Mention European skiing, and most Americans envision the Alps. But the snowcapped Pyrenees is where Europe’s chic elite—including the Spanish royal family—hit the slopes, then stay up late (really late) for nightlife in Baqueira-Beret, just beyond Barcelona and the Costa Brava.
WHERE TO DRINK
Whether you call them tapas (the Spanish word) or pintxos (Basque), they’re delicious. Head to the nearby medieval town of Vielha for the Tuesday night PintxoPote fests. Basteret Bar-Restaurant features a help-yourself counter heaped with cheeses, sausages, boquerones (sardines), gambas (prawns) and more. For wine pairing, think bubbles: Baqueira-Beret lies in Catalonia, the home of Cava, Spain’s famous sparkling wine.
On the slopes, unclick your boot bindings and uncork Champagne at the Moët Winter Lounge. At 6,070 feet, the lodge has a huge deck for sunning, enjoying the views or ogling the supermodel in the neighboring lounge chair. The wine list ranges from nonvintage brut by the glass to bottles of Dom Pérignon.
Good vibes and top brewskis await at Birreria Eth Refugi, near the base of the gondola. Owners Òscar Pujol and David Serrano serve craft beers from 70 countries, and they also produce their own brews in collaboration with Birra Baladin in Italy.
WHERE TO DINE
At all the restaurants, the wine lists focus on Catalonia’s 10 denominated regions. Leading grape varieties include Garnacha and Carignan for the reds, and Garnacha Blanca and Xarel-lo among white grapes.
After jellifying your legs on plunging runs like Escornacrabes (“where goats fall”), lunch at Cinco Jotas Grill (pictured), perched slopeside at 5,900 feet. Master carvers slice jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham), made from a breed of black pigs that fatten up on acorns. Follow that with juicy steaks, lamb chops or veal from the open grill.
The ski resort lies in the Aran Valley, which has its own culture, language and cuisine. Eth Restilhè features traditional dishes like olha aranesa, a hearty soup brimming with meats, sausages, chicken, rice, noodles and vegetables. Main courses highlight local trout and prime steaks. Save room for crema catalana (like crème brûlée).
With its gleaming woods and glowing lamps, Ticolet has defined fine dining in Baqueira since 1976. Beautifully presented dishes showcase valley ingredients from sturgeon to baby pine cones and elderberries. Reflecting Catalonia’s diverse geography, recipes often mingle may y montagna—surf and turf—like its match-up of lamb with prawns.