Visitor reviews for Ax 3 Domaines Ski Resort
December 05, 2017
David from France
I have been taking my family to Ax for 6 years now. It is a lovely ancient thermal spa town in the Pyrenees with bags of history and a ski resort above the town. There is a great market twice a week; lots of small independent shops and restaurants and plenty of characterful places to stay. The resort itself is compact and very family-friendly, but still has 75km of pistes to suit all ages and abilities. It is less chi-chi than the alps, less banging than Andorra, and cheaper than both in terms of lift passes and ski hire. If you avoid French school holidays it isn't very crowded either. There are pistes up to 2400m and plenty of snow cannons as well, so the conditions are generally good. There are also lots of other great winter sports activities available, such as: dog sledding, Nordic skiing, ski-joering, snow trekking, ice climbing, sledging, & snow biking.
Just a quick note regarding an older review: there is a now a bypass around the town that takes out the through-traffic on its way to Andorra, so the town centre is much quieter and easy to navigate even in high season. There is a Park & Ride scheme that operates between the railway station and the ski resort, and there are navettes (minibuses) that run between several of the outlying villages and the resort. There is also extensive (free) parking at the resort itself.
Ax 3 Domaines Ratings
Overall: 3.9. Based on 8 votes and 12 reviews. Vote
(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Ax 3 Domaines.
Public Transport: 4.3
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Ax 3 Domaines, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Ax 3 Domaines, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 4.3
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 2.4
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Ax 3 Domaines.
Ski in/Ski out: 3.6
(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Ax 3 Domaines, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Ax 3 Domaines is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Ax 3 Domaines relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 3.8
(1) There are no snow groomers at Ax 3 Domaines, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Ax 3 Domaines are groomed daily.
(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Ax 3 Domaines is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 4.0
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Ax 3 Domaines, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.
Regional rating: 4.2
(1) Ax 3 Domaines usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.
Lift Staff: 4.3
(1) The staff at Ax 3 Domaines are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Ax 3 Domaines are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.
Ski Schools: 4.0
(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.
Hire and Repairs: 4.7
(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.
Variety of pistes: 4.3
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Ax 3 Domaines has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Ax 3 Domaines, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.
Snow Park: 3.0
(1) Not even a kicker at Ax 3 Domaines, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Ax 3 Domaines, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Ax 3 Domaines has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 4.2
(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.
(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.
(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.
Other Sports: 2.6
(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.
(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.
Winter Walks: 4.2
(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.
Ski Pass Value: 4.2
(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.
Value (National): 4.2
(1) Overall, Ax 3 Domaines is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.
Value (Global): 4.2
(1) Overall, Ax 3 Domaines is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.
February 17, 2015
lynne from United Kingdom
December 2014: Ax Les Thermes is a great resort with some great value for money accommodation and great skiing for all abilities served adequately by the gondola and chairlifts. We stayed there for a full week in Feb 2013; fabulous. We have also driven in from our home to ski on a daily basis; Christmas and New Year 2013, again, great.
This was our second New Year of driving as we did last year. We drove in to ski but this time on a daily basis. Unfortunately, so did half the population of France on the both days we tried between Christmas and New Year. Sadly, there is almost no parking and the whole town, on both days, was gridlocked, it taking over 2 hours to drive the final 2 miles only to have to leave again without skiing as there was no parking. The roads had not been cleared and the police, directing the traffic, were all stood in one spot.
The current system is definitely broken and should be serviced by a one way system, adequate parking and a park and ride facility. How difficult would that be? The car parks were full of snow which made car parking impossible. A simple sign such as car park full may have helped!
One final comment, which is a serious concern, the gondola queues are long and having stood in the queue all of 10 mins, after a hard day skiing, it is not appreciated to be then not allowed an option to wait for the next gondola so I could be seated. Despite my protest that this would separate me from my 9 year old child I was then pushed and physically forced onto it.
Great value, great skiing, lovely town but be warned! Come on Ax Les Thermes, you really need to get this sorted.
January 01, 2015
SteveJ from France
December 2014 - Ax Les Thermes is a great resort with some great value for money accommodation and great skiing for all abilities served adequately by the gondola and chairlifts.
This was our second visit and as we did last year, we drove in to ski, but this time on a daily basis. Unfortunately, so did half the population of France on the both days we tried between Christmas and New Year. Sadly there is almost no parking and the whole town, on both days, was gridlocked, it taking over 2 hours to drive the final 2 miles only to have to leave again without skiing as there was no parking.
The current system is definitely broken and should be serviced by a one way system, adequate parking and a park and ride facility. How difficult would that be?
Great value, great skiing, lovely town, but be warned! Come on Ax Les Thermes, you really need to get this sorted...
February 21, 2013
David Sargent from United Kingdom
This is my second year visiting Ax (Ax-les-Thermes) as one of my sons now lives in Toulouse (90 mins for Ax). What a great little resort. Good accommodation available, good value lift passes and excellent skiing. In 2012 the snow cannons provided adequate snow to have an enjoyable time and this year, 2013, a deluge of snow - I did not see any ice whatsoever. I would strongly recommend for families, beginners and intermediates. The lift pass includes the lift from Ax up to the Bonascre area where the chair lifts operate from. And there is free parking in Ax and the Bonascre area. You can even stay in a camper van. Full marks. I shall be back again with the family. The only downside is at the weekends when the day visitors from Toulouse arrive but during the week it is quiet with no lift queues.
February 11, 2012
Lp from United Kingdom
Our English children really enjoy the Bonascre ski school. Group classes on weekends and during Toulouse school holidays. Our children speak very little French so they wear a different coloured bib. They do get some instruction in English - learning a bit of French and skiing. Private lessons are also very good. Great resort for learning as loads of cannons.
Also getting the bubble back down to Ax gives little ones a break from the snow with tired legs.
January 05, 2010
Neil Crowley from France
I am a 61 year old Englishman who learnt to ski at the Milton Keynes indoor ski centre in January 2007, had my first skiing on greens and a few disasterous blues at Val d'Isere in April that year before my wife and I moved permanently to France in November, 2007.
We live south of Toulouse, just under an hour and a half from Bonascre by road, and the Ax-les-Thermes ski station has my nearest, cheapest, welcoming and most user-friendly pistes. The ski hire shops are good and understand my improving French and do speak English to other Brits.
The restaurants, both those at Bonascre and the two on the mountain provide good, reasonably priced fare, although Le Chalet de la Hulotte, amongst the trees, may not be as acessible for beginners.
Since my move to France, I have skiied at La Mongie in the Western Pyrenees another family-friendly resort; Pas de la Casa in Andorra and at Vallandry in the French Alps. I have now progressed from blue to red pistes with confidence and love the fact that I can have a relatively cheap day's skiing for around 50 euros, including my lunch.
During the week, apart from Wednesdays, when French schools are closed, the pistes are fairly empty. I benefit for my advancing years, as a 'Senior', getting a 4 euros reduction for my lift pass. Other resorts don't offer such reductions until their 'Senior' clients are post-70 or even 75, which could be pretty meaningless!!!
Facilities for beginners at Ax-les-Thermes are reasonable, but the 'green' Boulevard La Griole is a little narrow, as is the 3 Jasses, which requires a lot of baton use at times. All in all, Bonascre is a good skiing experience for mainly intermediate+ skiers and has been enjoyed by some of my English friends who have been on the pistes for over thirty years.
I am looking forward to a day's skiing at Bonascre later this week, when I will be launching my new boots and helmet down the slopes.
November 16, 2009
James from United Kingdom
Ax-les-Thermes is a very good place to be based for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The town of Ax is down at 700m so rarely gets snow and has the charm of a ‘real’ French town. There is a good selection of bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Most of the accommodation in Ax is self catering, but there are also a range of hotels (up to 3 star). Ax is linked to the ski station of Bonascre (1400m) by a high speed cable car that takes about 10 mins. Bonascre is a purpose built resort and is not a good looking place. There are lots of self catering apartments and 1 very good hotel. It is a self contained town with ‘ski food’ restaurants, bars, a disco and small shops.
The downhill skiing area at Ax-les-Thermes is fairly extensive and is divided into 3 well linked domains (watersheds). The skiing is from 1400m up to 2300m with the lower sections being well served by snow cannons. There are enough pistes to keep most people happy, but one of the real joys of the station is the amount of safe ‘between piste’, in and out of the trees there is to be done.
The station is good for beginners as the ‘green slopes’ are up at 1800m and are set apart from the main pistes (so you don’t have to worry about being cut up by others). The only ski school is the ESf and a few of the instructors speak enough English, however there is no ‘group lessons’ for English people, so you need to hire an instructor by the hour.
There are a couple of good mountain restaurants in the middle of the ski areas, so it is not necessary to descend to Bonascre for refreshments.
The resort is favored by people living in Toulouse as it is accessable by train (lots of Toulouseians have apartments). This does mean that it can get busy at the weekends and during the Christmas and February holidays. However, out of the periods you rarely need to queue for an up lift and the slopes are beautifully empty.
The Thermal waters in Ax have been exploited for their medicinal qualities for many years, but in 2009 a luxury Roman Baths (Le Couloubret) was opened with with its jacuzzi, sauna, frigidariam (very chilly pool), steam room and outside relaxation pools, amoungst other things. It is open every evening except for Sundays, and only costs 15E for 2 hours worth of relaxed pleasure. The new spa comes highly recommended - it has a lovely calm ambiance and is the perfect thing for a holiday treat.
Ax (Ax-les-Thermes) is also one of the best places in the Pyrenees to base yourself if you are interested in cross-country skiing. A short drive from Ax are the dedicated cross-country ski domains of Chioula (1400 to 1700m) and Beille (1800 to 2000m), located on high plateaux offering dramatic mountain views at every corner as well as reliable snow cover. The ‘Espace Nordic des Pyrenees’ provides the experienced skier with a suitable alternative to Scandinavia, and the novice, the perfect terrain and climate for taking up this fantastic sport. The stations offer ski hire as well as some excellent café/restaurant facilities.
All the ski stations (Bonascre, Chioula and Beille) offer ‘self guided’ snowshoeing trails which are marked approximately every 20 meters and the trail is prepared with a skidoo making it impossible to get lost.
It is also worth mentioning that Ax (Ax-les-Thermes) is a short drive from 3 other downhill ski stations, opening up a vast ski area. Ascou Pailheres (20mins), Port Puymorens (30 mins) and Pas de la Case – Andorra (45 mins)
February 17, 2008
jackie from United Kingdom
Ax is a great little town with a real French atmosphere. There is easy access to the ski hill on the gondola from town. There are some great budget hotels in town and a pool of hot spring water to soak your feet in after a day on the slopes. If you are expecting an English style party town, then carry on into Andorra, Ax is more for the family who want to ski a little, experience the real France and relax.
February 16, 2008
Philip W from United Kingdom
Just back from 6 days at Bonsacre (Ax-les-Thermes) and was very disappointed. The resort is fine for intermediate and advanced skiers, but beginners are very poorly served. The 2 main green runs down to the base station do not have snow cannons (in fact the whole resort is lacking in cannons) so have not been open for the last 2 years. The remaining greens iced up very quickly and by our 4th day were more difficult to ski on that the reds. There are some long blues, but getting back up from the bottom takes about 10 minutes. Personally, no run is worth over half my time sitting in a chair getting there !!
The restaurants in Bonsacre (Ax-les-Thermes) are good and although there are lots of ski shops, they only rent skis and sell small items, such as hats, gloves and goggles. Jackets and trousers for sale are few and far between.
If you expect to go down to Ax in the evening, then you will need to take your car as the telecabin shuts at 20:00
Note: in 2006/7 only 3 runs were open.
December 13, 2007
Robert from New Zealand
Ax is a great field to visit. My kids and I spent 4 days there and really enjoyed ourselves. However, the service in the restaurants on the field was unfriendly - much better in the town itself. My son found his first powder-well under a tree just off L'Ours. Great fun!