Escaping a few days to the mountains of the Pyrenees, in the comarca (county) of Vall d’Aran, located at the top left corner of Catalonia. Merely at a four hour drive from Barcelona you encounter one of the remaining totally unspoiled natural habitats in Catalonia.
The comarca (local district) of the Val d’Aran has a total surface area 620 km2, a population of almost 8,000 inhabitants and a total of 9 municipal areas with various population nuclei. This territory is surrounded by mountains that are over 3,000 metres high and is connected to El Pallars by the Port (mountain pass) de la Bonaigua and to Ribagorça by the Vielha tunnel. Its inhabitants speak Aranès, a variety of the Gascon dialect and part of the Llengua d’Oc (Occitan language) as well as Catalan -and Spanish.
In recent decades, traditional activities associated with agriculture, fisheries and forestry have given way to tourism as the main sectors of the region’s economy. This tourism has been based on the beauty of the area’s landscapes, on hiking, skiing and adventure sports, and on the region’s rich monumental patrimony. In all, there are 354 km of forest paths in the Val d’Aran, of which about one hundred have a tarmac surface. This provides numerous opportunities for excursions. There are also numerous climbing routes and a wide choice of hostels and mountain shelters at which to stay. It is also possible to contract mountain guides for summer excursions, whether conducted on foot, on horseback or by bicycle and for winter ski crossings and climbs. The Val d’Aran has one of the most important winter sports resorts in the whole of Europe, Baquèira Beret, which offers around fifty different ski slopes.
How to get there from Barcelona. While it’s possible to reach this place by public transportation, it’s strongly advisable to do it by private car instead so as to be able to visit the region in depth and at your own leisure.
Video: © Val dAran