Whether you are in the South-West, North or East Valley, the landscape is superb, sometimes vertiginous and abrupt, sometimes open and bucolic, even Mediterranean in some places. The panoramas are amazing and the high altitude lakes are of natural beauty. In Andorra, almost 90% of the territory, composed of mountains and forests, is unspoilt by any urbanization. Protection measures have been taken to protect the environment. The natural parks of the Comapedrosa Valley and the Sorteny Valley protect biodiversity that is often endemic to the Pyrenees. As for the Madriu Valley, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, thanks to its subtle blend of wilderness and culture.
Hotels in gogo :
Andorra knows how to welcome its tourists as it should. The principality has an astonishing hotel capacity for its size, no less than 200 tourist accommodation classified from 0 to 5 stars and very well equipped. The quality of the equipment is also found in sports centres. They are ultra-complete complexes, very well integrated in towns and villages, often equipped with swimming pools, fitness centres, team sports fields, climbing walls, Spas for 4 and 5 stars... A true summary of well-being in the heart of the mountain! And because tourism must be accessible to all, Andorran hotels have facilities adapted to people with disabilities (ramps, elevators...). Finally, many hotels are suitable for family stays, and most of the time, children benefit from discounts or even free accommodation. In short, everything to make life easier for tourists.
Just 2 hours from Toulouse, Andorra is an ideal destination for a nature getaway. Nestled in the heart of the Pyrenees, its wild mountains stimulate hikers to enjoy the pleasure of discovery. Andorra has 3 long-distance hiking trails (GRP, GR7 and GR11) and a large number of high-mountain huts where you can take breaks. It also offers ecotourism tours of varying difficulty, allowing you to discover the fauna and flora of the main natural areas. To find out everything, a guide to hiking routes is available in the tourist offices. Andorra thus offers kilobars of pure oxygen to be sucked up happily by crapahutting along the forests, high altitude lakes and peaks. Whether it is through quiet walks or real sports hikes, you will discover at the same time the natural and cultural heritage of the high small country. Thus, walk from natural panoramas to cultural landscapes such as the Sorteny Valley Natural Park, the Madriu Valley, and many others.
The ski paradise
When you are lucky enough to have mountains as your daily landscape, when mountainside construction has almost become child's play (judging by the sometimes unreal emergence of certain hotels and houses perched high up), when you do not hesitate to move or cross the same mountains to build less tortuous roads... in short, when you know how to tame the mountain to make it an ally, you can only continue on this path. Who, then, better than the Andorrans, could enhance original forms to make them areas of relaxation and leisure? Thus the Principality has naturally become a ski country with 2 large ski areas over an area of 300 km of snow in winter: Grandvalira (the largest in the Pyrenees) and Vallnord (the most authentic). Cross-country skiing is also possible at the Naturlandia leisure park in the Rabassa forest.
Andorra offers the best in mountain sports. In harmony with its landscape, the Principality prides itself on being able to offer high quality sites. When the winter season comes to an end, Andorra does not fall asleep... In spring and summer, cyclists will be able to enjoy themselves to their hearts' content, with beautiful bike rides more or less easy across paths in the heart of the green valleys. Mountain bike enthusiasts will be delighted. Large areas have been specially developed: Grandvalira Mountain Bike Park, Vallnord Bike Park, Naturlandia Bike Park and the "360º extrem", an indoor freestyle centre located in Andorra la Vella.
Stores, cigarettes, alcohol, perfumes, ski resorts... It's true! But Andorra is also a country that has managed to preserve its heritage, to be discovered through museums. Some twenty museums invite you to discover Andorran history and culture: the Tobacco Museum and the Rossell Forge, representative of the Andorran economy; the Cristo, Rull and Areny-Plandolit house-museums, which bear witness to the ancient agricultural way of life; the Casa de la Vall or the Meritxell Sanctuary, emblematic historical buildings; the Museum of Sacred Art, the Museum of Miniature; the National Automobile Museum, the Museum of 2-Wheelers, Perfumes, Water or the Postal Museum, symbols of the Principality's particular signs; the Romanesque Art Interpretation Centre, the Cortinada Nature Centre and the Escaldes-Engordany Art Centre, explanatory landmarks of the landscape... Moreover, these museums, often ultra modern and ingenious, are accessible at very affordable prices, so there is no excuse to deprive yourself of Andorran culture!
However small it may be, Andorra has never had an identity complex: firmly rooted in history, the Principality obtained its unique status in the 13th century, or well before the French Republic! This small landlocked country has all the good reasons to have preserved strong traditions that are reflected in gastronomy, popular festivals, lifestyle and architecture. We are not here in Spain, France or Catalonia: we are in Andorra, the land of princes. It is up to you to unravel the mysteries of this very special Andorran identity....
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette