shops, bakery and a butcher by foot.
The bad – Outside of skiing, there is not much to do.
Saint Lary Soulan : A charming mountain village with slopes for families and experienced skiers, spas and thermal indoor pools.
The good + Saint Lary and its 58 pistes has a snow park and toboggan run, but so much more…so it’s a great place to go if you have people in your group who don’t want to ski.
There are lessons with ESF for beginners under 5 years, starting at 36 EURO for one 2-hour lesson. Ski passes can be booked online and start at 44 EURO for an adult day pass. Most hotels have free parking and there is plenty on the street as well.
The main town of Saint Lary has a good selection of shops and little stores to buy the gateau a la broche – a delicious cookie/cake that is cooked over an open fire and resembles a pine tree. There is a great selection of restaurants serving everything from galettes to local beef, even wine bars for socializing like Le Balthazar.
My favorite place to stay in the town is the Mercure Sensoria, they have a NUXE spa and decent restaurant attached, lovely lounge area with fire place for after skiing and are just at the bottom of the tele-cabin to the slopes. They are great with kids and offer a small play area with PlayStation and sitting area to read their books. Prices can be as low as 200 EURO a night for a family, but go up in season and tend to book fast. They also offer a pool and play area with thermal spa waters, which is also available to the public.
The bad – It is more expensive than Gourette for the basics and most everything is in the village if you don’t want to ski.