El Pas de la Casa
|El Pas de la Casa|
|• Total||17 km2 (7 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,080 m (6,820 ft)|
|Highest elevation||2,827 m (9,275 ft)|
|• Density||180/km2 (460/sq mi)|
El Pas de la Casa (Catalan pronunciation: [əɫ ˈpaz ðə ɫə ˈkazə], locally: [eɫ ˈpaz ðe la ˈkaza]; French: Le Pas de la Case) is a ski resort (part of the Grandvalira resort), town, and mountain pass in the Encamp parish of Andorra, lying on the border with France.
Its name literally translates as "the pass of the house" and refers to the fact that until the early twentieth century there was only a single shepherd's hut overlooking the pass. The pass marks the watershed of the Pyrenees, being the only point in Andorra where water drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and is the source of the Ariège river. At an elevation of 2,408 metres (7,900 ft) it is one of the highest points on the European road network. The pass is bypassed by the Envalira Tunnel.
The two main sources of wealth are trade, which generates a border tourism, especially people from France through its warehouses without taxes and winter sports, with the ski slopes of Grandvalira.
Every 29 June is held in El Pas the festa major de Sant Pere (Saint Peter's Feast).
The ski resort of Pas de la Casa sits below the pass on the side closest to France, and below the Pic d'Envalira (2,827 metres (9,275 ft)). Its first ski lift was opened in 1957 and it now has 31 lifts, 100 kilometres (62 mi) of pistes and 6.26 square kilometres (2 sq mi) of skiable terrain. The highest skiable point is 2,640 metres (8,661 ft). Its popularity has grown with the burgeoning ski and snowboard industry in the principality: it is the highest resort in Andorra, has the best snow record, and is the easiest to get to from Barcelona or Toulouse airports. Consequently, it attracts a large number of British and Irish winter sports enthusiasts, as well as French and Spanish ones. It is also favoured for its southern latitude and duty-free status, which for many overcome the drawbacks of the long airport transfer times.
The nightlife is particularly youth‑oriented, and a prevalence of red pistes perhaps makes the skiing more suited to intermediates than beginners or the most advanced.
A bus from Toulouse Airport, Toulouse-Matabiau station and Barcelona Airport runs twice per day and can be booked online. Skis and snowboards can be transported on the bus. Toulouse Airport Transfers are also available.
- Govern d'Andorra (1991). Atlas d'Andorra, Regional climatographic maps showing ski slopes of Pas de la Casa in highest snowfall band, and the other ski resorts – Arinsal, Canillo, Pal, Soldeu – in second highest snowfall band, pp.58–59. (Catalan)
- M Clinch, A postcard from the Pyrenees, Daily Mail, 2004-01-28.
- Molla, Guillem. "El català a Andorra: tota una lluita" (PDF). Universitat de Girona.
Media related to El Pas de la Casa at Wikimedia Commons