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Andorra Travel Guide

The country was captured from the Muslims in 803 AD by Charlemagne and in 843 AD, Charlemagnes grandson, Charles II, surrendered the Andorra Valleys to the Count of Urgell, who lived in the Spanish area of La Seu d’Urgell. In 1288, Andorra’s first legitimate papers, the Acts of Joint Overlordship, were made up as a means of settling contradictory demands for seigniorial rights, made by the Count of Foix of France and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell. These documents, which were an agreement to share the dominion by both the count and the bishop are still in force today and are the foundation of the country’s government. By 1993 the Andorran’s voted to become an independent country, with control and rule being placed with the Andorran people and the French and Spanish co-princes being combined heads of state but with much less power.

Today, only around a quarter of the people in Andorra are actual Andorran nationals, with the rest of the population being French, Portuguese and Spanish. The language spoken in Andorra is Catalan, French and Spanish with French being difficult to understand by most and English being a total mystery! There are around forty hamlets and towns, within the mountain valleys, with sometimes only 10-12 people inhabiting certain areas. The highest point in Andorra, Pic de Coma Pedrosa, is situated in the northwest on the Spanish border, and is an amazing 9650ft high, with the lowest point, La Farga de Moles, also on the Spanish border, in the southwest region, at 2750ft high.

There are no airports or railways in the country and the closest visitors will get to Andorra by plane is by landing at the Spanish airports in Girona and Barcelona, or the French airport in Toulouse-Blagnac. By rail, the nearest visitors will get is south of Toulouse, by taking the French railway, L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre, where daily buses will drive tourists the two hour trip to Andorra la Vella. The nearest Spanish railway station is around 25km east of the Andorran border at Puigcerdà, which also has a bus travelling daily to Andorra la Vella by way of Seu d'Urgell. The best way to travel to Andorra though, is by renting a car and with its large, modern, well developed roads, driving is one of the safest ways to reach the country. The main vehicle routes into and out of the country are the CG1 from Spain and the CG2 from France, with the CG2 from France being the most stunning, as visitors will actually drive through the Port d'Envalira, the highest pass in the Pyrenees, at an impressive 7900ft. Another way to get around once here, is by bicycle, a great way for visitors to do a bit of sightseeing and anyone wanting to see the sights in style can use the country’s lavish helicopter service!

The country attracts many tourists due to its excellent and inexpensive snowboarding and skiing opportunities, with visitors having access to the slopes from December through March, even though the mountain peaks are often snow-capped until July. The other attractions include hiking around the vast countryside within the area of Ordino, which provides some very good walking trails and visitors wanting to do something more leisurely, will find plenty of trendy shopping areas to mooch around. There’s plenty of duty-free products to be had, something which started during the Spanish Civil war when French items had to be smuggled to Spain and vice versa during World War II. There will be goods 30% lower than those in France and Spain including alcohol and electronic products…so while there spend, spend, spend!

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